An Inclusive Talent Pipeline for American Businesses
An opportunity to modernize employment recruitment, training, and retention for Americans with disabilities.
Department of Health and Human Services
Type of Challenge: Ideas
Submission Start: 11/22/2019 05:00 PM ET
Submission End: 02/14/2020 11:59 PM ET
The Challenge: An Inclusive Talent Pipeline for American Businesses
The Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing a competition for American businesses to expand human capital pipelines by drawing upon highly talented and diverse workforces, inclusive of people with disabilities.
To achieve this, the Inclusive Talent Pipeline for American Businesses challenge will support rapid innovation and adoption of models that help businesses improve performance by recruiting and retaining workers with disabilities, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD),.
People with disabilities use creativity to adapt to the world, and in turn they develop unique strengths, such as problem-solving skills, persistence, forethought and an eagerness to innovate — all of which are essential to today’s market. American businesses that employ and support workers with disabilities see improved performance over their industry peers. On average these firms have:
- 28% higher revenue, double the net income, and
- 30% higher economic profit margins compared to businesses that did not engage in disability employment and inclusion efforts.1
In addition, companies that employ and support workers with disabilities were twice as likely as companies that do not to have higher total shareholder returns than their peers. Further:
- Innovation leads to the development of products and programs that are accessible for all.
- Investors increasingly scrutinize company culture and diversity, including disability inclusion, in investment decisions.
- Inclusive business environments often see improved productivity levels with the addition of employees with disabilities.
People with disabilities also are an important population for businesses that are working to achieve greater diversity and inclusion of their workforce. With this challenge, ACL is seeking commitments from businesses to include employees with disabilities, particularly with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in their inclusion and diversity efforts and their talent pipeline programs.
Ultimately, the workforce pipelines proposed here will enable businesses to benefit from the talents of a wider, more diverse workforce and ensure more Americans with disabilities are able to advance and compete in the future economy. ACL recognizes that businesses – from Wall Street to Main Street – are critical partners for identifying and testing solutions to this challenge.
The challenge will take part in phases, with cash prizes awarded in each phase:
- Phase 1, beginning in Fall of 2019, seeks proposals from competitors who aim to innovate and tailor the pipeline models to include individuals with IDD.
- Phase 2, beginning in Spring of 2020, participants will be asked to conduct small scale feasibility testing on the selected workforce pipeline models. Teams will convene in Washington, D.C. to propose their ideas to a panel of judges who will help select winners. Judges will have expertise in increasing access into the labor force for people with disabilities.
- Phase 3, beginning in Summer 2020, will examine the long-term sustainability and the Grand Prize winner will be announced in October of 2020.
ACL is looking for innovative workforce pipelines that:
- Serve people with a wide range of disabilities, including individuals with IDD;
- Redefine career development requirements and pathways using non-traditional methods;
- Innovate and incorporate pipeline components that specifically address the employment barriers for the IDD community;
- Include individuals from the IDD community throughout the development and testing of models;
- Include a business commitment to implement the model for Phase 2 (small scale testing) of the challenge; and
- Lead to competitive, integrated employment.
What is a Challenge?
A challenge (also referred to as "prize challenge,” "competition," "prize competition," "incentive prize" or any combination thereof) allows the public to solve problems presented by federal agencies and receive awards for the best solutions. This boils down to three steps:
- Agency announces a problem to the public.
- Participants create and submit solutions to the problem.
- Agency evaluates solutions and awards prizes to the best ones.
This process may sound similar to grants or contracts, but challenges differ in small and significant ways. In grants and contracts an agency receives proposals to do work, chooses one and then pays the monetary award incrementally as the work is done. In challenges, an agency generally selects winner(s) after assessing work that has been completed. In more complex, multi-phase challenges, phase winners may be selected progressively as development stages are completed.
Unlike contracts in particular, which provide detailed and comprehensive specifications of the work that needs to be done, challenges define a smaller set of requirements, which allows participants to bring more of their own creativity to solutions. This can be advantageous when a problem can be solved many different ways, including ways that the agency is not even aware of. The open-ended approach can entice participation from those who may not have direct expertise in the problem subject matter area but can lend expertise from their diverse backgrounds.
Challenges can serve multiple goals beyond sourcing solutions to problems, including:
- Signal interest in an area that you think markets should be doing more to serve
- Reach wide communities of experts
- Deliver messages to the public in a fun, interactive way
- Generate interest in new services, data or technologies your agency provides
- Develop public buy-in for agency initiatives
For more information, please visit: https://www.challenge.gov/toolkit/faq/
Today’s Workforce for Americans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
With the nation’s strong economic growth and historically low unemployment rates, America’s business leaders are actively searching for diverse and talented workers to build an inclusive and dynamic national workforce. Despite the more than seven million unfilled jobs, unemployment among Americans with disabilities remains above 70%. For Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the number is even greater with 82% remaining out of the workforce. For individuals with IDD who are employed, data consistently show that the majority work part-time in entry-level positions, have low income, and have limited access to employee benefits. In addition to these gaps, many career tracks are often not accessible to the IDD community because of requirements such as completion of higher education or having a driver’s license; many of these requirements are not necessary to succeed.
In today’s thriving and competitive market, businesses across the United States are providing innovative and competitive opportunities to workers to develop new skills and enter into career-tracked jobs. From apprenticeships and training programs, to leadership rotational programs, and integrative internships, employers are developing pipelines for recruiting and retaining talent. Paired against the deep bench of talent from the population of Americans with disabilities, there is current opportunity to develop and expand employment recruitment and workforce pipeline programs to target, train, and retain the talents of workers with disabilities, including those with IDD.
The Opportunity to Modernize Employment Recruitment, Training, and Retention for Americans with Disabilities
How does a company pave the way in the area of disability employment and inclusion? Most success stories showcase companies who bring creativity and innovation to the process of recruitment and training for hiring and retaining people with disabilities.1 One example includes how technology firms have examined the initial barrier to why people with autism were not getting placed in jobs, and at least one is now partnering with a local company to bring in qualified candidates for a week-long academy of training and technical exercises.
While there are effective ways of building the pipeline to employment for people with disabilities, current best practices in workforce recruitment and training for individuals with IDD require some innovative components such as spending time with individuals in community settings, working with families, and negotiating job responsibilities with an employer.
- American Association of People with Disabilities & Disability:IN (2018). Getting to Equal 2018: The Disability Inclusion Advantage. Retrieved August, 17, 2019, from https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/pdf-89/accenture-disability-inclusion-research-report.pdf
Total Cash Prize Pool
Phase 1 – Proposal of Innovative Models: Total Cash Prize of $100,000
HHS will make up to five awards
Phase 2 – Small Scale Testing of Models: Total Cash Prize of $80,000
HHS will make up to two awards
Phase 3 – Promise of Model Sustainability: Total Cash Prize of $200,000
HHS will make two awards
Winners will also obtain:
- Trip to Washington, D.C. for a demo day
- Mentorship from experts in the field
- Networking opportunities
- Promotion of business innovation model
Eligibility Rules for Participating in the Competition: To be eligible to win a prize under this challenge, an individual or entity—
(1) Shall have registered to participate in the competition under the rules promulgated by the Administration for Community Living;
(2) Shall have complied with all the requirements under this section;
(3) In the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States;
(4) May not be a Federal entity or Federal employee acting within the scope of their employment (all non-HHS federal employees must consult with their agency Ethics Official to determine whether the federal ethics rules will limit or prohibit the acceptance of a COMPETES Act prize);
(5) Shall not be an HHS employee;
(6) Federal grantees may not use Federal funds to develop submissions unless consistent with the purpose of their grant award; and
(7) Federal contractors may not use Federal funds from a contract to develop COMPETES Act challenge applications or to fund efforts in support of a COMPETES Act challenge submission.
Terms and Conditions
An individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible because the individual or entity used Federal facilities or consulted with Federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the competition on an equitable basis.
Participants must also agree to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the Federal Government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from my participation in this prize contest, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arises through negligence or otherwise.
Participants are required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility in the amount of $0 for claims by a third party for death, bodily injury, or property damage, or loss resulting from an activity carried out in connection with participation in a challenge.
Participants must also agree to indemnify the Federal Government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to Challenge activities.
The Administration for Community Living reserves the right to cancel, suspend, and/or modify the Challenge, or any part of it, for any reason, at the Administration for Community Living’s sole discretion.
More details will come in November 2019.
How To Enter
More details will come in November 2019.
Point of Contact
Have feedback or questions about this challenge? Send the challenge manager an email