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Kessler Foundation grant to train disabled to work in CUs
WEST ORANGE, N.J. (2/1/13)--A $484,452 grant from the non-profit Kessler Foundation to the National Disability Institute (NDI) will provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities in New York credit unions, with support from the Credit Union Association of New York.

The project will fund the "BEST (Building Economic Strength Together) Employees N.Y." initiative--an enhanced version of the 2009 Kessler Foundation-funded pilot project, "BEST Employees in N.J."

Individuals with disabilities will receive training in providing financial services and be given on-the-job training and internships.

CUANY will screen and match applicants with available positions and provide ongoing training to build sustainability of the program.

"We are looking forward to being part of the BEST Employees N.Y. initiative, which will provide training internships and job placement assistance within the financial services community to individuals with varying disabilities," said William J. Mellin, CUANY president/CEO. 

Other elements of the project include:

  • A comprehensive assessment tool to judge participants' performance;
  • Credit union-ready employee training and certification so employees understand how to work with individuals with disabilities; and
  • Collaboration with vendors, and training and technical assistance for credit unions.
The Signature Employment Grant is part of more than $2.17 million in grants distributed by Kessler Foundation to improve employment and job training options for Americans with disabilities.

In the two-year grant cycle, BEST Employees N.Y. will train and place 72 people with disabilities.

The project will provide opportunities for replication nationwide.

BEST Employees N.Y. is a collaborative effort of NDI, the Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, CUANY, the New York Office of Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation, the State Department of Labor's Disability Employment Initiative and Syracuse University's Burton Blatt Institute.
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