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Community and Internet Resources

Life Planning: Transition: School-to-Work

Learn From Others' Journeys

One of the greatest ways to learn and make progress is through thesharing of experiences and personal journeys. Following are resources that provide insight into the paths others have taken from school to work.

Going to Work Video Series from Wisconsin Youth First provides the personal accounts of six Wisconsin youth with varying disabilities who have transitioned to competitive employment. They describe how they accomplished their work goals using a team of supportive family, friends and service providers.

Model Programs

21andable.org is an initiative of United Way of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania that is working to create a roadmap for youth with disabilities who are transitioning out of the education and supportive services system. In 2013 they launched a two-year pilot program that embedded a full-time Career Transition Liaison within the participating employer, Giant Eagle. The liason travels between Giant Eagle sites, providing a number of support services, such as assisting in the development of an Employment Action Plan for team members who need support. In addition, the liaison acts as a consultant with Giant Eagle Human Resources to determine appropriate job placements for potential future employees, aligns with school and community job coaches, trainers and teams to support success, and facilitates a training program for the Giant Eagle staff to provide a broad overview of the nature of disabilities and enrich their culture of inclusion. Having a full time liason in the capacity is rare, and the idea is that improving access to this support person will improve employment prospects for participating students. The ultimate goal is for this concept to be replicated in other industries throughout Pennsylvania. For more on this project and for access to numerous transition resources, visit 21andable.org.

New Sign 3LPlace has developed the Transition Curriculum Project for service providers, educators and therapists. The idea is to develop a best practice model that can be adapted to serve a wide variety of transition-aged youth with disabilities. The curriculum is available, free of charge on the 3LPlace website. Phase One of the curriculum covers teaching approaches and tools as well as an extensive module covering self awareness exercises and activities.


American Association of People with Disabilities' (AAPD) Disability Mentoring Day (DMD) is held on the third Wednesday of October each year. Students with disabilities are paired with local business mentors in their career of choice and have access to hands-on career exploration, on-site job shadowing, and ongoing mentoring leading to internship and employment opportunities. While DMD is just one day per year, many coordinators offer year round opportunities.

Creating Mentoring Opportunities for Youth with Disabilities: Issues and Suggested Strategies is an Issue Brief developed by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition that provides guidance on how to better address the unique needs of students with disabilities in mentoring programs.

Engaging Youth in Work Experiences: An Innovative Strategies Practice Brief, developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability For Youth, highlights exemplary school-to-work programs and provides ideas for others to duplicate in their communities.

Internships: The On-Ramp to Employment: A Guide for Students with Disabilities to Getting and Making the Most of an Internship covers such topics as:

  • Investigating your career interests and options
  • Preparing a compelling resume and cover letter
  • Preparing for the Interview
  • Ensuring the internship is the best fit for your situation
  • Preparing for the work ahead, and much more

    [The preceding resource was developed by the National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth.]

    National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability For Youth provides information about employment and youth with disabilities. Their website provides information for parents and families, youth with disabilities and the professionals who work with them. NCWD Youth is is based at the Institute for Educational Leadership.

    Office of Disability Employment Policy: Workforce Recruitment Program has developed a Video Series that addresses various topics that will help young people with disabilities navigate the job search process. Videos cover such topics as developing effective resumes, skills for success, time and stress management, accommodation requests, and many more. The Workforce Recruitment Program is is a recruitment and referral program that connects federal and private sector employers nationwide with highly motivated college students and recent graduates with disabilities.

    Project Search is a comprehensive, year-long program that matches students with developmental disabilities in their last year of school, with a year-long internship at a host business. While in the program, students are assigned a mentor and meet regularly with a job coach. Throughout the year-long program, students rotate between three internships that provide tasks with varying degrees of difficulty. The program is currently available in 42 states.

    Real People, Real Jobs: Stories From the Front Lines highlights the employment successes of people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) who are working in paid jobs in their communities. Learn more about these people and the promising practices that led to their success so that you might duplicate this success in your life.

    School Days to Pay Days: An Employment Planning Guide for Families of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities offers practical advice and tips to help parents become more involved in preparing their children for future employment. While many of the resources in this guide are located in Massachusetts, the guide offers a great deal of general information that is applicable throughout the United States. [This "mini site" was produced by the Institute for Community Inclusion.]

    Soft Skills to Pay the Bills Mastering Soft Skills for Workplace Success, a curriculum developed by the US Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy, focuses on "soft" or workforce readiness skills for youth ages 14 to 21. The basic structure of the program is comprised of modular, hands-on, engaging activities that focus on six key skill areas: communication, enthusiasm and attitude, teamwork, networking, problem solving and critical thinking, and professionalism. While the full curriculum is designed for educators, the ODEP has also developed a brief Skills to Pay the Bills Video Series that introduces students to these concepts.

    Transition Resource Center, Texas, has developed a general overview of the employment process for youth with disabilities. Parents will learn which types of employment are available, who should be involved in the process, tips on how to develop a job search strategy, and finally how to identify accommodations and natural supports. While based in Texas, this guide is useful to parents throughout the United States.

    State Listings

    New Jersey

    New Jersey Students In Transition From School To Work from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Vocational Rehabilitation, Services for Individuals with Disabilities offers an Information guide for students and parents and guidelines for school personnel.

    For more on the topic of Life Planning:

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