National Disability Institute was awarded $497,897 by the Kessler Foundation to pilot and test a two-year employment and career advancement model in the financial service sector in New Jersey.
“This year has been a challenging one for people with disabilities trying to seek employment,” said Elaine Katz, Vice President of Grants and Special Initiatives for the Kessler Foundation. “Even though we are approaching the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), only one-third of people with disabilities work,” she noted, “while the vast majority says they would if they had the opportunity.”
In collaboration with Allies, Inc. and the Federation of Cooperative Credit Unions, NDI’s pilot project will expand employment opportunities for New Jersey residents with physical and other significant disabilities in the financial services sector, specifically within mainstream financial institutions. Over the next two years, BEST Employees will prepare 52 individuals with disabilities for sustainable careers in the financial services sector by providing training, internships with credit unions and other financial institutions, and placement assistance for entry-level jobs at financial institutions throughout New Jersey.
Despite the current crises in financial markets, retail financial institutions continue to need new hires to fill entry-level customer service positions that typically experience high turnover.
There is much to gain by recruiting people with disabilities for these key front line positions, both from the quality of the employees' performance and from developing the capacity to expand their market share in the disability community.
“Individuals with disabilities and their families are looking for affordable and accessible financial services complimented by strong customer service. This project will respond to these needs and has the potential to establish a sustainable, replicable national model for employment of people with disabilities that are sensitive to the financial service needs of the disability market sector”, stated NDI Executive Director, Michael Morris.
Kessler Foundation awards grants to organizations that work toward improving employment and career advancement, helping fulfill the Foundation’s mission to improve quality of life for people with physical disabilities through discovery, innovation, demonstration, application, and dissemination. Selection of grant recipients is based on extent of public impact and the proven program success.
For more information or, if you are a New Jersey job seeker with a disability and are interested in participating in this pilot program, please contact Elizabeth Jennings with National Disability Institute at email@example.com.