Partnership brings new career readiness curriculum to Brookings

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BROOKINGS – 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 with Disabilities’ (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 Oct. 20.” The partnership is made possible through funding from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation.

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,” Brookings School District Superintendent Klint Willert said.

Partners for Youth’s 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,” she added.

Independent Living Choices representatives said they are also 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 [email protected]

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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