The Kessler Foundation has awarded a two-year, $310,600 Signature Employment Grant to Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) to launch the CSD Works Job Club—an initiative to improve employment outcomes for deaf and hard-of-hearing job seekers in Texas, Kessler announced on its website. The grant is part of $2.3 million awarded by Kessler Foundation to organizations across the US to support initiatives that create and expand job training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. CSD is an Austin, Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to inspiring and cultivating greater opportunity for millions of deaf individuals worldwide. The Kessler Foundation is a nonprofit that funds innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

CSD Works Job Club is a virtual career readiness program that will provide deaf and hard-of-hearing job seekers with the necessary skills to succeed in long-term employment, according to the announcement. Over a six-week period, participants will learn various elements of job seeking and job retention, including job search strategies, professional networking, and self-disclosing a disability to an employer, among others. The program, which will be led by a deaf career specialist and delivered in American Sign Language (ASL), will serve as a resource to deaf and hard-of-hearing job seekers who otherwise are often unable to obtain ASL-fluent career services.

“Kessler Foundation’s Signature Employment Grants are awarded nationally to fund new pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, or social ventures that yield pioneering ideas to solve the high unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities,” said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, senior vice president of grants and communications at Kessler Foundation. “The Works Jobs Club project aims to improve employment outcomes for the deaf and hard of hearing by blending culturally and linguistically appropriate resources with virtual technologies to enhance the effectiveness of these job training tools.”

The program is expected to provide training for a minimum of 200 participants over the next two years. The Job Club will offer a mixed learning experience, combining real-time lectures and discussions via videoconference with self-paced online learning courses.

“We are grateful for Kessler Foundation’s recognition of the value in the CSD Works Job Club pilot program,” said Chris Soukup, chief executive officer of Communication Service for the Deaf. “Given that 70% of deaf people currently are underemployed or unemployed, this increased access to pre-employment skills and training in ASL is a critical step to their success. Although this program is based in Texas, the goal is to convert the program’s success into an organizational training model to be used nationwide. This will advance access to scalable ASL-based training and skill-building for deaf individuals, regardless of where they live.”

By the end of its first two years, Works Job Club plans to become a sustainable, scalable initiative housed in CSD, ensuring that the project will have a dedicated staff to provide an ongoing support system. CSD plans to expand the reach and availability of the Job Club through recruiting partner organizations and agencies as well as leveraging existing partnerships with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Texas School for the Deaf, Educational Resource Center on Deafness.

Apply Now      

Kessler Foundation is accepting applications now for its 2018 grant programs. To learn more and to apply, please visit our website. Signature Employment Grant applications must be submitted by February 18, and Community Employment Grant applications are due by April 9.

Source: Kessler Foundation