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Kessler Foundation Signature Employment Grants

The Kessler Foundation is inviting concept applications from nonprofit organizations for its annual Signature Employment grants program, which supports new pilot initiatives, demonstration projects, and social ventures that lead to the generation of new ideas to solve the high unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities.

Preference is given to interventions that overcome specific employment barriers related to long-term dependence on public assistance, advance competitive employment in a cost-effective manner, or involve a social enterprise or individual entrepreneurship project. Projects must be collaborative, serve a large geographic area, and include multiple funding partners and stakeholders. In addition, initiatives or projects must have the potential for growth, scalability, and/or replication.

For the 2020 grant request for proposals, there is a special interest in projects that address the intersection of race, class, gender, disability and poverty within the framework of helping individuals with disabilities obtain employment or re-enter the job market following injury. Partnerships across sectors, such as public/private collaborations with economic development organizations, banks and municipalities are particularly of interest. However, all submitted innovative grant concepts on various topics are eligible for funding.

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 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.

Interested candidates must submit an online concept application. Upon review, select candidates will be invited to submit full proposals. Grants will be awarded in December 2020 for the grant period January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022. Funding is available nationwide.

Eligibility: Any organization recognized as tax-exempt under the Internal Revenue Code may apply for funding. This includes nonprofit agencies, public or private schools, and public institutions such as universities and government (state, local, federal) based in the United States or any of its territories. The foundation will not fund projects that discriminate in hiring or provide services on the basis of race, gender, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, age, and/or national origin.

Award: Grants of up to $500,000 over two years will be awarded for qualified projects. Signature grants are not intended to fund project expansions or bring proven projects to new communities. Innovation lies at the core of all Signature Employment grants.


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