Governor Wolf Awards $1.35 Million in Innovation and Expansion Project Contracts

January 06, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Wolf announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) recently awarded $1.35 million in contracts to fund 10 Innovation and Expansion Projects across the state. These programs will assist students with disabilities in obtaining competitive, integrated employment.

“These projects will empower students with disabilities to successfully transition to employment after graduation,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “Pennsylvanians with a disability are valued members of society who make important contributions to our state’s workforce. There is dignity in work, and when people with a disability hold jobs and earn competitive wages they can achieve greater independence and inclusion in the community.”

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014 directs OVR to invest 15 percent of federal funds in Pre-Employment Transition Services for students with disabilities to achieve meaningful employment outcomes.

“Providing students with disabilities the opportunities to seek and obtain meaningful employment is one of the most important things that we do here at L&I,” Labor & Industry Secretary Kathy Manderino said. “These students deserve the same opportunity as their peers, to have the best possible start in their lives after secondary school. Our mission is jobs that pay for all, and programs such as the Innovation and Expansion Projects, which work to support some of our most vulnerable population in this mission, need to be fostered and encouraged.”

The awarded contracts will provide work experiences for potentially eligible or eligible OVR student customers with disabilities; offer trainings for parents and family members with students who are transitioning from school to work; and invest in training and certification for professional community rehabilitation providers in Discovery & Customized Employment services. These services will help students with disabilities access the same trainings, opportunities and jobs as their peers.

One contract will focus on providing OVR-eligible or potentially eligible high school students with work-based learning experiences. Slippery Rock University and the New Castle District Office will partner to deliver students with disabilities an in-school, after school, or summer work opportunity at a competitive, integrated employment site in the community, outside of the traditional school setting.

The Innovation and Expansion Project contracts were competitively bid through the request for proposal process. For a full list of grantees, click here.

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