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Signature Employment Grant

Grants to USA and Territories Nonprofits, Schools, IHEs, and
Agencies for Employment Reform for People with Disabilities

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Kessler Foundation

LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

06/15/18 5:00 PM ET


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Grants to USA and territories nonprofits, public and private schools, universities, and government entities to improve the high unemployment rate among people with disabilities. A concept application is due February 18, 2018. Funding is intended for innovative pilot programs, social ventures, and demonstration projects that increase employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

For 2018 Kessler Foundation has a special interest in transportation projects that focus on innovative solutions to help people with disabilities (PWD) seek, obtain, or retain employment. In addition, the Foundation is interested in innovative projects that improve employment opportunities and provide jobs for PWD that have been formerly incarcerated or encountered the criminal justice system. However, all submitted innovative grant concepts on various topic are eligible for funding.

Preference is given for interventions that overcome specific employment barriers related to long-term dependence on public assistance or advance competitive employment in a cost-effective manner.

Innovation lies at the core of all Signature Employment Grants. The Kessler Foundation defines innovation as a new idea or process that will improve systems to increase employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Innovation can often improve systems already in place. Innovation requires careful analysis of the needs of individuals served: identifying the idea, program, service, or workflow necessary to promote employment. It may require deliberate application of information, imagination, and initiation for generating new ideas that can serve as a catalyst for creating better solutions to obtain and maintain employment. These ideas may be original or may use existing solutions or technologies in a new way.

Kessler Foundation is looking for organizations that use bold ideas and innovation for pilots and new employment models with potential for adaptation by public and private institutions to change today's job market for Americans with disabilities. Collaborating, braiding or leveraging grant funding with other public and private monies, especially sources not typically funding disability, e.g., community or economic development funds, is encouraged. Organizations must be able to transform concepts or ideas into action, using new solutions for current problems, in the communities served. All funded projects will be data driven, evidenced based projects, with real-time feedback to refine systems and processes.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 180030

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Estimated Size of Grant:

Yearly funding ranges from $100,000 - $250,000, with maximum project funding at $500,000.

Term of Contract:

Funds are awarded for the grant period of January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2019. Organizations may apply for up to two years of funding.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Any organization recognized as a tax-exempt entity according to the Internal Revenue Code may apply for funding. This includes nonprofit agencies, public or private schools, and public institutions, such as universities and governmental entities (state, local, federal) based in the United States or any of its territories.

Organizations employing a large number of staff members self-identifying as having a disability will be scored higher. A proven track record managing and participating in collaborative grant projects is also desirable.

Any organization with a focus on employment and disability may apply for funding. The Foundation strongly believes that through investing and promoting employment models that are inclusive, all individuals with disabilities gain economic stability and security.

Organizations may apply for funding through a fiscal sponsor. The fiscal sponsor must be a tax-exempt entity according to the Internal Revenue Code and have a formal relationship with the organization working on the project. If a grant is awarded, the fiscal sponsor is responsible for exercising proper expenditure of funds as well as meeting any reporting requirements under the grant term.

Applicant organizations must have operating budgets greater than $3,000,000. This is a requirement to ensure that grantee is not solely dependent on Kessler Foundation funds as a significant portion of operating budget. Indirect costs are funded up to 15 percent.

- Kessler Foundation will not fund projects that discriminate in hiring staff or providing services on basis of race, gender, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or national origin.
- Signature Grants are not intended to fund project expansions or bring proven projects to new communities, unless there is a significant scale, scope, or replicable component.
- Kessler Foundation does not fund any purely research-based projects.
- Kessler Foundation does not fund lobbying activities, grants to individuals, scholarships, and projects not related to improving the lives for individuals with disabilities.
- Kessler Foundation does not provide general operating grants.
- Kessler Foundation does not make grants to individuals.

Pre-Application Information:

Key Dates :
- Grant Concept Deadline: February 18, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET
- Grant Concept Acceptance Notification: April 2, 2018
- Invited Full Proposal Deadline: June 15, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET
- Grant Approval: December 7, 2018

Applicants should sign-up to view eligibility quiz. Upon passing quiz, the applicant will be directed to the application instructions requirement page with access to the budget templates. Please Note: The full proposal is not accessible, unless the eligibility quiz is passed.

Applicants should allow at least 2 weeks for a response to their inquiry.

In an effort to help the Foundation's grantee partners increase their funding base and replicate their project models, Kessler Foundation requires that prospective grantees partially match the value of the grant. A 15 percent match of the total request amount is required, with this additional percentage added to the total project budget. Funds must be newly acquired and available for the grant project. Federal or state funds reimbursable for job placement are not eligible as a match source (see application instructions for details).

Kessler Foundation requires that all request from universities be submitted through the university’s office of sponsored programs or foundation relations office, if required by that applicant's affiliation. Funding requests from schools should be submitted through the school district.


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Online application:

Kessler Foundation
120 Eagle Rock Avenue
East Hanover, NJ 07936-3147

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)