Researchers win grants on employment of people with disabilities

LAWRENCE — Researchers from three programs affiliated with the University of Kansas Life Span Institute were awarded Empower Kansas grants earlier this month in Parsons by UnitedHealthcare, one of the three managed-care organizations that provide services to Medicaid consumers in Kansas.

Assistive Technology for Kansans, directed by Sara Sack, senior scientist, received  $122,200 to fund specialized technology training for people living with disabilities actively seeking competitive employment.

The Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities, co-directed by Karrie Shogren, associate professor of special education, was awarded $40,000 to demonstrate the effect of new career development models to increase lasting, replicable employment for people living with disabilities.

Research and Training Center on Independent Living staff Martha Hodgesmith, associate director, and Val Renault, communications coordinator, will lead stakeholder feedback sessions for the Employment Systems Change Coalition. The ESCC received $199,500 with the goal of increasing employment of persons with disabilities and addressing systematic barriers to employment.

Empower Kansas is a three-year, $1.5 million initiative to help Kansans with disabilities find jobs. Grantees were chosen in consultation with the Empower Kansans Advisory Committee composed of Kansans living with disabilities, advocacy organizations, and local and regional community and business leaders. In 2013 and 2014, UnitedHealthcare awarded more than $700,000 in grants to 12 Kansas organizations.

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