News Release

Kessler Foundation commits funds for SHRM Foundation’s program encouraging hiring of jobseekers of different abilities

SHRM Foundation’s new certificate program – Employing Abilities @Work – empowers HR Professionals to effectively recruit, hire, and retain employees with disabilities 

Grant and Award Announcement

Kessler Foundation

Employing Abilities @Work

image: Employing Abilities @Work is the newest addition to the professional development programs offered for HR Professionals by SHRM, This certificate program is based on best practices for recruiting and hiring jobseekers with disabilities. view more 

Credit: SHRM Foundation

East Hanover, NJ – December 1, 2021 – Kessler Foundation has awarded a $100,000 grant to the SHRM Foundation, in Alexandria, VA, the 501c (3) philanthropic arm of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), to develop its Employing Abilities @Work certificate program. The grant was the largest single award made by the Foundation’s Center for Grantmaking in 2021.

Since 2005, the Kessler Foundation has awarded more than $50 million to nonprofit programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities striving to work. The grant to SHRM Foundation was Foundation-directed, an award category that prioritizes critical needs identified by the Foundation and its partners.

“We see human resource professionals as critical to the success of jobseekers with disabilities,” said Elaine E. Katz, MS, CCC SLP, Kessler Foundation Senior Vice President of Grants and Communications. “This certificate program will equip decision makers in the hiring process with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively recruit, onboard, and retain employees with disabilities. This will help employers compete successfully for qualified candidates as the economic recovery evolves and job openings multiply.”

SHRM Foundation will partner with Global Disability Inclusion, a preeminent firm that creates disability inclusion solutions and trainings for some of the world's most recognized brands. The certificate will be the premiere educational program for HR professionals actively engaged in recruiting candidates who add to the diversity of their workforces. Employing Abilities @Work will comprise 10 hours of education delivered in an e-learning format. The impact of the new certificate program on HR practices will be evaluated, and participation by the membership will be encouraged and acknowledged by a tailored marketing and communication plan.

“Our goal is to train 2,000 HR professionals in the year following the launch of Employing Abilities @Work, with 95% of participants committing to hiring at least one candidate with disabilities within a year of earning their certificate,” said Wendi Safstrom, President, SHRM Foundation. “We provide continuing education for our global membership of more than 300,000 HR professionals and are well positioned to meet these goals.”

The certificate program is an important addition to SHRM Foundation’s educational offerings as people with disabilities are often overlooked in hiring initiatives. While many large companies have diversity and inclusion programs, only a small minority of those target disability as a minority group for recruitment.

“Employing Abilities @Work emphasizes that diversifying the workforce depends on equitable and inclusive hiring practices that include jobseekers with disabilities,” explained Safstrom. “With this training, HR professionals will recognize the ability of candidates with disabilities to fulfill the pressing need for workers in many sectors of our pandemic-era economy.”

This grant was part of one million dollars awarded by Kessler Foundation this year. For a complete listing of all of our 2021 grants, visit approved_grants_2021_05142021.pdf

For information on available grants for 2022, check our website in mid-December for information on our grants available for 2022. Center for Grantmaking | Kessler Foundation

About SHRM Foundation

Founded in 1966 the SHRM Foundation is the 501c (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 programming and resources, meaningful partnerships, and evidenced-based research are educating and empowering HR professionals to hire diverse talent, build inclusive workplaces, prioritize workplace mental health and wellness, develop skills, equip young people to pursue a career in HR and help employees find purpose at work and beyond. Learn more at

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

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