In January 2014, four Collaborative partners (listed below) were awarded a Signature Employment Grant from the Kessler Foundation focused on building the capacity of faith communities to support the employment of individuals with disabilities in their community.

The focus of Putting Faith To Work (PFTW) is on enabling faith communities to address the employment needs of some of their members, by connecting people with disabilities to quality employment opportunities through the natural networks represented by congregational members, and to provide (or make linkages to) other individualized supports. By adapting research-based strategies to congregations, this project will expand the reach of what faith communities do so well: addressing the gifts and needs of their members, maintaining strong connections to local communities, and addressing community social problems.

This project built upon a Kessler Foundation-funded pilot project based in Minnesota.

Project Goals

Each UCEDD worked with congregations reflecting a breadth of faith traditions to support individuals with physical and/or developmental disabilities to secure and maintain employment in the community. The overarching goal of the project was to develop an accessible, step-by-step manual that details key elements of the approach and that could be drawn upon by any of the more than 335,000 congregations nationwide.


Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (Tennessee UCEDD)

Human Development Institute (Kentucky UCEDD)

Texas Center for Disability Studies (Texas UCEDD)

Institute on Community Integration (Minnesota UCEDD)

White Paper

Faith communities have the opportunity and capacity to transform the lives of many people with disabilities, their families, and their communities by helping people find meaningful jobs, assume valued roles, and share their gifts and vocation with others. This white paper explores practical ways that faith communities can take steps in this area.

Click here to view the white paper.

To read about the Putting Faith to Work project in the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities’ newsletter Breaking Ground, CLICK HERE.

To read about the Putting Faith to Work project in VKC Notables, CLICK HERE.

Funding for PFTW was provided by the Kessler Foundation. They put together an informative impact report on the project. To read more, CLICK HERE.

Celebrating With PFTW Congregations

Congregations that participated in the Putting Faith to Work effort in Tennessee attended a celebration dinner, shared and discussed project outcomes, and networked.
Check out the photos!
Putting Faith to Work Dinner