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Federal Grant Awarded

Employment and Disability Institute supports research for $32.5 million project

Thomas GoldenILR's Employment and Disability Institute is supporting the Governor's Office and the state Office of Mental Health in leading the research and implementation of a $32.5 million federal award to improve education and career outcomes for low-income children with disabilities who receive Supplemental Security Income.

Funding for New York state from the U. S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services was announced today by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The initiative, "Promoting the Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income" was proposed by the Obama Administration to improve services for more than 2,000 teens ages 14 through 16, along with their families.

The grant is designed to help students graduate from high school, complete postsecondary education and job training, obtain employment and reduce reliance on Supplemental Security Income.

ILR Associate Dean Susanne M. Bruyère, director of the Employment and Disability Institute, said, "As a land grant college, our commitment to New York state runs deep and long, and we are pleased to be able to contribute Cornell's significant research and disability-focused expertise in this project."

"New approaches and innovations for supporting the successful post-high school transitions of youth who receive Supplemental Security Income, and, as a result, creating new pathways to economic and community independence will be tested," she said.

The New York State Office of Mental Health will administer the five-year grant. It applied for the grant with the Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, Inc., and with the ILR institute.

Employment and Disability Institute Associate Director Thomas Golden is the lead principal investigator on the ILR team. Arun Karpur of the institute is serving as the co-principal investigator of research. John Allen, special assistant to the Commissioner of the state Office of Mental Health, is also a co-principal investigator, overseeing the initiative's state operations.

Golden said the grant will focus on "a very vulnerable population of youth who experience low education and economic levels, high school dropout and incarceration rates, and who often have no access to school-to-work transition services. This is further compounded by the limited resources and challenges their families often face in supporting their children's successful transition from school to adult living, learning and earning."

Karpur said the research to be conducted will help test a set of service interventions that are anticipated to help moderate the complex barriers and challenges experienced by these youth and their families. "This project will introduce us to the new frontiers of conducting social science research in community-based settings."

Golden said, "Never have we tried to address all of the policy and practice barriers in one comprehensive set of interventions. PROMISE embraces this complexity, and it is hoped that the intervention will begin to move the needle towards effective agency partnerships, locally coordinated services and practices, and increased self-sufficiency for these youth and their families."

A foundation for the PROMISE research, Karpur said, will be the Employment and Disability Institute's Model Transition Program. It collected statewide data on high school-to-adulthood transition outcomes from 16,000 students with disabilities and 60 school-community collaborations.

The project's core management team includes the:

  • New York State Office of Mental Health, serving as the lead for grant management and state agency coordination
  • Research Foundation for Mental Hygiene, providing contract facilitation and grants administration on behalf of state government
  • Employment and Disability Institute, conducting research and statewide project coordination.

PROMISE, the acronym by which the project is known, is an initiative of the federal education department, the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Labor.

The New York coordinating council for PROMISE includes the:

  • Office of Mental Health
  • State Education Department, Office of Career and Continuing Education Services – Vocational Rehabilitation and Office of Special Education
  • Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped
  • Department of Labor, Workforce Development System
  • Department of Health, Office of Medicaid Management
  • Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
  • Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities

Golden said 2,000 students who receive Supplemental Security Income and their families will be recruited to participate in the project. One-thousand will be randomly selected to receive PROMISE services and 1,000 will receive services typically provided by school programs.

Federal grants totaling over $211 million were awarded for the five-year initiative to Arkansas, California, Maryland, New York and Wisconsin in addition to a consortium of states comprised of Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Colorado and Arizona.