Directed by Steven Eidelman, Robert Edelsohn Professor of Individual and Family Studies, UD's National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities, a project of the Center for Disabilities Studies and seven national partner organizations, has received a grant of $280,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy. Nancy Weiss, a researcher with the Center for Disabilities Studies, also is co-director of the consortium.
The UD consortium is one of a group of organizations, which work together to address the goal of a fully inclusive workforce, to receive the two-year National Technical Assistance and Research Center grant, which totaled $2.3 million. Sister organizations include the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center for Developmental Disabilities at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Brunswick, N.J., the American Public Human Services Administration in Washington, D.C., and the Community Solutions Group in Arlington, Va.
“The talents of Americans with disabilities are not fully tapped in our economy. This $2.3 million grant will help advance employment opportunities for workers with disabilities and help them build better lives for themselves and their families,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
“The grant was highly competitive, with other major universities applying,” Gamel-McCormick said, “and we are honored and excited to have received national recognition and funding for UD's consortium on leadership in the field of development disabilities.
“What persons with disabilities want are jobs, not shelters and 'make work.' As a group, they make excellent employees who bring skills and enthusiasm to their jobs, are prompt and work hard, and it often only takes a few modifications for employers to accommodate them,” Gamel-McCormick said.
“The number of persons with disabilities with jobs is low--as low as 35 percent for some disability categories--and the goal of the grant is to create innovative policies and practices to encourage businesses for their own well-being to utilize this well-qualified pool of reliable workers,” Gamel-McCormick said.
“Our goal is to play a leadership role in helping develop opportunities in the workplace, and our focus is to show employers and labor organizations how it is in their business interest to hire persons with disabilities,” Eidelman said.
“The grant will enable us to have impact on encouraging employers to structure jobs to match the skills that workers with disabilities offer,”
“The grant also will bring national attention to UD's Center for Disabilities Studies, including the leadership consortium, and its role in supporting and carrying out research in the field of disabilities. In addition, the grant will provide exceptional opportunities for graduate students,” Eidelman said.
Before coming to UD in 2005, Eidelman was director of The Arc of the United States, a national organization of and for people with cognitive and related developmental disabilities, with 900 state and local chapters. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in social work from the University of Maryland, a master's degree in business administration from Loyola College and a post-master's certificate in social services administration from Temple University. He is the president-elect of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and holds a secondary appointment in UD's School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.
For more information on the National Leadership Consortium for Developmental Disabilities, visit [www.nlcdd.org].
Article by Sue Moncure
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson