Just in time for the start of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a federal grant has been awarded to ensure people with disabilities across the state are able to participate as members of the workforce.

The grant, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network, dedicates $2.5 million to help up to 400 people who are at risk of leaving the workforce due to illness or disability remain at work or attain a new job.

The Washington Employment Security Department is aligning with the Center of Occupational Health and Education Alliance of Western Washington, Workforce Development Councils in King and Snohomish counties, as well as a number of other state and local partners to provide services.

“With the staggering rate of one in 10 working age Americans having a substantial disability that impacts their opportunities to work, we’re thrilled and honored to continue to support our workforce on their pathways towards self-sufficiency,” said Dot Fallihee, interim CEO of the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County.

Erin Monroe, CEO of Workforce Snohomish, added, “The longer workers stay out of the workforce, the less likely they are to return to work. Our goal is to help people on the pathway to economic prosperity.”

This is a Phase1 grant that allows for development if successful. Washington can compete for one of four grants of up to $19.75 million to expand on the model implemented during this demonstration phase.

The project upholds Gov. Jay Inslee’s goal of increasing employment rates of adults with disabilities in Washington. Toby Olson, executive secretary for the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, will head the project.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy website.