New Mexico was chosen as a targeted community through the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center: Targeted Communities (VR-TAC-TC) or Project E3. Project E3 partnered with State VR Agencies and local community partners to improve outreach and employment-related services to underserved people with disabilities in this community.
New Mexico is one of the Mountain States. The landscape ranges from deserts, to mesas, to high, snow-capped mountains. New Mexico has large Native American and Hispanic populations.
The discovery of oil in 1928 led to oil and gas production in New Mexico. More recently, several industry clusters are growing and thriving, thanks to competitive incentives, world-renowned laboratories and research facilities, an innovative entrepreneurial scene, and a highly skilled workforce. A few of these include customer service centers, solar technology and renewable energy, and microsystems and nanotechnology.
New Mexico’s disability rate in 2014-16 was 10% in the state and 13.5% among Hispanics. The state’s poverty and unemployment rates are higher than national averages.
The state-federal vocational rehabilitation system in New Mexico faced many challenges as it strove to serve people with significant disabilities and promote competitive integrated employment. Project E3 provided intensive technical assistance to two regions of the state:
Albuquerque is the most populous city in New Mexico.
American Indians (3.8%)
National rate = 14.3%
Poverty among Hispanics and American Indians in Albuquerque
is one of the highest in the
state and county.
National rate = 4.1%
DISABILITY RATE: Albuquerque
State rate = 20.4%
State rate = 24.2%
Within the targeted communities, Project E3 focused on improving vocational rehabilitation service outcomes for these populations:
These populations were characterized as:
Primary Challenges for Targeted Populations
The effects of lack of financial capability for these populations often translated into:
Key Strategies to Address Barriers
Following are some of the key strategies developed and implemented to address the targeted populations’ challenges and barriers to employment.
- Outreach and Engagement Strategies: Used existing networks to engage and build bridges between community programs to enhance understanding of the vocational rehabilitation program.
- Individual Placement and Support: Implemented the supported employment model to give people with mental illness the help needed to work successfully at competitive jobs. Competitive jobs are positions that are available to anyone which pay at least minimum wage.
- Counselor Motivational Interviewing (MI) Training: Provided opportunities for vocational rehabilitation counselors to access training on Motivational Interviewing. Motivational interviewing is an evidence-based counseling method used to help people resolve ambivalence and develop internal motivation to change behavior.
- Benefits Counseling: Provided information on Social Security program rules and how employment impacts benefits. The goal was to help people make informed choices about employment.
- Employer Network: Promoted employer awareness of the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and encouraged them to provide work experience for people with disabilities. Worked with employers to develop more inclusive workplace practices.
Project E3 provided New Mexico’s state Vocational Rehabilitation agencies and their partners with the skills and competencies needed to effectively and efficiently address barriers to competitive integrated employment and community integration encountered by persons with disabilities in these regions.
Our specific goals for this project were to:
We will leverage promising practices, knowledge, and experience gained from this project to expand employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities from underserved and economically disadvantaged populations throughout New Mexico and across the United States.
New Mexico Overview PowerPoint Presentation
For further information about the New Mexico community activities: