Projects of National Significance: Community Collaborations for Employment Program

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Title
Projects of National Significance: Community Collaborations for Employment Program
Opportunity ID
332427
Center
AoD
Primary CFDA Number
93.631
Funding Opportunity Number
HHS-2021-ACL-AOD-DNCE-0098
Funding Instrument Type
Cooperative Agreement
Expected Number of Awards Synopsis
8
Length of Project Periods
60-month project period with five 12-month budget periods
Project Period Expected Duration in Months
60
Eligibility Category
State governments,County governments,City or township governments,Special district governments,Independent school districts,Public and State controlled institutions of higher education,Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized),Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities,Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments),Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education,Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
Additional Information on Eligibility
Domestic public or private non-profit entities including state and local governments, Indian tribal governments and organizations (American Indian/Alaskan Native/Native American), faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, hospitals, and institutions of higher education.
Foreign entities are not eligible to compete for, or receive, awards made under this announcement. Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.
Estimated Award Date
Funding Opportunity Description

A. Purpose / Statement of Need

The purpose of the Community Collaborations for Employment Program is to increase and enhance collaborations across existing local systems to maximize a seamless experience and outcome of youth with ID/DD as they transition between school and work in the community. Since a transition period for youth with ID/DD is a multifaceted process, ACL recognizes that no one person, institution, or organization acting alone can provide all the supports and services needed.

The Administration for Community Living, Administration on Disabilities (AoD) seeks to fund approximately eight (8) community-based collaboration models in select communities as demonstration projects that will design and test effective transition services and activities to increase the number of youth with ID/DD:

Finding and keeping long-term, career-focused competitive integrated employment (CIE)
Graduating from post-secondary education programs
Living and participating fully in their communities

Many students and youth with disabilities do not have the same opportunities as their peers without disabilities to pursue higher education, training, and careers. Multiple complex systems each play a role at the community level in ensuring that youth with disabilities have the supports, services, and resources they need to successfully transition into their post-secondary life. Yet, despite the various federal programs available, CIE rates for individuals with ID/DD are alarmingly low. In response to this challenge, additional investments are being made to accelerate change to enhance local level community solutions for the targeted population of youth with ID/DD.

This project supports the four AoD priorities of:

Promoting health equity,
Achieving economic security and mobility,
Protecting rights and preventing abuse, and
Empowering individuals, communities, families.

This project joins other existing AoD initiatives, including:

The Partnerships in Employment (PIE) Systems Change grants (ending in August 2021)
The AoD Disability Employment Technical Assistance Center
The Alternatives to Guardianship Youth Resource Center
The Center on Youth Health Care Transitions (new in 2021)
UCEDD Community-Based Partnership Training grants focused on transition to employment
The ACL employment longitudinal study

The projects will also support the Administration’s priorities to address the COVID-19 pandemic, racial inequities, and the American economy. ACL recognizes that strengthening the transition process for youth with ID/DD is a critical component to addressing multiple inequities and creating better opportunities for individuals with ID/DD living well within the community.

This project is funded under the Projects of National Significance (PNS) within the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, which defines the purpose of PNS as a program to "create opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities to directly and fully contribute to, and participate in, all facets of community life; and support the development of national and State policies that reinforce and promote, with the support of families, guardians, advocates, and communities, of individuals with developmental disabilities, the self-determination, independence, productivity, and integration and inclusion in all facets of community life of such individuals."[1]

B. Project History / Background

Most students and youth with ID/DD do not have equitable opportunities as their peers without disabilities to pursue higher education, training, and careers. This has been an on-going, persistent issue. For example, a 2013 report found that only 44 percent of adults with intellectual disabilities aged 21-64 were in the labor force, compared to 83 percent of working-age adults without disabilities.[2] More recent data shows that 19 percent of people with ID/DD worked in integrated employment in 2018. Of that percentage, 14 percent have an individual job with 27.6 hours (mean) worked every two weeks and $8.94 hourly wage (mean). The remaining balance of five percent of people with ID/DD work in a small group job with 24.5 hours (mean) worked every two weeks and $8.18 hourly wage (mean).[3]

The Community Collaborations for Employment (CCE) project seeks to reverse these trend lines to help build community capacity to improve access to integrated employment community resources to support individuals with ID/DD and their families. Effective transition services and activities are a vital component to improving CIE outcomes for people with ID/DD. These outcomes are even greater when the transition process starts early. With as many as forty states adopting legislation and/or an official state policy supporting employment first for people with disabilities, there are many opportunities to support provider transformation and other strategies that will strengthen transition to CIE[4].

