Keywords: USA, Canada, consultancy, training, customized employment

Griffin-Hammis Associates

Over the last two decades, Griffin-Hammis Associates (GHA) has served as one of the leading national and international experts in customized employment training and technical assistance and the pioneer of micro-enterprise for people with disabilities. GHA’s mission is premised on the value that all people can work and that communities- and community businesses- are strengthened by the presence and participation of all members. GHA works closely with state government agencies to transform policies and standards and to teach employment service providers strategies for learning about job seekers with disabilities and the businesses in their communities in ways that reveal or create mutually-beneficial job matches. GHA has a rich history of helping service providers to build capacity and achieve high-level employment outcomes for people who have historically had little or no opportunity to work, including those with intellectual/developmental disabilities and chronic mental illness.

About the practice at a glance
Name of OrganisationGriffin-Hammis Associates
Type of organisationNational NGO and/or Service Provider
of Implementation
United States, Australia, Canada and Spain
Year started2000
Funding modelPublic Funding, Vocational Rehabilitation, Developmental Disability Agencies and grant dollars

GHA contracts with state systems like Medicaid and Vocational Rehabilitation agencies who contract with providers of employment services for people with disabilities. GHA averages about one million dollars in contracts per year to enhance the services delivery of Customized Employment throughout the USA.


Impact and growth 

Since its inception, GHA has worked in over 40 states in the USA and supported projects in Canada, Spain and Australia.  GHA has guided hundreds of employment service agencies to transform to individualized employment matchmaking, advanced policy development at the state and federal level, and assisted more than 500 individuals with disabilities to secure employment or start small businesses. 

GHAs work expanded exponentially over the last decade with a growing opportunity to support national transformation to best-practice CE matchmaking services, including supporting states to: revise standards and processes, implement comprehensive employment service provider training and mentoring programs, and enact quality assurance systems that ensure equal access to high-quality employment services. We currently lead large transformation projects in six states and smaller projects in 20 more. 

GHA has trained thousands of employment specialists across the country, supported over 500 job seekers on their employment pathway resulting in higher employment outcomes that range from self-employment, resource ownership and gainful wage employment.    


GHA believes everyone has a story to tell and the most successful employment stems from first discovering each person’s individual genius and then finding a community businesses where this genius will thrive.   

Our unique approach to Discovering Personal Genius.™: Discovery is premised on the idea that tests alone – or even the observations of long-time helping professionals – are often not the best predictors of the skills, interests, capacities, and motivations of the individual. Instead, Discovery begins by meeting people in their homes and leads to an understanding of that person’s skills, interests, and supportive relationships – all of which are crucial to paving a path to employment. Discovering Personal Genius culminates with the identification of three vocational themes that become the foundation for customized job development. The process tells us what we need to know in order to shape a successful position for the job-seeker and to move forward with job development. 

In 2015, GHA pioneered the development of the first Customized Employment Fidelity Scale, to provide an evidence-based, objective measure for determining whether matchmaking services provided aligned with best practice.  All employment staff are trained in these fidelity practices. This provides the employment organization with the tools they need to evaluate their own practices and identify areas that require change after the training and mentoring end. 

Target group 

Customized Employment can serve anyone who experiences barriers to employment. However, it has primarily been seen as a way for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to obtain employment.  CE is designed to support individuals who have previously been labelled as unemployable. Our stance is that if an assessment tool indicates that someone cannot work, its time to get a new tool. The problems do not lie with the person; they lie with our perceptions and practices. 

Other outcomes 

GHAs early work demonstrating the efficacy of customized matchmaking services played a seminal role in the inclusion of CE in federal policy (WIOA, 201s). GHA provides training, technical assistance, and fidelity training to ensure that Customized Employment services are delivered with efficacy and result in full wage employment outcomes for people with disabilities. Projects range from 1-5 years to impact long-term systematic change and frequently include state and local policy restructuring. 


