North Carolina 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.
North Carolina boasts scenic beauty, a moderate climate, a culture rich in history and the arts, and world-class sports and recreational opportunities. With 300 miles of Atlantic coastline and the highest mountain peaks east of the Rockies, it is the 6th most-visited state in the nation.
North Carolina has the 9th largest economy in the United States. It is the United States’ top producer of sweet potatoes and the 2nd largest producer of Christmas trees.
There has been a clear division in the economic growth of North Carolina's urban and rural areas since 2000. Urban areas show steady job growth, low unemployment, and rising wages, while many rural counties have experienced job loss, rising levels of poverty, and population loss as their manufacturing base has declined.
Predicted employment growth areas include health and medical services, professional services, wholesale/retail trade, and construction-related industries. Construction is projected to be one of the fastest growing industries in the state, and healthcare support occupations and healthcare practitioners are projected to be the two fastest growing occupational groups.
The state-federal vocational rehabilitation system in North Carolina 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:
PARTICIPATION IN SNAP
Statewide average = 14.6%
Statewide average = 17.2%
Statewide average = 4.3%
These populations were characterized as:
Primary Challenges for Targeted Populations
Some of the challenges of this population in North Carolina included:
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.
- Community-Based Participatory Research: Used existing local resources to engage community participation and create partnerships that lead to better collaboration between community agencies. These partnerships informed ongoing decision-making and will promote the long-term sustainability of successful strategies and outcomes beyond the life of the project.
- Poverty Awareness Training: Provided counselors and partners with a better understanding of barriers and resources for serving the targeted populations.
- Financial Empowerment Training and Coaching: Engaged community partners in asset mapping to identify key resources for targeted populations; provide financial capability training using the Your Money, Your Goals financial empowerment toolkit developed by the federal Consumer Financial Protection.
- Work Incentives Benefits Counseling: Participants receiving Social Security benefits received a benefit analysis to help them understand how work impacts their benefits and make informed choices about work.
- Employability Skills Training: Training focused on increasing social skills, understanding both written and unwritten rules in the work environment, and improving communication skills.
- Customized Employment and Discovery Process: Used Customized Employment as a method to reach out to consumers who had not been served in ways that met their individualized employment needs.
Project E3 provided North Carolina’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 North Carolina and across the United States.
North Carolina Overview PowerPoint Presentation
For further information about the North Carolina community activities: