Capitol Correspondence - 11.19.19

Opportunity: DOL Announces Technical Assistance for Competitive Employment

Share this page

To strengthen Medicaid supports that help people with disabilities with their lives in the community, including finding employment, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced it will offer in-depth technical assistance to five National Provider Organizations (NPOs) on competitive employment. The full announcement is below.

National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network
Application Deadline: December 16, 2019

The National Expansion of Employment Opportunities Network (NEON) is a new initiative of the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) within the U.S. Department of Labor. There is a growing interest to increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities, including those with significant disabilities and mental health disabilities. However, for many providers of employment services for people with disabilities and the national organizations that represent them, there are relatively few opportunities to access the technical support needed in order to help providers transform their service delivery systems to sustain a successful business while helping employees with significant disabilities achieve successful competitive integrated employment.

NEON has been established to address this growing need by providing National Provider Organizations (NPOs) with technical support in developing strategic plans to effectively increase competitive integrated employment opportunities for the individuals they serve, including those with significant disabilities and mental health disabilities who have faced barriers to employment. NEON will provide five (5) NPOs with technical assistance from a pool of national Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), who serve as peer mentors in provider transformation and customized employment. Furthermore, NEON will provide one-on-one technical support for up to five Local Provider Organizations (LPOs) who are members within each NPO. NEON will give its participating organizations the opportunity to network with one another and to learn about effective strategies through peer-to-peer mentoring.

NEON is expected to be a three-year program, dependent on appropriations. In year one, five (5) NPOs will be selected. Each NPO will select up to five (5) LPOs from their membership. If continued in year two, NEON will expand its impact at the local level to 25 additional LPOs within each NPO. The original five local organizations from year one will serve as mentors to the additional 25 local organizations that are chosen to receive the additional technical assistance in year two. In year three, the participating organizations will continue to receive technical assistance and are expected to be on a sustainable path to increasing and expanding the availability of competitive integrated employment options for the individuals they serve.

Provider transformation is a complex, multifaceted, continual growth process. Using ODEP’s Criteria for Performance Excellence in Employment First Systems Change, each participating provider will begin with a self-assessment and work with an agreed upon SME to consult with the organization’s leadership and stakeholders to explore options and ideas to increase competitive integrated employment outcomes. Examples of technical assistance to providers may include:

  1. Staff training
    1. Customized employment
    2. Discovery
    3. Individual Placement and Support (IPS)
    4. Employer partnerships and engagement
    5. Job coaching
    6. Fading supports
  2. Strategic plan development
  3. Staff development and restructuring
  4. Transportation solutions
  5. Diversifying funding streams

Each LPO and NPO will develop their own technical assistance plans, taking into account their current situation and each organization’s individual goals to increase competitive integrated employment. ODEP has developed two Provider Transformation Manuals that are available below:

It is recommended that potential applicants review the provider transformation tools above before applying in order to better understand ODEP’s approach to provider transformation and some of the technical assistance options that may be available through NEON.

Application Portal

Important Key Dates

  • November 21, 2019, 3:00-4:00 ET: Register here for Application Portal Demonstration and NEON Q&A
  • December 16, 2019: NEON Application Deadline
  • January 6, 2020: Notification of Acceptance


  • ODEP will host an application orientation webinar for interested applicants on November 21, 2019 from 3:00-4:00 ET. During this webinar we will describe NEON, explain the scope of the work and key components of the application, and answer questions. Register here. If you are unable to attend, webinar recording will be shared with the Community of Practice.
  • if you have additional questions about this initiative and the application process, please contact Richard Davis, Sr. Policy Advisor, Workforce Systems Policy Team, ODEP. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or phone: 202-693-4923.
  • For technical issues, email EconSys Support: [email protected]