North Carolina

Featured, News, Targeted Communities

North Carolina is a location chosen as a targeted community through the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center: Targeted Communities (VR-TAC-TC) or Project E3. Project E3 will partner with State VR Agencies and local community partners to improve outreach and employment-related services to underserved people with disabilities in this community.


map of north carolinaNorth 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 potatos 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.

Targeted Communities

The state-federal vocational rehabilitation system in North Carolina faces many challenges as it strives to serve people with significant disabilities and promote competitive integrated employment. Project E3 will provide intensive technical assistance to two regions of the state:

  • Region 1: West Mountain Region (Allegheny, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties)
  • Region 2: East Counties (Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, and Northampton Counties)
This map shows the Geographic Regions where Project E3 will provide technical assistance.

Key Information:


PARTICIPATION IN SNAP

west mountain region
0%
Region 1

east counties region
0%
Region 2

Statewide average = 14.6%

POVERTY RATE

Boone (Wautaga County)
0%
Region 1

North Wilkesboro (Wilkes County)
0%
Region 1

Statewide average = 17.2%

UNEMPLOYMENT

Boone (Wautaga County)
0%
Region 1

North Wilkesboro (Wilkes County)
0%
Region 1

Statewide average = 4.3%

Targeted Populations

  • Students or youth between the ages of 14-24, and
  • Adults between the ages of 25-64 who:
  • Are residents of economically disadvantaged rural and remote communities
  • Have a diagnosis of mental impairments (cognitive and/or psychosocial, emotional, or other) and those with blindness or low-vision
  • Have applied, are eligible for, and/or are receiving SSI benefits

These populations are characterized as:

  • Residents of rural and remote communities
  • Consumers receiving federal financial assistance (TANF)
  • SSI and SSDI recipients
  • Persons with multiple disabilities

Primary Challenges for Targeted Populations

Some of the challenges of this population in North Carolina include:

  • Lack of information in the community about disability and vocational rehabilitation resources.
  • Minimal opportunities for financial literacy and economic empowerment opportunities through vocational rehabilitation services.
  • Scarce information about employment and work incentives for youth with disabilities.
  • Lack of cross-agency training/coaching in the areas of generational poverty, financial empowerment, and self-advocacy.
  • Limited access to employment, training, and educational opportunities due to rural and remote locations.
  • Lack of transportation options.

Key Strategies to Address Barriers

Following are some of the key strategies being developed and implemented to address the targeted populations’ challenges and barriers to employment.

  • Community-Based Participatory Research: Use existing local resources to engage community participation and create partnerships that lead to better collaboration between community agencies. These partnerships will inform ongoing decision-making and will promote the long-term sustainability of successful strategies and outcomes beyond the life of the project.
  • Poverty Awareness Training: Provide counselors and partners with a better understanding of barriers and resources for serving the targeted populations.
  • Financial Empowerment Training and Coaching: Engage 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 will receive a benefit analysis. This will allow them to understand how work will impact their benefits.  It will also help them make informed choices about work.
  • Employability Skills Training: Training will focus on increasing social skills, understanding both written and unwritten rules in the work environment, and improving communication skills.
  • Customized Employment and Discovery Process:Customized Employment will be used in North Carolina as a method to reach out to the consumers who have not been served in ways that meet individualized employment needs.

Project Outcomes

Project E3 will provide 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.

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.

Our specific goals for this project are to:

  • Strategically reach out to 10% of the eligibile populations.
  • Increase by 10% the number and percentage of low-income individuals in the targeted populations applying for vocational rehabilitation services.
  • Increase by 10% the number and percentage of Individual Plans for Employment developed and implemented by participants each year.
  • Increase by 10% each year the number of participants who achieve their competitive, integrated employment goals. With youth and student participants, the employment outcome may represent a short-term outcome; not necessarily reflect case closure and full gain attainment.
  • Increase the number of students participating in Workforce Innovationan and Opportunity Act (WIOA) pre-employment transition services. We estimate a 10% increase each year.
  • Increase the number of individuals successfully achieving measurable skills gains leading to a credential or employment. The goal metric will be determined in close consultation with North Carolina Vocational Rehabilition/Disability Services for the Blind.
  • Increase the number of individuals who successfully attain a credential. Increase the number of individuals successfully achieving measurable skills gains leading to a credential or employment. The goal metric will be determined in close consultation with North Carolina Vocational Rehabilition/Disability Services for the Blind.
  • Increase the number of participants earning above minimum wage as well as those having access to employer-sponsored benefits such as insurance, paid leave, etc. The goal metric will be determined in close consultation with North Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation/Disability Services for the Blind.

More Information

For further information about the North Carolina community activities: