The Minnesota Department of Human Services recently awarded $946,878 as part of a new disability services innovations grants program to support people with disabilities in the community.

The small innovations grants program awards between $1,500 and $100,000 to individuals and organizations to work with Minnesotans with disabilities.

Mental Health Minnesota is receiving $80,000 to support peer-to-peer employment groups for people with mental illness statewide. Dakota County has been awarded $100,000 to partner with Lyft on a transportation model for people with disabilities that can be replicated throughout Minnesota. Cook County Public Health and Human Services in northeastern Minnesota is receiving $75,303 to support community employment of people with developmental disabilities.

“We’re excited about expanding opportunities for people to live, work and engage in their communities in a meaningful way,” said Assistant Human Services Commissioner Claire Wilson. “Community partners have offered creative ways to give people with disabilities many more options to live the life they want.”

The Minnesota Legislature appropriated funding for ways to improve outcomes for people with disabilities in employment, where they live and connection with others in their communities.

Other small innovations grants have been awarded to ACT (Advocating Change Together), central Minnesota, ($3,500) for a community garden in Cambridge and a “Remembering Our Past” historical project on the evolution of disability services, All Star Academy ASA, Twin Cities metro area, ($20,960) to educate parents and other adults of diverse cultural groups on autism and other disabilities so they can help their families access services, Bethesda Lutheran Communities, Twin Cities metro area, ($50,000) to provide shared living options and supports for people with disabilities, Bridges MN, Twin Cities metro area, ($100,000) to develop a web service to provide people with disabilities options for housing, potential roommates and supports so they can move out of group homes if they wish, Lifetrack, Twin Cities metro area, ($98,453) for intensive employment support services for people with disabilities with criminal backgrounds and Project for Pride in Living, Twin Cities metro area, ($30,000) for its program to help families with mental and physical disabilities who have been homeless increase their self-reliance and build a foundation from which children can thrive.

The small innovation grants program is one of three innovation grants programs DHS offers, alongside the microgrant program and the large innovation grants program.

In 2017, DHS awarded $1.8 million in the large innovation grants program and awarded a contract to Arc Minnesota to administer a microgrants program that is currently underway. More information on all of the innovation grants programs is available by emailing DSD.Innovation@state.mn.us.

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