“Paid work experience in high school is a strong predictor of positive adult employment outcomes
for individuals with developmental disabilities” (Summer Work for ME grant proposal). Janet May of University of Maine’s Center for Community Inclusion & Disability Studies asked KFI to partner on their “Summer Work for ME” grant funded by the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council in an effort to provide area students with disabilities a paid summer work experience . As stated in the grant, although “adolescent with disabilities seldom participate in paid or unpaid work experiences as part of their transition to adult life”, “Summer jobs can be especially valuable providing (these students) with valuable insight into the world of work as well as helping them clarify their own careers.”
Jeff Hooke, KFI Vocational Coordinator, was a part of the team that approached Eastern Maine Community College about the possibility of offering area high school students with disabilities a variety of summer work experiences. In addition, Jeff hired and supervised the job coaches for the project and was the liaison between the EMCC staff and the job coaches and student workers. Liz Saucier, Transition Counselor with the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (VR) was also a key partner in the project. Liz identified Orono High School and the students who would be participating in the project and VR generously funded both the total job coach hours and the student wages for the entire six weeks.
Students worked from late June through early August, earning upwards of $800. They each had three different two-week work experiences in a variety of environments at the college including: Admissions & Enrollment, Dining Services, Library, and the President’s Office. At the end of the project, Terri Adam, Special Assistant to President and Human Resources at EMCC remarked, “Each of our departments not only enjoyed the students and job coaches, but we benefited from the work they did. All of you did a fabulous job ensuring the students were engaged and that they communicated with us. Most of all, you really did make this easy for us.”