News Release from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2007
Contact: Nick Almanza
512/463-0121

SENATORS ZAFFIRINI, LUCIO ANNOUNCE GRANT TO INCREASE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES

(AUSTIN) -- Senators Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville, today (Friday) announced that the Lower Rio Grande Valley Workforce Development Board (Workforce Solutions) received a $125,000 grant from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. The grant is for the first year of a three-year project to increase employment opportunities for students with developmental disabilities.

Funds will be used to develop partnerships and integrate resources between the workforce development board, local school districts and adult service agencies, including Easter Seals, local One-Stop Career Centers and the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services.

During the first year the project will work with 30 students from high schools in Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties. "This is an important grant that will help us find employment for so many special education graduates," Senator Zaffirini said. "Project RISE will help provide services and supports that students with severe disabilities need to explore their employment options, develop job hunting skills and prepare for positions that match their skills and interests."

Senator Lucio added that the project also will work with local businesses to identify employment opportunities for students. "Workforce Solutions plans to work with major employers in the fastest-growing industry sectors in this area, such as healthcare and banking," Senator Lucio said.

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities is a 27-member board dedicated to improving the lives of the 411,500 Texans with developmental disabilities. The Council uses a variety of activities - such as grant projects, technical assistance, public awareness and leadership training - to enable people with disabilities to live, grow up, attend classes and work in the community. Developmental disabilities are severe, chronic disabilities that occur before the age of 22, such as autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, mental illness, traumatic brain injury and epilepsy.

Additional information on the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities can be found via http://www.txddc.state.tx.us or 1-800-262-0334.

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