Frequently Asked Questions

Why Project E3?

Vocational Rehabilitation alone has not been able to address the persistent, pervasive, and multi-layered needs of economically disadvantaged communities. Ensuring employment opportunities for people with disabilities is important not just for those individuals but also for employers, government, and society.

The purpose of Project E3 is to provide technical assistance (TA) to State VR agencies and their partners to address barriers to VR participation and competitive integrated employment of historically underserved groups of individuals with disabilities. Examples of barriers to these groups include poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, safety concerns, interpersonal and family issues, language barriers, and lack of transportation and childcare.
Project E3 can provide to VR agencies timely and individualized on-site Intensive technical assistance informed by long-term relationships with local VR agency personnel and community-based partners in economically disadvantaged communities. Project E3 has the capacity to provide technical assistance in a way that eases the burden on already stressed agencies.

Who is Project E3?

Project E3, developed with support and guidance from the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) is a strategic partnership of…

  • One historically Black College and University:
  • Southern University, Baton Rouge
  • Six other institutions of higher education:
    • University of Wisconsin-Madison
    • University of Wisconsin-Stout
    • George Washington University
    • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • University of Kentucky, Lexington
    • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Partner Institutions:
    • Employment Resources, Inc.
    • Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation

What is a “Targeted Community”?

A targeted community is any economically disadvantaged community that qualifies as an Empowerment Zone (a highly distressed urban or rural community).

  • The median household income is under 200% of the Federal poverty level;
  • The unemployment rate is at or above the national average; and
  • As a group, individuals with disabilities have historically sought, have been eligible for, or have received Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services or achieved competitive, integrated employment at 65% or less of the State VR agency’s employment outcome level.

What is a “Targeted Population”?

Targeted populations are high-leverage groups who are underserved or achieved substandard performance with needs in multiple locations across the country:

  • Residents of rural and remote communities;
  • Adjudicated adults and youth;
  • Individuals with disabilities in foster care;
  • Individuals with disabilities receiving Federal Financial assistance;
  • Culturally diverse populations;
  • High school dropouts and functionally illiterate consumers;
  • Persons with multiple disabilities;
  • SSI and SSDI recipients,
  • including subminimum wage employees.

What are Project E3 deliverables?

  • Conduct VR services needs assessment of targeted communities identified by State VR agencies::

Identify current conditions and promising/evidence-based practices to address substandard participation levels and performance outcomes of high-leverage groups with national applicability in economically disadvantaged communities
  • Provide technical assistance in developing intensive TA proposals for 20 identified TCs for review by Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). This will lead to the RSA selection of 12 targeted communities as Project E3 intensive TA service recipients.

The 12 selected TCs will receive long-term, on-site Intensive TA on VR-related issues, having the potential to result in employment and community integration of persons with disabilities from high-leverage groups with national applicability in the targeted communities.
The remaining 8 TCs, and all interested VR agencies, will be eligible to receive targeted and universal TA via the Project E3 website, webinars, and communities of practice (CoPs).
  • Develop VR training to improve and sustain VR capacity and service access, use, and employment outcomes in targeted communities. Training will be developed with VR feedback and designed for short and long term delivery with other TA centers.

These collaborative services, designed to help improve and sustain VR access, use, outcome, and capacity in 12 selected TCs, will be replicated in other geographic areas.
  • Provide Targeted and Universal TA to state VR agencies and rehabilitation professionals and community partners. Information will be developed collaboratively and shared through Communities of Practice (CoPs), the Project E3 website, and partners such as National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials and CSAVR.

These collaborative training and TA in-service strategies (with other RSA technical assistance centers) will increase the number of TC-based economically disadvantaged consumers with disabilities who receive services from state VR agencies and/or stakeholders.
  • Provide sustainable capacity evaluation for each intensive and universal TA strategy (in collaboration with respective state VR agencies) for the duration of the project and beyond.

The promising TA delivery strategies and contents will be identified for use by other state VR agencies with high-leverage groups of national applicability nationwide, during and beyond the project period.

What is Project E3’s desired outcomes for VR agencies

  1. Engage VR agencies in identifying and developing knowledge about targeted communities;
  2. Collaborate to design modules and strategies to provide Intensive, Targeted, and Universal Technical Assistance and coordination activities;
  3. Provide technical assistance to state VR agencies and community partners designed to maximize community services;
  4. Measure and track effectiveness of on-going technical assistance, training, and alliance building activities.

What is Project E3’s desired outcomes for VR consumers in targeted communities?

