RISE Program

The RISE Program is an initiative of the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS).

Launched in 1997, its mission is to present self-employment as a realistic and viable vocational option for individuals with significant disabilities. RISE Program staff work with individuals, their families, rehabilitation professionals, and the business community to facilitate and encourage the successful launch and operation of consumer-owned ventures.

You may participate in the RISE Program in order to:

  • Explore the feasibility of self-employment as a vocational goal
  • Develop a comprehensive plan for your business
  • Determine if DORS can help you maintain, expand, or purchase an existing business
  • Receive individualized technical assistance
  • Explore multiple funding sources for your venture

Through the RISE Program, participants explore the realities of self-employment and business ownership.

After examining the pros and cons of a business venture, participants make their own choice about whether or not to proceed to the next step. This approach has enabled scores of individuals with physical, psychiatric, and cognitive disabilities to become successful business owners throughout Maryland.

Maryland’s RISE Program has dramatically increased the success rate of new businesses through a systematic approach to training and individualized technical assistance, which reduces the risk and guesswork that leads to business failure.

RISE Registration and Referral Form

Click here.

RISE Schedule

Exploring Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, June. 6, 2017
1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
DORS Workforce & Technology Center
2301 Argonne Drive
Baltimore, MD 21218

Thursday, June. 8, 2017
9:30 am to 12:30 pm
Hagerstown, DORS
16 W. Washington St.
Hagerstown, MD 21740

Business Plan Development (2 days)

Friday, June 16, 2017, and Friday, June 23, 2017
9:00 am to Noon
PDG Baltimore
1401 Severn St.
2nd Floor
Baltimore, MD 21230

Tuesday, June 20, 2017, and Tuesday, June 27, 2017
9:30 am to 12:30 pm
Germantown DORS
20010 Century Boulevard, Suite 400
Germantown, MD 20874

For more information about the class, please contact Morris Tranen

RISE Program FAQs
Who is eligible for the RISE Program?
The RISE Program is open to active consumers of the Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) interested in exploring self-employment.  If you are a consumer with DORS and are interested in exploring the possibility of self-employment, please ask your DORS counselor for a referral.

If you are not a DORS consumer, but think you may be eligible for DORS services, please contact a DORS representative. For a list of DORS locations and contact information, please visit the MD DORS Website.

What support is available through the RISE Program?
Participants in the RISE Program may apply for one-time investment, not typically exceeding $15,000. You will need to list the goods and services needed to start or expand your business as part of a business plan. If approved, DORS will purchase the approved goods and services through their procurement system


Will I have to pay it back?
No. These funds are invested on your behalf, and do not have to be repaid.


Am I required to put my own money into the business?
DORS will not be the sole funding source of any deal approved for funding through the RISE Program. Business owners are expected to contribute a percentage of the of the total project costs.


What types of businesses can be opened with assistance from the RISE Program?
  • Program participants can launch a new business, purchase an existing business, or expand an existing business.
  • The applicant must be the majority owner in the business.
  • The business must comply with all local, State, and Federal laws and regulations.
  • The business must be organized as a for-profit enterprise.
  • DORS funding cannot be used towards speculative businesses, or towards not-for-profit organizations.


PDG firmly believes that within each person is an untapped capability. Contact us to learn about our recovery-oriented programs today.

Make a Referral