Evesham awarded $40,000 from the Kessler Foundation Grant

The grant will help provide employment training for young adults who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities

Evesham Township is once again accelerating the municipality’s evolution into a fully inclusive community by bringing more programs and opportunities to residents of all abilities.

As the latest step toward achieving these long-term goals, Evesham Township has been awarded $40,000 through the Kessler Foundation’s Community Employment Grant Program.

The Kessler Foundation is a global leader in rehabilitation research and employment funding for those who experience disabilities, and this specific grant allows organizations to help youth who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities make the successful transition into adulthood through on-site employment opportunities.

Evesham Township will use the grant funding to launch its Integrated Employment Project, which will provide a wide range of part-time employment experience for up to 17 young adults ages 18 to 21 who experience intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Participants will receive paid compensation through individualized work-based experiences under Evesham Township’s municipal government, including positions related to administrative and clerical work, landscaping, parks and recreation, camp counseling and more.

Through real-life work experience, this project will allow Evesham Township to provide on-site job training and workplace preparation that will promote growth, empowerment, and self-sufficiency for these young adults so they may find and maintain competitive employment.

“As I’ve said many times before, I truly believe Evesham Township has a moral obligation to always look beyond the minimum standards set by law as we work incorporate fully inclusive policies into our decision making,” Mayor Jaclyn Veasy said. “I want to thank the Kessler Foundation for recognizing our township’s commitment to creating an Evesham community that serves all residents, of all abilities.”

To ensure this successful transitions-to-work, the township will partner with local and regional organizations such as Resources to Independent Living Inc. and Cherokee High School’s life skills programs. These partnerships will help provide supportive career-developing services such as vocational assessments, career coaching, employment preparation, and a full range of resources needed for individuals who experience disabilities to live independently and thrive.

Evesham Deputy Mayor Heather Cooper, whose lifelong career has allowed her to work in the human services field on behalf of individuals who experience disabilities, also spoke on the grant and Integrated Employment Project.

“The Kessler Foundation’s Community Employment Grant Program is an incredibly prestigious grant, and it’s an honor and a privilege to serve in a town that so fully embraces inclusivity and recognizes the importance of providing opportunities for all residents,” Cooper said.

To further ensure the success of the integrated program, municipal officials will also be working closely with the township’s Disability and Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee, where Councilwoman Ginamarie Espinoza serves as liaison.

“Many of the volunteers on the committee are directly connected to Evesham’s disability community in both their personal and professional lives, so I know the experience and input of this group will be incredibly valuable as the township works to implement our new integrated program,” Espinoza said.

Also commenting on the grant and integrated program was Lisa Killion-Smith, who serves as Executive Director of the Resources to Independent Living group that will be partnering with the township.

“I absolutely praise the township for their ability to see the need to incorporate policies for those who experience disabilities and provide resources for their community members,” Killion-Smith said. “We will be working with the 17 youth participants to help prepare them for employment within in the township, and we are looking forward to partnering with Cherokee High School once again.”

Learn more about the Kessler Foundation at www.kesslerfoundation.org. Learn more about Resources to Independent Living at www.rilnj.org