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Minnesota awarded $2.5 million to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities

Minnesota was one of six states selected for federal grants totaling $14.9 million to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities.

Minnesota was one of six states selected for federal grants totaling $14.9 million to improve employment opportunities for adults and youth with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded Minnesota $2.5 million under the federal Disability Employment Initiative. The grant will be managed by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, which offers programs and services to help people with disabilities find employment and live independently.

Other states that were awarded funding under the federal initiative were California, Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts and Maryland.

"Minnesota is forecasted to have a shortage of more than 100,000 workers by 2020. That means we can't afford to waste any of our talent," said Lt. Governor Tina Smith in a news release. "This grant will help Minnesotans with disabilities get the training they need for good jobs in growing industries. I want to thank the Minnesota federal delegation and our partners at the U.S. Labor Department for providing this grant. We are committed to making further progress to ensure we build an economy that works for everyone, everywhere in Minnesota."

"Providing people with disabilities the opportunity to use their talents in a meaningful job is critical to the work we do," said DEED Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. "This funding will not only help them find employment but also give them access to the high quality of life that can come with earning a paycheck."

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The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the five other states will use the funding to:

1. Improve employment outcomes and increase the number of individuals with disabilities who earn credentials.

2. Provide more and diversified job-driven training opportunities.

3. Facilitate academic and employment transition among youths.

4. Incorporate flexible approaches to designing and providing training and supportive services, including customized employment strategies to help job seekers with significant disabilities.

5. Build effective community partnerships and collaborations across multiple service delivery systems and the effective blending and braiding of resources.

6. Promote more active engagement with the business sector.

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