$2.4M Grant to benefit Texas high school students with disabilities
For students with disabilities, real-life work experience is key in preparing them for employment after leaving high school. Although this is well-known, there has been a lack of specific funding to address it — until now.
The Texas Workforce Commission recently awarded $2.4 million to Dr. Dan Zhang, professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, to implement work-based learning programs in selected high schools.
“Thanks to the Texas Workforce Commission, we have a great opportunity in the next six years to help prepare youth with disabilities for employment while they are still in high school,” Zhang said.
The six-year grant, ultimately amounting to $7.3 million in funding, will help schools offer in-school or after school programs and experiences outside the traditional school setting.
Zhang will soon take applications from schools to participate. 25 programs per year will receive funding for up to one year.
Zhang said the ability to obtain and maintain employment is an important predictor of physical and mental health and quality of life. Individuals with disabilities are typically at risk of unemployment and underemployment, often due to the lack of employment-related skills and experiences during high school.
“Receiving work-based learning opportunities can fill in the void,” Zhang said. “Employment has positive impacts on social interactions, living arrangements, self-perspectives and self-esteem, economic safety and productivity.”
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