The CCE project will build upon previous investments to improve CIE outcomes for people with ID/DD. Since 2011, ACL has invested in Partnerships in Employment (PIE) project grants in a total of 14 states. PIE project states created a consortium of state agencies and other stakeholders to support systems change surrounding the transition from school to employment or post-secondary education for individuals with ID/DD. As it relates to the scope of this funding opportunity, below are some key lessons learned from the PIE grants:

Increasing capacity in the community to encourage, engage in, and facilitate transition activities. A major component to improving CIE outcomes is effective transition services and activities. Transition-related programming in schools may take the form of webinars, trainings, curricula, or other tools, including, for example, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Furthermore, a lack of standardization across transition programming impacts employment outcomes; without successful engagement of students, families, teachers, employers, and providers, transitions are more difficult to execute. As a whole, there may be an opportunity to increase access, coordination, and involvement in transition-specific initiatives in the following areas:

Engage employers: Engaging employers directly with students and youth with ID/DD in transition (e.g., integrating and identifying employment opportunities by engaging employers through school systems and other community organizations to implement employer-specific trainings, career fairs, career skill-building courses) can yield positive results.
Create and implement IEP development trainings: By serving as partners with the community, schools can create strong IEPs by providing trainings for teachers, employment providers, and others that align academic goals with transition goals.
Develop and implement a common framework: Developing a common framework in school districts to facilitate a team approach can help ensure schools and other community partners are more aware of the available pathways and options for students with disabilities. This could include trainings and other events that can bring together employment providers, families, and teachers, and students and youth with ID/DD.

The CCE project is designed to build on the work of the PIE projects as well as many other relevant initiatives to strengthen transition services at the local community level.

C. Project Goals (Outcomes and Performance Measures)

The CCE project will fund broad stakeholder collaborations in select communities that will work to increase the capacity of those communities to provide transition services and facilitate improved transition activities between schools and the communities for individuals with ID/DD.

Because CCE is a demonstration program, ACL seeks to award grants to organizations representing a variety of different types of communities. In your application, you should describe the unique characteristics of your community, including the scope, size, character, and what makes it a good candidate to test this demonstration project.

The community collaboration will work together to:

Conduct an environmental scan of all types of services available to support the transition process,
Reduce the complexity of existing transition services,
Increase the smooth exchange among the various supportive programs,
Eliminate unnecessary duplication,
Create tools to increase consistency across service agencies, and
Ultimately expand and strengthen the services available to students and youth with ID/DD and their families.

Grantees for this funding opportunity will work toward the following outcomes:

Initial outcomes

Program participants report less complexity and an improved experience overall with the available transition services
Participants experience an increasingly smooth exchange among the various programs
There is a reduction in unnecessary duplication among transition services and other barriers to students’ success
Increasing number of people with ID/DD and their families are in new or increased leadership roles*

Intermediate outcomes

Expansion and strengthening of local services available to youth with ID/DD and their families
Increased opportunities for competitive integrated employment (CIE), successful postsecondary education without remediation, and independent living
Greater percent of people with ID/DD and their families have increased knowledge of supports needed to help them achieve the life they want*
More youth with ID/DD transitioning smoothly to post-secondary education

Long-term outcomes

More youth with ID/DD finding and keeping long-term, career-focused CIE
More youth with ID/DD graduating from post-secondary education programs
More youth with ID/DD living and participating fully in their communities
More policies are changed to improve the experience of people with ID/DD and their families*

* Tracks with the approved performance measures for the Projects of National Significance program

D. Activities

As an applicant, you should respond to this funding announcement by submitting a proposal that describes the approach you will take, if funded, to build and strengthen the capacity in your community to provide consistent and seamless services for youth with ID/DD and their families that optimize their opportunities for CIE, successful postsecondary education without remediation, and independent living that are consistent with their unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice. You should explain in your application how you plan to implement the required activities outlined in this subsection along with any other activities you deem necessary to achieve the outcomes listed in Subsection C above. In addition to the narrative description of your approach, you should include in your application a logic model that provides an overall conceptual framework for achieving the project’s goals and outcomes.

You should also describe in your application how you will use consensus-based, participatory processes in carrying out the activities of the project and other methods to ensure active and meaningful engagement of a broad range of community members, including students with ID/DD, in all aspects of your project. Also, grantees will pay special attention to and will target underserved populations, including people who are racial or ethnic minorities, have limited-English proficiency, and/or those of the greatest economic and social need. You should describe in your applications how you will include such a focus throughout each stage of your project.

