ICYMI: New Partnership Brings Career Readiness Curriculum to Community

(October, 2021) Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program, ADVANCE’s Young Adult Transitions Program, and Independent Living Choices (ILC) of Brookings are partnering to bring a new career readiness and mentoring program to high school and transition-aged young adults with disabilities. 

BCYMP was recently one of 33 mentoring programs nationwide to achieve a Disability Mentoring Certificate, which qualified them to be an expansion site for Boston-based Partners for Youth’s (PYD) Career Readiness Curriculum, an inclusive job-readiness program that addresses barriers to employment for youth and young adults with disabilities.

“We know mentoring,” said Ali Teesale, BCYMP’s Interim Executive Director, “and ADVANCE and ILC know workforce readiness. This partnership will allow three organizations to combine their strengths to better serve youth with disabilities and future employers in our community. Logistical details are coming together just in time for October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month and particularly National Disability Mentoring Day on October 20th.” The partnership is made possible through funding from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF).

Two staff each from BCYMP, ADVANCE and ILC were trained on PYD’s Career Readiness Curriculum. In the spring semester, they will begin delivering it to students at the Brookings High School and those from the surrounding communities that participate in the ADVANCE Young Adult Transitions Program. Students in the program will also have access to both online and community-based mentoring opportunities. 

“Career readiness for all learners is as essential as it has ever been.  The partnership to support career readiness for students with disabilities will ensure the Brookings community and the Brookings School District are delivering on our shared vision and commitment to provide career pathway options to all learners in the schools.  I couldn’t be more excited about this partnership and the opportunities that will be created as a result of our collaboration,” stated Dr. Klint Willert, Superintendent of Schools, Brookings School District.

Partners for Youth’s (PYD) Career Readiness Curriculum has existed for over 20 years in the Boston area. Brookings was selected as an expansion site because of the strength of community partners like BCYMP, ADVANCE and ILC, and their demonstrated commitment to serving youth and young adults with disabilities.

“The ADVANCE Young Adult Transitions Program is excited to partner with BCYMP and ILC to provide a fantastic career readiness curriculum to local and surrounding community transition aged students,” said Ramona Kauk, Young Adult Transitions Coordinator.

“The curriculum components and overall universal design for learning will be incredibly impactful as these young people begin to enter the workforce. In addition, the mentoring component will provide many beneficial opportunities for support for the students.”

“Independent Living Choices is excited to partner with Advance, Brookings High School, and Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program to expand needed services to local youth with disabilities.”

The PYD Career Readiness Program addresses barriers to employment via a three-tiered curriculum involving academic learning, real-world experiences, and mentoring. The curriculum is based upon the principles of Universal Design for Learning and includes flexible goals, methods, materials, assessments, and accommodations for learning difference. 

The three agency partners and the Brookings School District are meeting to plan for implementation of the new program beginning in the spring semester. Any individual interested in volunteering as a mentor for the program is encouraged to contact BCYMP at Ali@bcymentoring.org

The National Disability Mentoring certification program was made possible through funding provided by the Milbank Foundation. To learn more about the Disability Mentoring Certification or enroll in an upcoming cohort, visit www.disabilitymentors.org.

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About the BROOKINGS COUNTY YOUTH MENTORING PROGRAM: The mission of Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program is to increase resiliency of young people in our community and add protective factors by building and supporting consistent, encouraging relationships with trained, caring adults. In 2021, BCYMP was one of 33 mentoring programs nationwide to earn the Disability Mentoring Certificate.

About INDEPENDENT LIVING CHOICES:  Youth Transition Services is a core service of Independent Living Choices. Through these services, ILC assists youth with disabilities in gaining the skills needed to make a successful transition to adulthood. These services are provided in two ways. First, Postsecondary Transition Services are provided to youth with significant disabilities who are no longer receiving services from a school district. They may be looking for employment, exploring additional education opportunities, or planning to live on their own. ILC may assist by teaching Independent Living Skills, referring participants for Vocational Rehabilitation Services, or assisting them in finding housing. Additionally, Transition Services are provided to youth between the ages of 14 and 21 via Youth Transition Programs that focus on employment skills, self-advocacy, independent living skills, and more. These programs are offered during various times of the year and programs vary by office.

About ADVANCE’S YOUNG ADULT TRANSITIONS PROGRAM: The Advance Young Adult Transitions (YAT) Program provides opportunities for young adults with disabilities through training, opportunities, and services to achieve competitive and integrated employment. YAT also promotes experiences for each student to develop the tools to live as independently as possible as well as participate and have meaningful roles in their communities. 

About PARTNERS FOR YOUTH WITH DISABILITIES: PYD’s mission is to create a world where young people with disabilities will be able to live with dignity and pride in who they are, and to lead self-determined lives filled with purpose. To make this happen, we build the skills and abilities of young people with disabilities, and increase the inclusivity of workplaces, organizations, and communities.

About NATIONAL DISABILITY MENTORING DAY, Oct, 20: Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) is a large-scale national effort coordinated by AAPD to promote career development for students and job-seekers with disabilities through career exploration and ongoing mentoring relationships.

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