U.S. Department of Education Awards Nearly $199 Million to Improve Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Through Partnerships

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U.S. Department of Education Awards Nearly $199 Million to Improve Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Through Partnerships

September 15, 2023

The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) announced today it will fund 20 model demonstration projects focused on improving economic self-sufficiency for children and youth with disabilities by creating systemic approaches to enhance post-school outcomes.

The nearly $199 million in funding for the Pathways to Partnerships innovative model demonstration project supports collaborative partnerships between state vocational rehabilitation agencies, state and local educational agencies, and federally funded centers for independent living to help individuals with disabilities seamlessly transition to life after high school, preparing them for independent living, competitive integrated employment and community integration. Pathways to Partnerships is the largest discretionary grant ever administered by RSA.

“The Department is committed to providing children and youth with disabilities the supports they need to access self-advocacy training, career pathways and independent living. The Pathways to Partnerships will bridge gaps from school to adult life, independent living, and career success,” said Glenna Wright-Gallo, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), which oversees RSA. “This investment will not only require state and local agencies to improve outcomes for individuals with disabilities by finding innovative ways of working together, but it will also look to unlock post school and career success for those individuals.”

Pathways to Partnerships, part of the Disability Innovation Fund program aimed at increasing for youth and other individuals with disabilities, serves as a step to improving economic self-sufficiency and decreasing the unemployment disparity between youth without disabilities and youth with disabilities.

This announcement builds on a key component of the Department’s “Raise the Bar: Lead the World” initiative to support individuals from underserved communities, ensure every student has a pathway to college or a career, and improve transition services for students with disabilities.

The Department awarded recipients of the Pathways to Partnership grants the full funding for a five-year project period – meaning successful applicants receive all project funds at the beginning of year one. Through the five-year project period, award recipients will pilot, refine and implement their proposed projects while also collecting and analyzing project data.

The following agencies received Pathways to Partnerships innovative model demonstration project funding:



Funding Level


Alaska Department of Education and Early Development



Arkansas Department of Education/ Division of Elementary and Secondary Education



Colorado Labor & Employment, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation



Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services/Bureau of Rehabilitation Services



Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency



Idaho State Department of Education/Special Education



Illinois Department of Human Services/  Division of Rehabilitation Services



Kansas Department of Education/Division of Learning Services



Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Early Learning



Louisiana Department of Education



Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation



Maryland State Department of Education/ Rehabilitation Services


New Jersey

New Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education


New Mexico

New Mexico Public Education Department, Office of Inclusive Education



Nevada Department of Education/Office of Inclusive Education



Oklahoma State Department of Education



Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry/Office of Vocational Rehabilitation


South Carolina

South Carolina Department of Education



Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living/Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired



Wyoming Division of Vocational Rehabilitation



Visit rsa.ed.gov to learn more about each model demonstration projects.