WEST ORANGE, N.J., Jan. 28, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kessler Foundation awarded a $339,254 Signature Employment Grant to ServiceSource, Florida Regional Office in Clearwater, FL, to implement the project, "Warrior Bridge Brain Injury Demonstration Project"—an initiative to increase community integration, self-sufficiency and employment outcomes for individuals with brain injury, including veterans. The grant is part of more than $2.1 million in funds distributed by Kessler Foundation to organizations across the U.S. to create or expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The Demonstration Project will focus on three modules: community integration, vocational preparation and direct placement. To implement these services, ServiceSource purchased a property in St. Petersburg, Florida, integrated in a residential community, to start the Acquired Brain Injury Life (ABIL) House—for employment training. During the initial assessment, members will develop individualized goals. With the help of a Certified Brain Injury Specialist, Community Services Coordinator and other staff, ABILHouse will operate on a peer-run clubhouse model where members have control and contribute to the success of the program. Work units may include kitchen, clerical and outdoor maintenance, which enable members to develop their skills through hands-on work experience.

"People with brain injury have much to contribute to the workplace," said Elaine Katz, senior vice president of Grants and Communications at Kessler Foundation. "Sometimes all they need is to develop their skills to achieve their goals. We expect that through ServiceSource's holistic approach, the initiative will increase employability while fostering an environment of healing and personal growth, and lead to long-term career success."

In 2013, ServiceSource received a $50,000 planning grant from Kessler Foundation to collaborate with partners on recruitment and referrals, best practices, strategies and resources; perform a market analysis; and evaluate and refine the program in preparation of full implementation. The funds were used to hire an expert clubhouse operator, identify a sponsorship consultant, address various obstacles to implementation and conduct a focus group to identify the needs and interests of individuals with brain injury.

To implement the initiative, ServiceSource has partnered with the International Brain Injury Clubhouse Association, a collaborative international network of clubhouses, as well as local neuropsychological programs to encourage incorporation of vocational rehabilitation in clinical injury management programs. Throughout the Demonstration Project, ServiceSource will share its best practices with the Florida Department of Education, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, University of South Florida, Department of Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling, Brain Injury Association of Florida, Brain and Spinal Cord Program and Synapse House, a Tampa Bay-area Clubhouse.

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

Lauren Scrivo, 973.768.6583, 

Carolann Murphy, 973.324.8382,