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ODEP Grant to Assist Job Training Programs at SU and OCC for People With Disabilities
Syracuse University, Onondaga Community College (OCC), the Syracuse City School District, the public workforce system and regional economic development and disability service agents are partnering with employers in high-growth industries to prepare youths and young adults with disabilities for skilled careers. The Onondaga Pathways to Careers (OPC) Project is funded by a five-year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). OCC received $1,028,869 in funding for the first year of the cooperative agreement.
The OPC will connect secondary education, the vocational rehabilitation and workforce investment systems, OCC, Central New York high-growth industries and Syracuse University to create an integrated, longitudinal pathway to effectively facilitate transition for youths and young adults with disabilities (ages 14-24) into highly sought technical training in targeted high growth industries, and/or a four-year degree and career advancement. OPC presents a complete re-envisioning of the individualized education program transition process. Rather than students with disabilities merely graduating to work in minimum wage jobs, programs and services will be set in place, aligned with OPC educational pathways, to accelerate their entry into post-secondary training and high-growth industry jobs paying living wages.
The project will focus on four priority high-growth industries identified by the CNY Regional Economic Development Council: advanced manufacturing, health information technology, computer information systems and electrical technology. OPC will provide comprehensive support to this population along a pathway with multiple entry points, to skilled living-wage employment.
OPC is driven by five central goals:
• capacity-building to develop and implement a well-coordinated, comprehensive, sustainable student- and employer-centered system of support that promotes access, success and career entry for individuals with disabilities;
• career exploration and educational access to increase access and enrollment among youth and young adults with disabilities in career and technical programs aligned with high-growth industries and occupations;
• educational attainment to increase the persistence and completion rates of students with disabilities who are enrolled in post-secondary credentials aligned with high-growth industries and occupations;
• employment to increase living-wage employment among young adults with disabilities; and
• dissemination to enable community colleges across New York State to adopt the OPC model to increase enrollment, training completion, and career entry in high-growth fields among young adults with disabilities.
The OPC project aims to graduate half (60 to 70 students) of the cohort from a two-year, credentialed OPC pathway by May 2016, and approximately that number each subsequent year. Three months after graduation OPC anticipates 30 percent of graduates will be employed at a living wage in a CNY growth industry or have enrolled in a four-year college. At six months, 63 percent of graduates; and at one year 90 percent of graduates.
“This grant is one of just two awarded by the Department of Labor nationwide, and I am glad Syracuse is a part of such a great initiative” says Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud. “I look forward to the University partnering with OCC and the community to achieve positive outcomes for students with disabilities and create a model program nationally.”
“We are thrilled to work with our partners in education, workforce and the community on this project, which will enhance the lives of people with disabilities who have so much to contribute to all of Central New York. We thank the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy for its belief in our plan and our ability to work together and execute it,” says Casey Crabill, OCC president.