PROJECT NAME: Youth to Work Coalition (YWC)
FUNDING SOURCE: The Youth to Work Coalition (YWC) evolved from the 2003 Federal Agency/Foundation Initiative, a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF).
YWC brings together foundation executives and senior government officials from agencies that fund programs for youth with disabilities to explore linkages aimed at improving quality of life and employment outcomes for students with disabilities. Initiative participants identified four main areas of need, one of which was to increase internships and mentoring opportunities for youth with disabilities. The need is great — a recently released National Longitudinal Transition Study found that only two percent of students receiving special education services take part in work-based learning experiences such as mentoring or internships.
A number of representatives from foundations, business, and government created the Youth to Work Coalition to make the business case for companies to institute model programs that would engage students with disabilities and lead to meaningful employment and career development. The YWC also aims to connect and strengthen public and private sector programs supporting internships, mentoring, and school-towork transition.
Toward these goals, the YWC will seek to partner with business associations, nonprofits serving youth, academic institutions, student associations and national disability groups. Founding members of the YWC include IBM, Microsoft, Cingular Wireless, McDonald’s Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, Disability Funders Network, EIN SOF Communications, Abilities Inc., and officials of the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor and Defense.