AJ Drexel Autism Institute collaborates with Community College of Philadelphia to expand transition program
April 15, 2021
Transition Pathways is excited to be collaborating with Community College of Philadelphia to expand and enhance, school-to-work transition program, Project Career Launch (PCL). Project Career Launch is a one-year program that prepares young adults on the autism spectrum and with similar disabilities from the School District of Philadelphia for employment by taking learning out of the classroom and into the community. Participants engage in self-discovery and career exploration through career-focused instruction and internships. Upon program completion students have an identified career path and are connected to employment or further education. Research shows that over 1/3 of young adults on the autism spectrum are disconnected from education or employment activities after high school (Roux et al. 2015). Initiatives like Project Career Launch, aim to change this by connecting people to meaningful inclusive full-time employment.
After a successful pilot on Drexel University’s campus in 2019, we decided to expand Project Career Launch. Last year, we partnered with representatives from Community College of Philadelphia to collaborate on the program, doubling the number of participants. Now more young adults on the autism spectrum are gaining access to college and are successfully connected to meaningful employment upon leaving high school.
Although, due to COVID-19, the initiative looks different than how we imagined, we have successfully been able to virtually problem solve every step of the way. We are dedicated to meeting students' needs despite the challenges of last year. The Community College of Philadelphia facilitates a peer mentoring program - connecting CCP students with Project Career Launch participants. During the weekly sessions, mentors provide socialization and share personal experiences of their own jobs and college coursework. In addition to peer mentorship, several Project Career Launch students have been able to take advantage of CCP’s dual enrollment program – in which a student who is still enrolled in high school may earn college credits (at CCP) at no cost to them. Without this collaboration and some additional supports, the route to accessing credit courses would be difficult to navigate.
Through the power of partnership and creative programming during the pandemic, Project Career Launch provides a career focused instruction beyond the classroom for young adults from the School District of Philadelphia. As one parent of a Project Career Launch student commented, “This program gives children with autism a chance to flourish, to be more independent, and to branch out.”
Transition Pathways looks forward to our growing partnership with CCP to create innovative opportunities for young adults on the autism spectrum to reach their full potential and launch their careers.