About APSE

The Association of People Supporting Employment First (APSE) is the only national organization focused exclusively on Employment First to facilitate the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community.

APSE members recognize that everyone has abilities to contribute and their work should be recognized and rewarded with fair pay, creating inclusive workplaces. Employment enriches and adds meaning to every life, and workplaces and communities are enhanced when they embrace differences.

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What is Employment First?

Employment First means that employment in the general workforce should be the first and preferred option for individuals with disabilities receiving assistance from publicly-funded systems. 

Simply put, Employment First means real jobs for real wages. 

Photo of a person smiling at work in a hospital, with a second person behind.

All people with disabilities have competitive employment in an inclusive workforce.

Photo of a man in a suit that says "Why I CESP: Workforce Development."

To advance employment equity for people with disabilities.

Photo of a woman smiling in front of the 2019 APSE National sign.

We believe that everyone can and should work, and have the dignity of determining their career path.


APSE has and will always support equal rights and fair treatment for everyone, both in the workplace and in the community. In June 2020, in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, National APSE staff began engaging with renewed earnest to examine our role and responsibilities as an organization that operates within the broader civil rights movement. We are, first and foremost, an organization that fights for #RealWorkRealPay for people with disabilities. Yet, we acknowledge tremendous diversity within the disability community and that our work needs to reflect this with intention.

Developed by APSE’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the following declaration represents a stake-in-the-ground to guide our day-to-day operations. As we continue to learn and grow, we know that our language and actions will need to evolve continually. Therefore, our declaration is an invitation to engage with us, challenge our thinking, and partner with APSE to do more and better.

Our declaration

APSE’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is central to our mission across all our work and our actions. We believe diversity unlocks innovation, which drives us to create a culture that celebrates and supports all.

  • We will drive individual and organizational accountability and provide resources and tools, which will build the necessary capabilities to direct systemic change.
  • We will foster an inclusive climate by listening and engaging with our diverse communities so that everyone feels welcomed, valued, and empowered to bring their authentic whole selves.
  • We will build in coalition and develop opportunities for historically excluded individuals, groups, and voices to be leaders in our work.
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Click on the magnifying glass in the lower right corner, or click to reach our: National Team, National Board, State Contacts, or Committees

Read what’s on the minds of APSE staff, members, and colleagues. Find APSE Podcast episodes and more!

Learn more about our work and the benefits of membership. Join us or log in for member access.

Become Certified

Learn about the Certified Employment Support Professional™ credential.

Professionals certified as Certified Employment Support Professional™ (CESP) have demonstrated a sufficient level of knowledge and skill to provide integrated employment services to a variety of populations.

CESP logo.

Strategic Partners

APSE is pleased to highlight our strategic partnerships with companies and organizations that support Employment First.

Sponsor APSE & Learn More


Read about landmark moments of the Employment First movement from the last 30 years.

Financial Information

Go to Guidestar to view the details of APSE’s finances. External link to Guidestar.

Click HERE for APSE's Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report (PDF)

APSE is committeed to

  • Providing success stories to increase expectations, shatter stereotypes, and create a better understanding about the employment potential of people with disabilities
  • Sharing that supported employment is a well-researched and proven, evidence-based business practice
  • Educating policymakers, by facilitating member outreach and conducting our own, on the need for equal opportunities and fair treatment in the workplace
  • Promoting the role of employment in the transitional youth directly into post-secondary education or competitive employment options
  • Speaking as a unified voice representing human service professionals, people with disabilities, educators, employers, family members and other stakeholders
APSE logo. A green 1 behind the "E". Text: Employment First, Employment for All.

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