Putting Faith To Work

  • Tyree, Milton (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


The proposed project represents an innovative and unique approach to addressing a persistent and overwhelming need of individuals in the target group to secure valued employment in their chosen career interests. While communities of faith have been deservedly acknowledged for the spiritual and emotional supports they provide to their members, as well as instrumental supports (e.g., child care, recreational and social activities, and focused financial aid for members in critical need), the capacity of congregations to reach deeply throughout their local communities to connect individuals with significant disabilities to employment opportunities remains untested. Given the potential breadth of connections of a congregation’s members to their local community and the ability of congregations to address other instrumental needs of their members, the potential power to assist members with disabilities is significant. The purpose of this project is to provide innovative, accessible, and customized training, tools, and technical assistance to build the capacity of faith communities to address the employment needs of their members with disabilities. This model will build community capacity to address employment as a need of some of its members, connect them to quality employment opportunities, and then provide other appropriate, individualized supports. By adapting promising support strategies such as natural supports and person-centered career planning to congregations, this proposal seeks to expand the reach of what faith communities do so well: including and addressing the gifts and needs of their members, maintaining strong and deep connections to local communities and employers, and addressing community social problems. As a result, the tools and products developed in this project will be available to faith communities in every state that wants to use and/or customize them to help people they know find and keep jobs. With a small grant and encouragement from the Kessler Foundation, we are currently piloting the project in one of our states. With full funding, we will expand the project to four states where we examine three key variations on the model in order to increase its relevance and impact across diverse states and community contexts. Goal 1: Recruit, train, and support congregations in each of the four states with the goal of assisting 15 individuals per state to find employment. Goal 2: Customize and replicate a practical and flexible model for congregations-- working alone or in concert with local disability organizations and/or service providers--to address the employment needs of people with disabilities. Goal 3: Evaluate results, refine strategies and products, and disseminate resources and results. In preparation for this project, we are launching our pilot project (funded by Kessler) in one state aimed at equipping up to seven congregations to use person-centered employment planning tools to connect members with disabilities to quality employment opportunities and individualized supports.
Effective start/end date1/1/14 → 6/30/16


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