The Hearst Foundations grant to empower young adults with disabilities after high school graduation
October 2, 2017
The Hearst Foundations have granted Ability Beyond $75,000 to empower special education students during the transition from high school to employment, helping them achieve independent adult lives and competitive employment within communities of their choice. The funding will support unemployment intervention programs for recent high school graduates; educational workshops and resources for families; and hands-on job training for young men and women with disabilities.
“Ability Beyond is honored to receive this generous grant investment, which provides the opportunity to change lives from the moment high school ends,” said Jane Davis, president of Ability Beyond. “Far too many young adults fall off ‘the cliff’ after graduation, because special education is discontinued and families lack the preparation to navigate the next chapter of their children’s lives. This can lead to a lifetime of social and economic marginalization. With funding from The Hearst Foundations, Ability Beyond will prepare families for this pivotal transition, and will empower young adults through information.”
Ability Beyond provides a wide range of school-to-community transition services for young adults with disabilities. In 2015 the agency redoubled its efforts through an unprecedented partnership with the University of Wisconsin Waisman Center; the result has been specialized curricula for parents and high school students to fill well-researched gaps in preparation for the world after graduation. Today the agency provides transition services in New Haven, Fairfield, and Hartford Counties in Connecticut; and Putnam County in New York.
Just one in five working-age Americans with a disability participates in the labor force, and among those who do, 8.4 percent were unemployed in August 2017—almost twice the national average for people without disabilities. For many people, we know this traces back to their first years out of school, when they failed to connect in a timely fashion to appropriate resources and enrolled instead for social services.
In 2012, the United States Government Accountability Office adequately captured the sentiment at hand in a report for the House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce: “When young adults with disabilities do not successfully transition out of high school, they may face a lifetime of continued reliance on public assistance, potentially leading to substantial costs to the government and society.”