We asked projects to outline their impact model (also called Theory of Change) – their main target groups, the key activities they offer these target groups, and what impact they want to achieve:

Target GroupActivityImpactIndicator
Employment StaffTraining and mentoringBetter employment outcomes that align with employment seeker desires for workDiscovery and Job Development Fidelity Scales
System Funding AgenciesMake recommendations for system funding structure to implement customized employmentRates that cover the cost of Customized Employment Service DeliveryDiscovery and Job Development Fidelity Scales
Employment SeekerReceive Customized Employment support to learn about their own personal genius and conditions for employmentCreating employment in the community of the employment seeker that meets their conditions, skills and contributionsSatisfaction of person employed and Discovery and Job Development Fidelity Scales


We have already replicated our innovation 

  • As we refined our “customized” approach to employment and were able to support more and more people with successful and innovative matchmaking services- including self-employment, GHA’s business and staff grew, until today when we now have 16 associates and provide employment training and mentoring in over forty states and Canada.  
  • As our work has grown, our replication model has evolved as well.  The GHA replication model addresses four pillars necessary for revamping employment service delivery:  training, mentoring, organizational transformation, and quality assurance/fidelity to best practice.  GHA begins by providing foundational training in customized employment and then offers face to face and virtual mentoring to employment professionals as they provide matchmaking services. We also help the agencies that provide employment services to review their own internal policies and revise them as necessary to promote better employment outcomes.  
  • The majority of our funding for our replication projects comes from state government agencies that support disabilities services such as Medicaid agencies, Developmental Disability Organizations, and some United States federally funded projects.     



GHA has worked to obtain grants throughout the US to replicate our practices and are working with various states in the US to replicate our model.  The Impact Transfer program would support us to take that replication to the next level expanding internationally. 

Project owner for this program, with the necessary skills and seniority: Beth Keeton , Executive Director   

  • As one of the nation’s leading experts on integrated community employment for people with disabilities, Beth’s work has transformed systems and supported countless people to launch rewarding careers and build lives with greater autonomy and economic freedom.  
  • Since 1996, Beth has provided employment training and technical assistance at the state, national, and international level. She developed the first national certification training curriculum for customized self-employment, collaborated with the Workforce Innovation Technical Assistance Center (WINTAC) and other national colleagues to develop the Core Features of Quality Supported Employment Services and the Essential Elements of Customized Employment, supported the Association of Community Rehabilitation Educators to develop the core competencies of Customized Employment, and served as a national Subject Matter Expert for the WIOA-mandated Congressional Advisory Committee.  

Over the next 3-5 years, GHA will continue to support state transformation efforts and expand the capacity of service providers to deliver CE matchmaking services.  GHA also seeks to build a standard that ensures all people throughout the country have access not just to CE services, but to high-quality, best-practice CE services, using an evidence-based fidelity scale. We also seek to increase the funding for CE services and to eradicate the use of sub-minimum wage. 


Since Cary Griffin and Dave Hammis formed their original partnership in the late 1990’s, the interplay between teaching and learning has shaped everything we do.  All the GHA employees and consultants started their careers by supporting individuals with disabilities to find employment and build their work lives.  As professionals, we taught community businesses and the employees with disabilities how to work well together, but we they also taught us- about what they needed and how we could better support them.   

Through the years, our focus has shifted more to teaching other employment professionals and the government employment service systems, but the dynamic between teaching and learning is as critical as ever. Joining the Zero Project Transfer Program would provide us the opportunity to receive the support we need to be able to share what we’ve learned about the most effective employment matchmaking services with professionals in other geographies.   

What is the organisation hoping to learn from taking part in the programme? 

We would greatly appreciate the training and mentoring the Zero Transfer Project could provide to us to maximize the effectiveness of our replication efforts in other geographies. We believe the Impact Transfer Program could help us address the challenge of how to build momentum and make customized employment accessible throughout the world. 

Key Questions include:  

1) How can we best highlight the power and opportunities associated with customized employment in other cultures and geographies? 

2) How can we refine the fidelity scale to make sure it address the unique characteristics of other geographies?  

3) What can we learn from the Zero Transfer project trainers and mentors, the organizations of the alumni community, and the professionals who replicate our model to improve our own employment services?