Projects of National Significance

Projects of National Significance (PNS) focus on the most pressing issues affecting people with developmental disabilities and their families, creating and enhancing opportunities for these individuals to contribute to, and participate in, all facets of community life. Through PNS, ACL supports the development of national and state policy and awards grants and contracts that enhance the independence, productivity, inclusion, and integration of people with developmental disabilities.

Current PNS priorities include improving state employment policies and employment outcomes of individuals with developmental disabilities, collecting data on family support and service outcomes, and providing technical assistance and training for AIDD network entities. One project is currently collecting and analyzing data on individual and service outcomes and family services and supports.

Short-Term Projects, Long-Term Differences

Projects are typically short term (1-5 years) and address critical issues. PNS funds have supported families, increased community living options, assisted with family leadership development, and increased opportunities for involving self-advocates in systems change initiatives. Learn more about PNS-funded self-advocacy projects.

Supporting Emerging Needs

PNS projects enable more rapid response to emerging issues by targeting unserved or underserved areas, with the intent of eventually implementing programs on a broader, national level. Program activities include helping individuals develop self-advocacy and leadership skills, creating opportunities for economic development in communities, and developing initiatives to improve individuals’ employment outcomes. For example, the Autism NOW project collects and disseminates the most current information and resources on autism through its website to empower individuals and their families.

Ongoing Longitudinal Data Collection

PNS funds support national long-term data collection projects that help policymakers, service providers, and individuals with developmental disabilities and their families make the most informed policy and individual care decisions. These studies allow for an overarching, higher-level evaluation of the conditions of individuals with developmental disabilities in the United States. Learn more.

Current Projects

Bridging the Aging and Disabilities Networks

ACL awarded a Project of National Significance on “Bridging the Aging and Disabilities Networks” to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD) in the estimated amount of $398,384.00 every year for the period of September 1, 2021, to August 31, 2026.

The grantee will develop a Community of Practice designed to build capacity across and within states’ aging and disability networks that will focus on creating culturally competent systems to support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families to improve planning to address their individual needs, goals, and preferences across the lifespan. 

NACDD is partnering on the project with the Institute on Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois Chicago, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University, The Arc, and US Aging. 

Contact Larissa Crosssen with questions about this project.


Last modified on 01/11/2023

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