WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- College Living Experience (CLE), a national organization founded to help students with special learning needs achieve post-secondary education and independent-living skills, today announced that over the two-year academic period from 2011 to 2013, students participating in the CLE Career Development Program has increased 27% from 45 to 57 students. An equal number of local businesses in Austin, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Denver, Colorado; Monterey, California; and Rockville, Maryland currently offer CLE students work experience in industries that include animal services and zoos, health services, museums, public libraries, hospitality, arts and theater, non-profits, and retail, just to highlight a few.
The CLE Career Development Program helps students with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger's syndrome, non-verbal learning disorders and other learning disabilities pursue experience related to employment. College Living Experience teaches students the full range of skills necessary to search, apply and interview for a position, including how to develop a cover letter and resume, how to network to identify job opportunities, and how to interview with a prospective employer. While pursuing post-secondary education through CLE, students can consider volunteer placement, job shadowing, or internships that can potentially lead to part-time and full-time employment.
Stephanie Martin, president of CLE, commented, "People with disabilities represent the largest untapped labor pool in the U.S. Our primary goal at with the CLE Career Development Program is to help students acquire valuable work skills while gaining confidence in the work environment. We also aim to educate businesses on the benefits of hiring people with disabilities and the significant contributions these employees can make for the company. We are delighted to see so many of our students and local businesses working together to learn from each other."
Dawson's Market, a locally focused, independent natural foods market in Rockville, Maryland, looks for opportunities to partner with and support community organizations. "CLE students are truly no different than any other employee, and they are held to the same standards and expectations," said Michael Houston, assistant store manager at Dawson's. "It's nice to be able to provide that type of atmosphere for the students and help them learn job expectations, not only here, but wherever they might go after Dawson's."
CLE offers support to businesses who participate in the CLE Career Development Program. For businesses unfamiliar with working with employees with disabilities, hiring managers can learn about disability types, ADA, reasonable and easy accommodations for the disabled, and strategies for working with individual employees. Ms. Martin continued, "The return on this investment in people can be hugely rewarding for business owners. They gain access to a highly motivated workforce who care tremendously about their work product, and customers often give their loyalty and support to companies who employ people with disabilities."
As Jason Stover, co-chairman of Service Systems Associates' (SSA) Diversity and Inclusion Board in Denver, Colorado, stated, "We made a full commitment to making sure our workforce is a true reflection of our society. We realized that our team's diversity goes far beyond race, gender, and ethnicity. It's all about including unique perspectives and experiences in hope that we all learn and grow from each other. CLE students definitely bring that to the table." Mr. Stover concluded, "It's been a pleasure watching them [CLE students] grow and develop into more capable professionals."
Talking about the career development program, CLE-Denver student Abigail Fazendin, who worked at the Denver Zoo over the summer, said, "Career development has allowed me to explore various work opportunities, and I have learned that I want to be in a job that gives back to the community." The work experience gained while at CLE has also had an impact on her personal growth: "I am more mature and responsible. I take pride in the job I do and work hard. I also feel like I am more of an independent young adult."
Madeline Denham, a CLE-Denver student attending The Community College of Denver, completed the Summer Youth Employment Program, a work-experience program sponsored by the Office of Economic Development of Denver County for youth aged 16 to 21. "The career development service at CLE has been a great support for me. My career advisor helped me with filling out paperwork, applying for jobs and interviewing. CLE also helped me navigate and find a job at the job fair. I leaned on my CLE staff to gain courage to ask for more hours and more challenging work." Through her work experience and the support from CLE-Denver, Madeline recently accepted a job offer as office assistant at Arts Street.
Arts Street is a not-for-profit in Denver that works with low-income and under-served youth to develop their creative talents and help them become part of a competent workforce, and the organization included CLE students in their 2013 June and July summer program. "It was a very worthwhile experience working with CLE students,' said Tony Diego, and added, "The CLE youth were a huge asset to our project and program in many ways. Some of them became leaders, offered life experiences that the other youth did not have, and generally presented a more mature perspective."
About College Living Experience
College Living Experience (CLE) provides post-secondary support to students with autism, Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, and other exceptionalities contributing to special-needs learning. CLE develops an individualized support program tailored around the unique learning challenges of each student. Founded in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, CLE now provides support and services covering academics, independent living, social skills, and career development in five additional metropolitan areas across the United States serving over 250 students every year. Each CLE location in Austin, Texas; Costa Mesa, California; Denver, Colorado; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Monterey, California; and Washington, DC offers these pillars of support while students attend the higher education program of choice, including local community colleges, vocational schools, and universities. The evolution and innovation of CLE is defined by the organization's mission to reach beyond the boundaries of traditional support systems to provide new opportunities to families and students with special learning needs. For more information about CLE visit http://experiencecle.com.
SOURCE College Living Experience (CLE)