(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) A local nonprofit specializing in job placement for disabled individuals is drawing on federal funding to expand its services.
Melwood Disability Services, a Maryland-based organization that operates a facility in the Aurora Highlands neighborhood, has received a $307,000 federal grant aimed at expanding enrollment in its 14-week neurodiverse job training program, abilIT, by subsidizing associated costs.
On Friday, Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Rep. Don Beyer (D) visited Melwood’s facility near Pentagon City and presented the nonprofit with a ceremonial oversized check.
Jewelyn Cosgrove, president of Government and Public Relations at Melwood, told ARLnow that 78 individuals participated in the abilIT program from July 2022 to June 2023. She noted, however, that the newly acquired federal grant, in combination with ongoing fundraising efforts, will enable Melwood’s Virginia facility — acquired in 2017 through a merger with Linden Resources — to double its enrollment of people with disabilities in the job training program.
“We will serve an additional 80 people next year with just what we have in normal funding available,” she said. “The [federal] grant allows us to add 30 people, so next year, because of the grant funding…we’ll be hitting, I think, 110 to 115 total people served.”
Melwood, which also provides a range of services from affordable housing to horticulture therapy and family support services, also received a $500,000 federal grant in July to support its neurodiverse job training program in Maryland.
Cosgrove clarified the two grants are separate and the $307,000 will go exclusively toward helping offset the costs, such as curriculum, of operating abilIT.
Within the last year, abilIT has helped dozens of people secure employment through several prominent private and public sector employers, Cosgrove said, such as MITRE and Falls Church-based Enabled Intelligence.
“It’s a program that really blends [professional and personal skills training] together to help job candidates… get an industry recognized certification and then go on to employment,” she added.
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