Champions of Inclusion! March 28, 2019 – Posted in: Inspiration

We are all Champions. Since 2006, King County’s School-to-Work (S2W) program has provided resources and support to AtWork!, and other providers, to provide transition services to over 1400 students…

of which, over 800 graduated with a good job. The unique, nationally recognized program blends the resources of King County, Washington State’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation– and in Bellevue, the Bellevue School District– so that students get services and expertise of community providers while still in school.

Prior to S2W, King County’s employment rates for students exiting high school transition programs were 7.7% in 2003, 14.6% in 2004, and 14.3% in 2005. According to the National Core Indicators Project, just 4% of youth supported by state I/DD agencies aged 18-21 were employed in individual integrated jobs and only 9% of those ages 22-30.

In the past 13 years, students participating in King County S2W have averaged a nearly 60% job placement rate by December of the year they exit high school transition programs. AtWork! found jobs for 78% of students graduating from the Bellevue S2W Program last year. In 2019, seven students already have jobs, including exciting new opportunities at Salesforce. The employment rate of all S2W students ever served through AtWork!’s Mission Services (dating back to 2006) is 75%. Last year, our overall placement rate was 86%!

King County S2W program now proudly serves nearly twice as many students as it did in early years. AtWork!’s growth has kept pace with the overall program growth. Recognizing the need locally and across the state, we proudly expanded our services to Spokane in 2017. The great majority are considered to have medium to high support needs and providers have maintained outcomes through this growth in an ever-challenging environment. The biggest accomplishment, which cannot really be measured, is changing hearts and minds. When asked about employment, families are rarely saying, “Not my student.” We hear, “Why not my student? They want to work and will get a job.”

In 2010, AtWork! was awarded the honor of becoming the embedded provider of S2W Services in the Bellevue School District. In 2018, we served ten students in the district with an additional eight in the coming year. As the embedded vendor and primary provider of transition services, we are amazed at the level of support they provide to their students.

On Thursday, March 21st, AtWork! was honored to award the 2019 Inclusion Champion of the Year award to the Bellevue School District at our 13th Annual Fundraising Breakfast. In our almost ten years of successful partnership, we can say without a doubt that they are an extraordinary team of educators, endlessly working to ensure that all students receive equitable services and have access to all necessary resources. As a district, they are comprised of diverse voices and perspectives and are an exemplary example of Inclusion.

Watch our powerful video showcasing our transformative relationship with the Bellevue School District and other inclusive employers on our Stories & Videos Page.

(Pictured: Chris Brandt, CEO of AtWork!, Jennifer Strehle, Special Education Program Coordinator of the Bellevue School District, Connie, AtWork! Transitions Student, and Daniel Harting, Transitions Service Manager AtWork!)