Community Employment Grants


Community Employment Grants

Kessler Foundation awards Community Employment Grants annually to support employment solutions that increase employment and career outcomes for New Jersey citizens with disabilities.

Economic Disparity in New Jersey All New Jersey citizens share the same goals, whether it’s a dream job, home ownership, going to college or starting a business.

However, when compared to New Jersey residents without disabilities those with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed, work fewer hours, earn less and live in poverty (American Community Survey, 2014). More specifically, the employment gap between people with and without disabilities is 37.3 percent and only 21.2 percent of those with disabilities work full time. There is also a yearly earnings gap between people with and without disabilities of $13,772 and a 12.3 percent greater incidence of poverty with disabilities.

Rates of unemployment and under-employment are unacceptably high among people with disabilities in New Jersey. By working full or part-time, often with training and support, many people can find meaningful employment and reap the benefits of greater independence, financial security and self-esteem. Having a job enhances social interactions and acceptance in the community, which contribute to a better quality of life.

Through employment, individuals with disabilities have a sustainable pathway to a better economic future.

What We Fund The purpose of Community Employment Grants are to increase  employment opportunities and career advancement for individuals with disabilities. Areas include transition-to-work for youth and adults, employment-related transportation issues, vocational training, workplace preparation, and strategies to support recruitment, hiring, placement, and retention. Other related projects or programs may be considered at the discretion of our Trustees. It is important to have a plan for sustaining a funded project beyond the grant period, if the proposed project will be ongoing.  Additionally, Kessler is interested in knowing how the grant will be judged effective at the end of the grant period.  Grant listing by year

Our Population Interests Any organization with a focus on employment and disability may apply for funding. We strongly believe that through investing and promoting employment models that are inclusive, all individuals with disabilities gain economic stability and security.

Geographic Focus For this program, our primary target service area is New Jersey.

Who Can Apply Any organization that serves New Jersey residents and is recognized as a tax-exempt entity according to the Internal Revenue Code may apply for funding. This includes non-profit agencies, public or private schools, and public institutions, such as universities and governmental entities. We will accept applications from non-NJ based groups as long as the proposed grant project is based in NJ and serves NJ residents. Kessler Foundation will not fund projects that discriminate in hiring staff or providing services on basis of race, gender, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or national origin. Organizations employing a large number of staff members self-identifying as having a disability will be scored higher. Apply Now!

Our Process Application to Community Employment Grants program begins with an online application submission. Grant applications are screened and reviewed by Kessler Foundation staff and Grants Committee. All grants recommended are screened and reviewed by Kessler Foundation staff and grants committee. All grants recommended for funding are subsequently approved by our Board of Trustees and are awarded in September 2019 for the grant period October 1, 2019 - September 30, 2020. Final grant selection is at the discretion of Kessler Foundation. The application process, from submission deadline to final approval, takes approximately seven months.

Amount Community Employment grants are awarded for one year. Funding ranges from $25,000 - $50,000. Organizations may apply for indirect cost expenses up to 8% in their project budgets. There is no matching grant requirement.

Grant Awards and Notification 2019 Community Employment Grants will be awarded on September 13, 2019 for the grant period October 1, 2019 - September 30, 2020.  All grants are awarded at the discretion of Kessler Foundation.

Key Dates 

Grant Application Deadline: April 8, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. ET
Grant Approval: September 13, 2019


Community Employment Grants do not support:

        • Grants to individuals
        • Any vehicle purchase, such as cars, vans, trucks or buses
        • Grants to underwrite fundraising events, such as benefits, dinners or theater events, ticket purchases, advertising, etc.
        • Scholarship funds
        • Deficit reduction or loans
        • International organizations or causes

Select 'Apply Now' to establish a user ID and password to view our eligibility quiz. Upon passing the quiz, you are directed to the application instructions requirement page with access to the budget templates.  
Please Note: The full proposal is not accessible, unless the eligibility quiz is passed.  

 For additional questions, please email us at  only after reviewing the online application and reading through our website. Previously awarded grants  - Grant listing by year

 Apply Now!


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