Grants promote employment, housing, direct support choices for people with disabilities


April 16, 2021

Innovations that help serve people with disabilities in Minnesota have received nearly $1 million in state grant funding. The Minnesota Department of Human Services recently awarded $991,171 to 10 service providers, supporting people with disabilities to live and engage with others in their communities and access improved employment opportunities.

“Providers that received innovation grants are doing critically important work every day,” said Assistant Commissioner for Community Supports Gertrude Matemba-Mutasa. “These grants empower them to go above and beyond, to find better ways to support Minnesotans with disabilities.”

The grantees had to adapt their approaches for the COVID-19 pandemic. for in-person services, but the delivery method needed to be modified in response to pandemic rules.

DHS distributes innovation grants in three groupings. This is the large grant program, which awards contracts up to $500,000. There is also a small grant program, which awards contracts between $5,000 and $50,000 per year to people and organizations working with Minnesotans with disabilities. Finally, there is a microgrant program, administered by The Arc Minnesota, which offers funding directly to people with disabilities to help them achieve their personal goals in employment, housing and community integration.

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Summary of innovation grantees:

Advocating Change Together (ACT): St. Paul, $100,000 “Living the Way WE Want — Housing Choice” is a new 12-session course that uses hands-on, experiential learning in interactive workshops to build individuals’ capacity to explore, express and take action on their personal choices about where to live, with whom and in what type of housing.

ARRM – Advancing Statewide Technology Resources & Trainings: South St. Paul, $100,000 ARRM will support people with disabilities through online educational resources and training, which will be available statewide.

Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services (CMJTS): Monticello, $100,000 To promote better health and well-being of people with disabilities in Central Minnesota, CMJTS will raise public awareness about the importance of direct care positions. They hope to increase individuals entering and staying in direct care positions and career pathways.

Inclusive Networking (IN): Bloomington, $100,000 IN will train and support Fortune 500 companies’ staff to implement a customized employment and support program, customizing jobs for people with disabilities in five departments at each company. This project partners with employment agencies that provide services to job seekers with disabilities.

Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community: St. Paul, $100,000 With Rise, Inc., the Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community will work with Black, Indigenous, people of color refugees and immigrants who are deaf and hard of hearing to provide internships and apprenticeships in treatment clinics, home care agencies, assisted living centers, nursing homes and day training and habilitation centers.

Regents of the University of Minnesota: Minneapolis, $100,000 This project will examine the validity of a program that supports employment for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families. It integrates existing programs into a virtual program that allows families from across the state to access personalized support that otherwise may not be available in their geographic area.

Shakir Consulting Services: St. Paul, $100,000 Shakir Consulting Services is a housing stabilization services provider. Its culturally responsive housing project will address racial disparities and aims to achieve racial equity for Minnesotans with disabilities in underserved and marginalized communities, particularly historically Black, Indigenous, immigrant and refugee communities.

South Central College (SCC): North Mankato, $98,210 Uniquely Abled Academy (UAA) is a pilot program at community colleges in California that focuses on bringing young adults with high-functioning autism into computer-controlled machining workplaces. Using a modified UAA curriculum, SCC will build a network of stakeholders to support individuals during a 13-week summer program to see them through to their hiring and employment by a local manufacturer.

University of Minnesota Institute on Community Integration: Minneapolis, $100,000 This project develops a replicable model to transform the state’s 4H clubs to be inclusive of youth of color with intellectual and developmental disabilities by expanding the skills of the 4H workforce. Clubs selected to participate are in urban and rural areas to engage youth from underserved and immigrant communities.

Well Being Development (WBD): Ely, $92,961 WBD will develop peer employment readiness programming for people with disabilities. Programming will take place in WBD’s Northern Lights Clubhouse, where adults with mental health and other challenges can reach personal goals through meaningful activity.


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