This grant project timeline has four key stages:

Establishing and Maintaining a Community Collaboration Pilot
Conducting a Community Landscape Analysis
Developing a Community Collaboration Employment Transition Plan
Implementing the Community Collaboration Employment Transition Plan

ACL expects the grantee to include evaluation components in each of these stages of the project to ensure progress is being made and to understand the project’s overall impact.

1. Establishing and Maintaining a Community Collaboration Pilot
This project will require a broad range of diverse community partners that will be integrally involved in all aspects of the grant – beginning with the design planning and continuing through the implementation phase – to accomplish the goals and outcomes listed above.

You should describe in your application how you will engage a wide variety of partners in your community who are, or could be, important players in the community collaboration. Your application must designate one partner who will submit the application as the lead applicant and who will serve as the fiscal agent and the programmatic lead for the grant (i.e., the grantee). The grantee will be legally responsible for the use of all grant funds, overall fiscal and programmatic oversight of the project, and for ensuring that the project is carried out in accordance with federal requirements.

Your community collaboration must include representation from each of the following:

One or more community DD provider organizations / agencies
One or more Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
The local office of the state VR agency
One or more University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (UCEDDS)[5]
One or more local education agencies (LEAs)
Students with ID/DD

If there is a Protection and Advocacy (P&A) or State DD Council in your local community, they must also be represented in the community collaboration.

You should describe in your application how these required collaboration members participated in the development of the application and, more importantly, how the collaboration members will work together over the course of the project to meet the goals and objectives of this funding announcement. You should also include letters of commitment from each of the above required collaboration members that demonstrate their clear commitment to the project and reference their areas of responsibility.

Because of the complex myriad of issues surrounding transition services, community collaborations that are inclusive of diverse voices from a wide variety of partners are often stronger and more effective. While not required, you should consider including as many of the following organizations/agencies (as well as any others) that you determine could bring value to your project.

Families of students with ID/DD
Local businesses
Self-advocacy organizations
Organizations representing multiply marginalized groups
Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSIDs)
Institutions of higher education
Local organizations providing home and community-based services
Government agencies (e.g., Medicaid offices)

2. Conducting a Community Landscape Analysis
The grantee will work with the community collaboration group to conduct a community landscape analysis. This assessment will detail and analyze the resources, strengths, needs, and gaps that exist with respect to the community’s capacity to provide consistent and seamless services for youth with ID/DD and their families that optimize their opportunities for CIE, successful postsecondary education without remediation, and independent living. You should describe in your application how you will conduct this community landscape analysis, which at a minimum should include:

The assessment of the systemic interactions and exchanges between different systems that may result in duplication or contradiction, including the movement between and receipt of services from multiple providers;
Consideration of state or local policy on the administration of the school to work transition process;
Specific needs and gaps for youth with ID/DD from multiply marginalized populations; and
An assessment of what and where resources are in the community (e.g., employment networks, service providers, job coaches, data infrastructure that tracks student outcomes).

3. Developing a Community Collaboration Employment Transition Plan
Each project will develop a culturally competent community collaboration employment transition plan that will guide the project for the remainder of the grant period. You should describe in your application how you will develop your plan within the framework of your community collaboration. Your application should demonstrate how you will ensure that your plan is culturally competent, takes into account the perspective of multiply marginalized populations, created with input from a broad range of stakeholders and consumers (i.e., youth with ID/DD; multiply marginalized populations), and informed by the results of the community landscape analysis. The community collaboration employment transition plan will contain the elements below. Since you have not yet created your plan, your application should describe your preliminary ideas for how the collaboration will:

Manage the community collaboration – Details on how the community collaboration will be managed to ensure the goals and objectives for the project are achieved, including how the collaboration will use consensus-based, participatory processes in carrying out the activities of the project. For example:

How you will conduct regular meetings, collaborative trainings, joint site visits, and other activities that will strengthen the community collaboration, and
How you will continually work to strengthen and expand the community collaboration over the 5-year project period.

Address the needs of youth with ID/DD, including youth from multiply marginalized populations – Innovative strategies to address the needs of youth (including youth with ID/DD from multiply marginalized populations) prior to, during, and after transition that make use of available community resources, are trackable, and have key indicators to measure successful outcomes. Culturally competent strategies for actively mitigating barriers to youth’s success, continuously improving their experience, and tracking their progress as they transition from school to work or postsecondary education.
Build relationships with employers – Strategies for how the community collaboration will develop strong relationships through employer engagement with local businesses that will support and/or lead to competitive integrated employment, including supported and customized employment.
Gather feedback – Plans for gathering feedback (e.g., surveys) at least annually from individuals with ID/DD (including those who have completed their transitions and those from multiply marginalized populations), their families, and others in their support networks on their experiences, needs, and outcomes.
Develop a common framework – A sound approach to the development of a common framework among all members of the collaboration, including school districts, to facilitate a team approach and raise awareness of the available pathways and options for youth with ID/DD.

