Portland State University’s Career & Community Studies: Inclusive College and Employment

Ann Fullerton is a Professor of Special Education at Portland State University and the Co-Director of the Think College Inclusion Oregon Project. Photo Credit: PSU

By Ann Fullerton

High school students with intellectual disability typically attend public school with their same age peers. But what happens at graduation? Historically, those peers go on to college or vocational training or work but the student with ID may go home with few options to continue their growth toward the adult life they want. Until recently, individuals with ID were excluded from attending college and sometimes from work in gainful integrated employment.

Recent national and Oregon legislation has removed barriers and established funding to develop inclusive college and employment experiences for students with ID. The U.S. Department of Education awarded funds to 44 universities nationwide, including Portland State University to lead the way in the creation of inclusive college and career experiences for students with ID. Research indicates that graduates of these inclusive college/employment certificate programs are achieving gainful integrated employment and higher wages (www.thinkcollege.net).

One of the best ways to envision these is to view this 4 minute movie trailer or 25 minute film: http://www.thinkcollege.net/rethinking-college And to read about college students with ID here: http://www.thinkcollege.net/publications/think-college-stories

Portland State University (PSU) has created the first four year inclusive college and employment program for individuals with intellectual disabilities in Oregon. The mission of Career & Community Studies (CCS) is to “…. establish a fully inclusive college experience for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) with the expectation that matriculated students will have access and opportunity to the same services, programs and courses as other PSU students. Each student’s college experience will be individually designed to support inclusive academic and career experiences leading to meaningful, integrated employment and self determination….”

You may know this project as  “Think College Inclusion Oregon,”  the grant that supports this work. PSU’s project is part of a larger national effort described here: https://thinkcollege.net/

 

How It Works

CCS students establish their career goals through a person centered planning process and then work in competitive wage integrated employment on or off campus. Advisors help student find college courses that add to their preparation for their career area. In years 3 and 4 students move into off campus employment that aligns with their career interests.

Students attend college classes on their own. They receive academic support through an Individualized Learning Plan and academic coaching frorn other PSU students. They explore and engage in campus life with a peer navigator if they wish. A goal of PSU is for all graduates  to become engaged citizens in the community and this goal is enacted through community based learning in courses and through 150+ student – run organizations.

PSU students in CCS are thriving and PSU staff, faculty, students and employers on and off campus are committed partners in this exciting endeavor.

New Job Opportunity within the Program

PSU – CCS is currently seeking applicants for the CCS Employment and Campus Inclusion Coordinator. This position supports student employment throughout the 4-year college and employment experience. We are looking for applicants who value employment for all and have extensive experience and demonstrated skills in the areas of job development, job coaching,  other job supports. An excerpt of description is below…

The purpose of this Advisor/Counselor position is to support the inclusion of college students with intellectual disabilities in employment experiences and campus involvement throughout their 4-year Career and Community Studies Certificate (CCS) experience at Portland State University. This position will focus on developing integrated, paid employment for all students starting in year one within typical jobs opportunities on campus and in the community. CCS students will need to transition to career-focused off-campus jobs prior to completing their 4th year of college.

Specific job responsibilities will include providing individualized supports with CCS students (e.g., weekly advising, job development, providing job supports, implementing person-centered planning processes with students and their teams, planning and supporting the transition to campus housing), coordinating supports for employment and campus inclusion (e.g., support campus employers, coordinate job coaching supports, facilitate inclusion into campus housing), maintaining internal and external partnerships (e.g., facilitating the monthly CCS Employment team meetings with employment partners, collaborate with campus partners), and supporting the CCS team to implement the program (e.g., program admissions, on-boarding new students, assisting with planned events with students and families, program evaluation tasks). This position is currently grant funded through 2020. We are optimistic that there will be continued funding for this position after the grant ends.

Here is a link to the position announcement and application:

https://jobs.hrc.pdx.edu/postings/27765

Other colleges in Oregon are also moving toward creating more inclusive college and employment programs across the state. For the right individual, this is a unique opportunity to  be a part of ground breaking work.

After reading the position announcement, contact Susan Bert, Co-Director of Career & Community if you have with questions about the position berts@pdx.edu.

Photo Credit: PSU

 

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