BrainWorks CSE Model

What is the BrainWorks Customized Self-Employment Model?

The BrainWorks Customized Self-Employment (CSE) model is a two year research project funded by Kessler Foundation. The project has three main objectives:

  1. To develop a customized self-employment model specific to adults with brain injury.
  2. To offer self-employment as an option for individuals with brain injury. 
  3. To gather evidence that self-employment is a viable option for individuals with brain injury.

Through model development, this project will provide self-employment services to individuals with brain injury, in addition to developing sustainable system for this population within Alaska's employment service system. The model is being developed with the help of project staff, including entrepreneur consultants with brain injury, self-employment facilitators, and project partners. The self-employment facilitators are located in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. They will aid in the implementation of the model and assist individuals with self-employment goals.

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Contact Information

Karen Heath
Project Director
(907) 264-6273

Danielle Reed
Project Coordinator
(907) 264-6230

What does the BrainWorks CSE model offer to individuals with brain injury?

The BranWorks CSE model focuses on increasing awareness and knowledge around self- employment, choosing a business concept using discovery, developing a business plan, preparing entrepreneurs to launch their businesses, and assisting in launching a business.
The key steps in the BrainWorks model include:

  • Introduction to Customised Self-Employment for individuals with brain injury
  • Orientation to Self-Employment for supports
  • Discovery
  • Business concept development
  • Business planning
  • Business counseling
  • Start-up and business launch activities
  • Ongoing business activities

What is customized self-employment?

 Customized self-employment focuses on an individual's strengths and works to design a business that fits the individual's unique lifestyle, strengths, and disability. It starts with Discovery, which is a method of uncovering an individual's unique abilities, passions, and ideal working conditions. Discovery can lead to business ideas that may not be realized through traditional vocational evaluation processes. Discovery guides the business type, operations, marketing strategies, and expectations.

Individuals with brain injury present unique challenges that may interfere with sustaining employment, such as memory deficits, fatigue, executive functioning impairments, physical impairments, and increased irritability and aggressiveness. Customized self-employment encourages an individual to recognize their strengths, engage natural supports, and develop coping skills so that they can be successful. The support team is an essential part of Discovery and customized self-employment. Both natural and paid supports can offer insight on an individual's strengths and can also help brainstorm business ideas.