Boston Disability Employment Initiative Gets $250,000 Grant From Kessler

The National Telecommuting Institute (NTI), Inc., in Boston, can now train and place 400 people with severe disabilities in telework positions thanks to the Kessler Foundation. The organization awarded the $250,000 Signature Employment Grant to NTI as part of the more than $2.7 million in grants awarded in 2011 to benefit people with disabilities.

NTI aims to place 400 individuals with mobility impairments as agents for home-based call centers in the next two years. The main employers are Alpine Access, Sutherland Global, TelePerformance and the IRS. Agents help callers select government forms and publications, provide product information, make hotel reservations, resolve billing problems and access technical assistance for cell phone, cable and Internet services.

"We know that some people with disabilities have limited access to reliable transportation,” said Rodger DeRose, president and chief executive officer of Kessler Foundation. “This telework option provides alternatives for many people with disabilities to work independently and support themselves."

Awarded yearly, Kessler Foundation's two-year Signature Employment Grants fund pilot initiatives, demonstration projects or social ventures that lead to the generation of new ideas to solve the high unemployment and underemployment of individuals with disabilities. The next deadline for applications is Feb. 3, 2012. According to the 2010 Kessler Foundation/NOD Survey of Employment of Americans with Disabilities, only 21 percent of people with disabilities are employed.