New Jersey

Kessler Foundation $100,000 grant funds launch of HR-focused 'Employing Abilities at Work Certificate'

New SHRM Foundation program offers tools to recruit, hire, and retain individuals with disabilities

EAST HANOVER, N.J. , June 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- To influence systematic change in employment practices for individuals with disabilities, Kessler Foundation provided a $100,000 initial investment grant for the May launch of "Employing Abilities at Work Certificate" by SHRM Foundation, the 501c (3) philanthropic arm of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Developed in partnership with the St. Augustine, FL-based consulting firm Global Disability Inclusion, the free certificate program aims to educate human resource (HR) professionals, people managers, and business leaders about the benefits of providing a more equitable, diverse workplace for individuals with disabilities. The program will prepare human resource professionals to confidently attract, hire, and retain this population successfully in the workplace.

According to CDC data, more than one in four (26 percent) of the U.S. population identifies with a disability. This community provides a large, unrealized pool of candidates consisting of considerable skills and strengths.

"People with disabilities have the talent and ability to fill the many employment opportunities in today's job marketplace," said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC-SLP, Senior Vice President, of Grantmaking and Communications, Kessler Foundation. "The new SHRM Foundation certificate program provides a roadmap for HR professionals to enable authentic disability inclusion, which allows all employees to feel welcome, included, and respected," she says, adding, "more importantly, this certificate is free, enabling SHRM members and others to effect change and growth in companies looking to diversify their workforce." 

Disability diversity in the workforce is good business and offers tangible benefits to the workplace by creating an environment of openness, transparency, and recognition. "Many don't understand that nearly 80 percent of disabilities are invisible," says Wendi Safstrom, President of SHRM Foundation. "By taking this course, you will learn how much business and workplace cultures stand to gain by ensuring disability inclusivity in the workplace." 

The certificate program, consisting of seven modules, takes the participant through the organizational lifecycle of employing people with disabilities. The course establishes baseline knowledge of how accommodation resources can operate and, with each module, shows how HR departments can adapt their hiring practices to fit individual needs.

This practice benefits companies long-term as organizations will see increased tenure, more significant innovation, and customers from a population with a different world perspective. Additionally, participants who take this course with a SHRM certification will earn ten professional development credits (PDC)s to assist in their recertification. The SHRM certification program is open to any individual in HR interested in taking the course.

To learn more about the program, please visit:

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes, including employment, for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand opportunities for employment for people with disabilities. For more information, visit

About SHRM Foundation

Founded in 1966, the SHRM Foundation is the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of the world's largest HR professional society, SHRM. SHRM represents more than 300,000 HR professionals across the globe, impacting 115 million workers and their families. The SHRM Foundation mobilizes the power of HR for positive social change in the workplace. Its robust resources, meaningful partnerships, and evidence-based programming educate and empower HR professionals to hire diverse talent, build inclusive workplaces, prioritize workplace mental health and wellness, develop, and support the next generation of HR professionals, and help employees find purpose at work and beyond. Learn more at

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SOURCE Kessler Foundation