The Disability Employment Initiative (DEI) seeks to improve education, training, and employment opportunities and outcomes of youth and adults who are unemployed, underemployed, and/or receiving Social Security disability benefits. DEI projects improve collaboration among employment and training and asset development programs implemented at state and local levels, including the Social Security Administration's Ticket to Work Program, and build effective partnerships that leverage resources to better serve individuals with disabilities.
The DEI focus on cross agency collaboration, Integrated Resource Team, and blending and braiding of resources strategies that support comprehensive integrated and streamlined services represents core principles of the Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act (WIOA) signed into law in July 2014. DEI Round VI and VII grants are further aligned with WIOA by their focus on career pathway systems and programs that focus on adults and youth with disabilities, including individuals with significant disabilities, and expand their educational, workplace learning and advancement opportunities.
DEI is jointly funded and administered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy. Since 2010, the department has awarded grants of more than $123 million through the initiative to 49 projects in 28 states to improve education, training, and employment outcomes of youth and adults with disabilities.