Bank of America Making A Difference for Students with Disabilities Entering the Workforce

Published in In the News

Bank of America (BOA) has provided ServiceSource Delaware (SSDE) funding to underwrite a paid internship program that is expected to increase the graduation employment rate for students with a disability enrolled in the SSDE FrameWORK for Success program. Up to 12 weeks of paid, community-based work experience will be provided for 20 FrameWORK students, including 10 students in their final year of high school. It is projected that 9 of these 10 students will secure employment by the time they graduate.

A Success Story in the Making

Through the BOA funding, FrameWORK student Sariah Shipley interned for 5 weeks at A Mothers Touch Early Learning Center before accepting a substitute instructor position at the daycare. She will become a full-time teacher there once she passes on-line certification classes offered by the University of Delaware, which she currently is completing with assistance from FrameWORK staff. When asked about what it meant to her to be paid during her internship, Sariah commented, “The fact that I was being paid made me appreciate the confidence they put in my ability to be good at this job. It made me work hard to prove they were right. And it makes me continue to work even harder to reach my goal of being a good and caring teacher.”

How the FrameWORK for Success Program Runs

Students over 18 years of age from participating school districts enroll in the FrameWORK program in place of attending school and remain in the program from two to four years until they

Sariah on the job

complete their educational requirements. The average annual enrollment is 25 students, with 5 to 10 new students joining each year, and a similar number completing. The program functions on the premise that the most impactful learning experience for students is gained through short-term work assessments at job sites in the community.

According to SSDE Director of Employment Services Cindy Sterling, “Through these work experiences students practice the employment-related skills they are learning. On the job, they

receive immediate feedback on work performance and experience positive feedback for a job well done. Of key importance, these experiences also serve to identify the particular workplace supports that a student with a disability may require once on the job. Students engaged in this type of learning are two to three times more likely to be employed after high school.”

The data also suggests that students who participate in paid community work experiences achieve even better resul ts in securing and retaining employment. Sterling added, “By being in a position to offset the payroll expense for these student-interns the nearly 60 community partners, with which SSDE already works and other local businesses, will be more encouraged to consider FrameWORK candidates for job openings.”

Work-based learning has been shown to improve students’ self-esteem, to promote an understanding of workplace culture and expectations, and to develop a network for advancement on the job or in future job searches. For more information about the SSDE FrameWORK for Success Program, contact Cindy Sterling at 302-765-1232.

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