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Disabilities Employment Initiative


DEI Projects focus on:

  • Developing collaborative partnerships across multiple service delivery systems
  • Blending and braiding of funds to leverage resources
  • Providing flexible opportunities to persons with disabilities for training and employment 
  • Creating systemic change.
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In conjunction with the North Central MA Workforce Board, and its fiscal agent Employment Links, the Polus Center began working in 2014 as a partner to help implement the Disabilities Employment Initiative (DEIV), funded by the U.S. Department of Labor through the MA Division of Career Services and Employment Links.


The DEI Career Pathways Model supports job-driven approaches in career pathway systems and programs to equip youth and adults with disabilities (including individuals with significant disabilities) with the skills, competencies, and credentials necessary to help them obtain in-demand jobs, increase earnings, and advance their careers.

In the North Central region, working with local partners, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, community colleges, businesses, training providers, and the Career Center, the goal of the 3-year grant federally funded project is to increase access for people with disabilities to existing career pathways and employment opportunities in manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality and finance.

We approached this project by engaging with business leaders and identifying emerging and in-demand jobs first. Through cross-agency partnerships, we then recruit people with disabilities interested in these career pathways, who then receive training to meet the skill requirements for hard-to-fill positions. The project also includes a comprehensive evaluation of existing Career Center Services and career pathways programs, including development of procedures and training for Career Center staff.  Assisting people with disabilities to attain industry-recognized credentials and work experiences not only helps them attain economic self-sufficiency but also helps to fill critical vacancies in key industry sectors.

The Disability Employment Initiative grant funds training programs for job seekers to obtain the skills, competencies, credentials and/or work experience needed to be successful employees in high demand occupations within key industry sectors in this region with a focus on:



Working together with employers and workforce development professionals our goal is to create skilled, qualified, work ready candidates for placement with local employers.


  • Work Readiness Workshops
  • Skill and Career Interest Assessments
  • Skill Training leading to industry-recognized credentials
  • On the Job Evaluations and paid work experience if available
  • On the Job Training
  • Internships
  • Job Search Support

Eligibility requirements include:

  • Self-disclosed disability of any kind
  • Ability to work at least 20 hours per week, with an interest in lessening dependence on benefit programs such as SSI and SSDI
  • Interest in working in the identified industry sectors
  • Legally allowed to work in U.S.

Are you an employer or Human Service agency?

We would love to partner with you for referrals of participants who might benefit from DEIV opportunities, internship locations & Job openings. Click here for more information on becoming a partner. 

For more information


Disability Resource Coordinator

Cherie Fisher

978-534-1481, x241



Theresa Kane, Ph.D.