Federal officials are funneling millions of dollars toward efforts to better prepare students with disabilities for post-secondary education and competitive employment.

The U.S. Department of Education said it is awarding $39 million to five states for demonstration projects providing work-based learning experiences.

States will work with vocational rehabilitation programs, local school districts and other partners on the projects which will be set in integrated environments, the Education Department said.

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Each program is intended to promote better transition outcomes for students with disabilities, officials indicated. Projects will be assessed based on the degree to which they help individuals obtain paid, competitive employment or enroll in post-secondary education or training.

“Students with disabilities need to have strong transition plans and goals to leave high school ready for college and careers,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “These awards will help states implement evidenced-based, work-based learning models to help break down barriers to employment.”

Funding for the projects will come from the Education Department’s Disability Innovation Fund Program and is headed to state agencies in California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont.

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