Press Release: University of Massachusetts Boston Institute for Community Inclusion Awarded $4.5 Million Center on Scaling Up Progressive Employment

Community Inclusion
3 min readFeb 15, 2024

Quinn Barbour, Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist Manager, Institute for Community Inclusion

· Phone: 617–287–4309

· Email: Quinn.Barbour@umb.edu

· Website: www.communityinclusion.org

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2024

Boston, MA — The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, in collaboration with Mathematica and the Disability Policy Consortium, has been awarded a $4.5 million grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research to build the evidence base for the Progressive Employment model through its new ExploreVR Center on Scaling Up Progressive Employment.

Progressive employment is a flexible and creative employment approach that uses work-based learning strategies to meet the needs of businesses and job seekers with barriers to employment, with the goal of improving competitive integrated employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

The ExploreVR Center on Scaling Up Progressive Employment aims to increase awareness and build capacity for Progressive Employment model implementation in new areas through research, knowledge translation, training, technical assistance, and dissemination. The Center will build on more than 10 years of research and development work with public employment agencies across nine states.

In addition to Mathematica and the Disability Policy Consortium, the ICI will partner with these public employment agencies that have played crucial roles in helping build the evidence base for Progressive Employment. These agencies include the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Blind Services Division, Maine Bureau of Employment Services, Maine Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, Minnesota Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation, New Hampshire Vocational Rehabilitation, New Jersey Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired, Oregon Commission for the Blind, and Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.

Kelly Haines, the Center’s Director shared, “We are so excited for this opportunity to build upon the past decade of research and development work as we look to both scale up and scale out the Progressive Employment model to new systems and communities.”

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About ExploreVR

ExploreVR is the ICI’s national hub for vocational rehabilitation agencies and researchers. It features ICI projects related to vocational rehabilitation research, data, and tools for planning, evaluation, and decision-making, including the Center on Scaling Up Progressive Employment. The ExploreVR Center on Scaling Up Progressive Employment is funded by grant #90DPEM0008, the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), Administration for Community Living (ACL), US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Washington, D.C. 20201.

About the Institute for Community Inclusion

The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) based at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Boston Children’s Hospital. ICI supports the rights of children and adults with disabilities to participate in all aspects of society. As practitioners, researchers, and teachers, we form partnerships with individuals, families, community organizations, and service agencies. Together, we advocate for personal choice, self-determination, and social and economic justice.

About UMass Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city’s history yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s colleges and graduate schools serve 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.

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Community Inclusion

The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in school, work, health care and community activities.