Project E3 activities will resolve in collaborative, coordinated service strategies among State VR programs and community partners to provide comprehensive services to targeted populations. The desired outcomes for individuals with disabilities in Targeted Communities are:

• Increased participation in State VR programs;
• Improved competitive, integrated employment outcomes;
• Increased availability and access to community support services.

How can Project E3 benefit my VR agency?

The Project E3 overall effort will build VR capacity by improving participation rates and employment outcomes of targeted populations and communities.

  • Increase, identify, and expand services for VR-eligible, economically disadvantaged individuals from targeted populations who could benefit from VR services;
  • Expand and strengthen community partnerships with local social service and community development agencies, correctional facilities, community rehabilitation programs (CRPs), school systems, employers, community leaders, and other relevant stakeholders;
  • Implement comprehensive support services to increase VR participation rates of individuals living in Targeted Communities by addressing systemic barriers such as poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, safety concerns, interpersonal and family issues, language barriers, and lack of transportation and childcare.

How would technical assistance be provided to my VR Agency?

Project E3 offers three levels of technical (TA) assistance to VR Agencies:

Resources and information available on Project E3’s web and social media sites, including access to webinars, video conferences, and communities of practice.

TA services based on common needs of agencies. Relationships are established between the agency and TA center staff. TA could include one-time, labor-intensive events, such as facilitating strategic planning or hosting regional or national conferences. It could also include episodic, less labor-intensive events that extend over a period of time, such as facilitating a series of webinars or conference calls on single or multiple topics that are designed around the needs of the recipients.
Project E3 will provide technical assistance in a way that eases the burden on stressed agencies. TA is often provided on-site and is informed by stable, ongoing relationships between Project E3 staff, the agency, and community partners. Project E3 leads the collaboration to develop intensive TA proposals with agencies, and aids in developing, expanding, and supporting the growth of a Community Advisory Board for each Intensive TA effort.

Intensive TA should result in changes to policy, programs, practices, or operations that support increased state agency capacity and improved participation rates and employment outcomes for populations at one or more system levels. The outcome will improve participation rates and employment outcomes for populations identified by the agency.

In what areas can Project E3 provide technical assistance?

The Project E3 team has the expertise to provide technical assistance in these and other areas:

  1. Using labor market data and occupational information to increase employment;
  2. Consulting with employers on disability-related issues;
  3. Building relationships with employers, educational systems, CRPs and other community partners;
  4. Using individualized wrap-around services meeting educational needs and increasing literacy to support youth-in-transition;
  5. Customizing employment and training services to address the needs of both employers and individuals with disabilities;
  6. Increasing awareness of cultural and socio-economic barriers negatively impacting employment;
  7. Providing information regarding WIOA pre-employment transition services and sub-minimum wage limitations.

What are some of Project E3’s activities?

Develop knowledge about VR agency needs and targeted communities:

  • Technical assistance needs assessment survey of 80 VR agencies;
  • Literature review of emerging, promising, and evidence-based practices;
  • Active involvement of targeted community experts and representatives;
  • Focus groups, structured interview, interactions via webcasts/teleconferences, and related efforts.
Identify targeted community selection with input from state VR agencies:

  • Survey state agencies to identify at least 2 underserved groups located in targeted communities;
  • Select 20 targeted communities and develop intensive TA proposals.
  • Provide universal, targeted, and intensive technical assistance to VR agencies.
Establish an information technology platform:

  • Website (Webinars, teleconferences, video conferences, and other virtual methods of dissemination of information and technical assistance);
  • Two Communities of Practice (One CoP for State VR agencies and all management/staff serving members of targeted communities, and another CoP open to all staff and management serving disadvantaged communities nationwide and serving employment needs of individuals with disabilities).
Facilitate national state VR agency forums:

  • Dedicated (year 2 & 4) to discuss progress and lessons learned from targeted communities.
Present national results meeting to state VR agencies:minimum wage limitations.

  • To review the data collected, best practices developed, and lessons learned from the intensive intervention sites served within the 12 targeted communities.
Create community advisory boards (TC Based):

  • Create and/or expand upon formal and informal partnerships among State VR agencies, local social service and community development agencies, correctional facilities, community rehabilitation programs (CRP’s), school systems, employers and other stakeholders.

What will my VR agency need to contribute in terms of time, staff, and resources in order to participate?

Project E3 will provide most of the intensive TA proposal development and implementation work; the VR agency’s role consists primarily of:

  • identifying underserved communities and populations;
  • providing VR data regarding those communities and populations;
  • describing barriers, challenges, and opportunities;
  • facilitating Project E3 follow-up with VR staff and community partners;
  • making time available for VR staff and community partners to participate in future TA.