DEED secures federal grant to provide workforce development services for young Minnesotans with disabilities

Published 3:55 pm Friday, July 5, 2024

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The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development this week announced it has received a federal grant to prepare low-income youth and young adults ages 16-24 who have disabilities to complete post-secondary education and successfully transition into the workforce. Minnesota is one of four states to receive this grant.

DEED’s $12 million Equitable Transitions Models (ETM) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy will support a five-year program of intensive case management services, including career pathways programming that begins with career exploration activities and advances to credentials attainment, skills acquisition, work-based learning, paid work experiences and, ultimately, jobs in the adult labor force.

DEED’s program will include targeted outreach to young people participating in the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work program. Available to people ages 18 and up who receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits, the Ticket to Work program helps ensure participants continue to receive essential benefits and services as they explore opportunities toward financial independence and self-sufficiency.

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“With near-record low unemployment, Minnesota employers are looking for new ways to find workers who can fill positions in high-growth industries,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek. “Preparing young people with disabilities to thrive in the labor force is part of DEED’s mission to empower the growth of Minnesota’s economy, for everyone.”

“For young people with disabilities in Minnesota, education and employment outcomes lag behind their counterparts who do not have disabilities. This is especially true for youth with disabilities from communities of color and Indigenous communities,” said Marc Majors, DEED deputy commissioner of Workforce Development. “Post-secondary credentials are a gateway to economic stability, so innovative strategies are needed to support these young people in attaining equivalent outcomes.”

For implementation, DEED is partnering with PACER Center in the Twin Cities metro area and four Greater Minnesota workforce development organizations — Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Programs, Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council and South Central Workforce Council — as the service providers. These five partners cover 53 Minnesota counties.

The program is projected to serve 237 case-managed youth in Greater Minnesota and 310 parents and families through PACER Center.