The Arc of Oregon has received grant funding to implement a new project to assure the successful transition for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities from school to competitive community employment. PROJECT EMPLOY targets youth (16-21 years) with intellectual and developmental disabilities that have been typically labeled as “unemployable” and referred to community inclusion programs rather than being considered for competitive employment.  PROJECT EMPLOY will provide training for these students’ families, school personnel, and community professionals to bridge transition from school to community employment.  Support teams will receive training and technical assistance in the following areas:

  • Person-Centered Planning and how to apply this to Individual Education Plans (schools), Individual Support Plans (DD services), and Individual Plans for Employment (OVRS).
  • Developing and implementing effective school and community supports that lead to post high school employment.
  • Peer mentoring of effective advocacy strategies that support self-determination.

As a region with a mix of urban and rural that provides opportunities for learning, Washington County has been selected for the initial year of this 3-year project.  In subsequent years, PROJECT EMPLOY will expand to two other regions of the state.  We are currently seeking interested Washington County school districts that wish to learn with us and are willing to commit staff resources. Participating school personnel would be expected to attend an initial meeting (late August / early September), a one-day training with other professionals on Statewide In-service Day (October), six hours of training with participating students/families (November), and monthly Project meetings (December-June). In lieu of an April meeting, Project Employ will sponsor an Employment Resource Fair where students can learn about summer internships and schools will have the opportunity to share information about their programs. Teams will have access to additional technical assistance as needed and will be expected to provide data on students’ progress.

By supporting and mentoring all members of the students’ teams, the expectation is that by age 21, students will be employed in community jobs. For ages 16-20, it is expected that students will participate in appropriate vocational activities and work experiences during the school year and in jobs or paid internships during the summers.

Please join us in supporting students’ transitions to work.  If interested, please contact Tara Asai, The Arc of Oregon: or at (503) 706-3273.