More than $200 million is being made available in a broad push to establish innovative approaches to transition young people with disabilities into competitive integrated employment.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration is offering up $236 million in grants as part of the largest investment ever from its Disability Innovation Fund program.

The money is available to state agencies and, for the first time, nonprofits to develop model demonstration projects “designed to develop, implement, refine …, evaluate, and disseminate, for easy adoption, new or substantially improved model strategies or programs to transition youth and adults with disabilities to (competitive integrated employment),” according to a notice posted in the Federal Register this month.

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Projects should fall into a handful of topic areas, officials said. They can focus on increasing access to advanced technology careers, using advanced technology to support youth or adults with disabilities to access competitive integrated employment or helping justice-involved youth with disabilities gain employment. In addition, projects can look at early intervention and workforce reintegration strategies for those with acquired disabilities or efforts to reintegrate disconnected individuals with disabilities into the workforce.

Federal officials said they intend to fund between 23 and 29 projects valued at $8 million to $10 million apiece.

The Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services will hold a meeting for those interested in the program May 1 and grant applications are due by July 8.

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