The cost of programming per student is $6,500. The cost to fund one full 12-week session at our current scale (i.e. one site with two teachers) is $39,000.
The Next Move Program first started in 2010 at large biotech company in downtown Richmond. An executive at the company had a child with special needs. From his personal experience and his family’s struggles, he knew that this population – and his son – had limited access to vocational training. A partnership was formed with Henrico County Public Schools. In the fall of that year, the first group of students participated in a supported internship program.
Prior to the arrival of these interns, the same tasks that they took on were previously completed by temporary workers. With temps, the business experienced frequent and expensive high turnover rates and high error rates; all of these issues were eliminated once the interns began work. The company was also surprised by the interns' positive impact on its culture. The interns were motivated and always smiling, which inspired the best work from the employees.
In 2012, job offers were given to 12 of the most productive workers. The internship program was disbanded, as the training positions were all filled. By demand of the staff, the leadership agreed to bring the program back, hiring two special educators to coordinate the internship.
In 2013, Elizabeth Howley and Mary Townley, special educators hired from a local school system, were brought in to run programming and provide ongoing supports to the former interns who were hired. Elizabeth and Mary opened participation to all of the major school systems in the Greater Richmond Area. They expanded the program to include additional teams, so that interns could be placed individually into departments and have the best opportunity to gain independence. Elizabeth and Mary also added a curriculum component. They knew that vocational training would help their students gain employment, but education would help them keep employment. Students participated in daily instruction in work safety, work preparation, social skills, and life skills.
In the Spring of 2015, the biotech company was sold and operations were relocated to another state. Elizabeth and Mary spun programming off as a separate non-profit; The Next Move Program became a 501 (c)(3) organization in the fall of 2015.
The Next Move Program is a non-profit that partners with businesses, organizations, and school systems to create guided internship experiences for young adults with special needs.
The need for work preparation and training is tremendous for young adults with special needs. The majority of this population graduate from high school and have little to no work experience, as well as little to no work readiness education. Almost 22,000 high school students graduate each year in our state from this population. When the Department of Education surveys this group one year out from graduation, as many as 70% are doing nothing. They are sitting at home.
What we know to be true is that work is more than just having a place to clock in and out from 9 to 5 each day. Work gives us confidence, independence, and makes us feel needed – as a contributing part of a team. When these young people do not have this opportunity, they become disconnected, depressed, isolated and withdrawn. Their families feel overburdened both emotionally and financially. There is a very real sense of fear. What happen to my child when I pass away? Will my child be okay when I am gone?
By partnering with businesses and schools, The Next Move Program can give these individuals hope. All young people, regardless of special needs, have value and can successfully contribute to the community if given the appropriate supports.
The result is a transformative experience for all. 80% of our graduates have gained employment or acceptance to post-secondary programming – a huge improvement over the baseline of 30%.
Your support is greatly appreciated. Together, we can give all young people—regardless of a disability—hope for the future.
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Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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