4. Implementing the Community Collaboration Employment Transition Plan
After the community collaboration has developed its plan, the grantee will ensure that the proposed plan is implemented effectively and in a culturally competent manner over the period of the grant. You should describe in your application how you, as the grantee, will ensure that:

The community collaboration – both as a whole and as individual members – remains consistently engaged in the plan’s implementation;
There is continued, active, and meaningful engagement from a broad range of community members (including those representing traditionally unserved, underserved, and multiply marginalized populations) in all aspects of the project, including the use of consensus-based, participatory processes in carrying out the activities of the project;
The plan is regularly updated and remains relevant and impactful over the entire period of the grant; and
Promising practices and other learnings are disseminated appropriately and broadly throughout the community and beyond.

5. Evaluating the Project
You should describe in your application how you will use process evaluation techniques to analyze delivery of project activities to determine, among other things: (a) the extent to which the project is implemented as planned, (b) how the project activities are being received by the collaborative partners and other stakeholders (particularly those from multiply marginalized populations), (c) the barriers to implementation, and (d) areas for project improvements / refinements. You should describe how you could use periodic rapid cycle evaluation to allow for impactful adjustments as the project unfolds.

You should also describe in your application how you will use summative evaluation techniques to determine project success in meeting the intended outcomes of the project in terms of increasing:

The satisfaction of youth with ID/DD with the transition experience overall and with the available services;
The number, size, and strength of local services available to youth with ID/DD and their families;
The number of youth with ID/DD who find and keep long-term, career-focused CIE;
The number of youth with ID/DD completing or graduating from post-secondary education programs; and
The number of youth with ID/DD living and participating fully in their communities;

E. Definitions

Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE): Competitive integrated employment means work (i) In the competitive labor market that is performed on a full-time or part-time basis in an integrated setting; and (ii) For which an individual is compensated at or above the minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage and level of benefits paid by the employer for the same or similar work performed by individuals who are not disabled. Competitive employment may include self-employment.

Culturally Competent: The term ‘‘culturally competent’’, used with respect to services, supports, or other assistance, means services, supports, or other assistance that is conducted or provided in a manner that is responsive to the beliefs, interpersonal styles, attitudes, language, and behaviors of individuals who are receiving the services, supports, or other assistance, and in a manner that has the greatest likelihood of ensuring their maximum participation in the program involved.[6]

Integrated Setting: Consistent with 34 CFR 361.5(b)(33), with respect to an employment outcome, the term "integrated setting" means a setting typically found in the community in which individuals with disabilities interact with non-disabled individuals, other than non-disabled individuals who are providing services to such individuals, to the same extent that non-disabled individuals in comparable positions interact with other persons.

Unserved and Underserved: The term includes populations such as individuals from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds, disadvantaged individuals, individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals from underserved geographic areas (rural or urban), and specific groups of individuals within the population of individuals with developmental disabilities, including individuals who require assistive technology in order to participate in and contribute to community life.[7]

[1] An Act to Improve Service Systems for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities, and for Other Purposes. (PL 106-442) U.S. G.P.O., 2000.
[2] Siperstein, Parker & Drascher, 2013, National snapshot of adults with intellectual disabilities in the labor force, Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 39, pp. 160-161: “The labor force is comprised of those who are currently employed or unemployed (out of work but looking for employment); the labor force participation rate is the proportion of working-age people who are currently in the labor force. The labor force participation rate of adults with ID aged 21–64 in the present sample was 44% (see Table 2). In comparison, in 2011 it was estimated that the majority of working-age adults without disabilities (83%) were in the labor force.”
[3] Infographic titled Employment Snapshot, Employment of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (2018); ACL Grantee Product of StateData, a project of ThinkWork! at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston
[4] Taken from https://apse.org/employment-first/
[5] You can find a list of the 67 UCEDDS at https://acl.gov/programs/aging-and-disability-networks/national-network…
[6] United States, Congress, The Developmental Disabilities and Bill of Rights Act of 2000. Sec. 102
[7] Ibid.

Award Ceiling
225000
Award Floor
175000
Due Date for Applications
Date for Informational Conference Call

Last modified on 07/06/2021


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