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Kessler Foundation Awards $323,333 to APSE to Improve Employment Outcomes for People With Disabilities

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- (Marketwire) -- 01/30/13 -- Kessler Foundation awarded a $323,333 Signature Employment Grant to APSE -- Association of People Supporting EmploymentFirst -- in Rockville, M.D., to work with OfficeMax to develop a model of successful employment for people with disabilities. This Signature Grant is part of more than $2.17 million in grants distributed by Kessler Foundation to improve employment and job training options for Americans with disabilities.

For this project, entitled, "Maxing Out Diversity," OfficeMax and APSE will help nurture the careers of trainees towards success in their professional careers. Utilizing the spider concept, a specific training center will initially support a distribution center and then it will begin to spider out to area stores. Through this approach, individuals will have the option to choose a career track in a distribution or retail setting.

"Kessler Foundation funds innovative initiatives to help solve the low employment rate for people with disabilities," said Elaine Katz, vice president of Grants and Special Initiatives at Kessler Foundation. "Individuals with disabilities are often an untapped resource in the workforce. When given the opportunity, they have the determination and skills to greatly contribute to an organization. Employee dedication and productivity improves, which increases the bottom line. OfficeMax will serve as another shining example of the benefits of a workplace inclusive of individuals with disabilities."

OfficeMax will train individuals with significant disabilities in the company's core values, safety skills, job skills and social communication skills. Corporate disability experts from APSE will analyze the activities in each of the four training areas to serve as the foundation for instruction, evaluation and creation of support plans. Each trainee will have individualized training time, support, assistive tools and accommodations to ensure success.

APSE and OfficeMax will create a pre-training model that can be distributed across the company and quickly increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In the two-year grant period, the project will involve at least four OfficeMax facilities and support 40 jobseekers with disabilities. The partnership with Kessler Foundation will enable OfficeMax and APSE to expand the project to other markets across the country.

James Emmet will serve as the lead consultant for "Maxing Out Diversity." He was the strategy leader behind the award-winning Walgreens Outreach project that increased recruitment of job seekers with disabilities.

Signature Employment Grants are Kessler Foundation's largest grants. Awarded for a period of two years, Signature Grants range from $250,000 to $500,000. This is the second year that Signature Grants were available to organizations nationwide.

About Kessler Foundation
Kessler Foundation, the largest nonprofit organization in the field of disability research and employment, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition and mobility for people with multiple sclerosis, brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, and other disabling conditions. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for job training and employment for people with disabilities. Since 2005, Kessler Foundation has invested more than $27 million in organizations and programs to increase the participation of people with disabilities, including veterans, in the workforce through strategic funding and philanthropic leadership. For more information, visit Follow Kessler Foundation on Facebook, Twitter (@KesslerFound) and YouTube.

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