I Generate Rural Opportunities for Work
iGROW Project ABOUT
The “I Generate Rural Opportunities for Work” (iGROW) Project is a one-year pre-employment and leadership-training program for up to 20 students with disabilities who are currently enrolled in middle school and high school (ages 14-22). The purpose of the program is to provide a training environment to support students with disabilities to gain the necessary skills and experiences in work readiness in order to successfully transition into postsecondary education and/or competitive integrated employment.
The program focuses primarily on four of the five core Pre-ETS areas, which include:
- Counseling in post-secondary educational programs or college level courses
- Job Exploration Counseling
- Workplace Readiness training to develop social skills and independent living
- Instruction in self-advocacy
Students will be taught lessons from the evidence-based Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST) curriculum, participate in person-centered planning with a goal of employment, learn from local business owners and employers, and be introduced to postsecondary education and work opportunities. Each student will apply for participation in one of the youth leadership and pre-employment summer programs on the Texas A&M University campus or summer earn and learn (SEAL) opportunities in their county. Parent and community training will be offered as well as opportunities for transition-related agencies and organizations to share information with the community.
The intent is to provide students with disabilities pre-employment training and workplace readiness activities that will support students with disabilities within the rural area with pre-employment skills. In addition, the iGROW project will serve as a demonstration and model of pre-employment training for rural areas that can lead to change while advancing pre-employment training for rural youth at the state level. The first cohort will be in Lee County, Texas. The Center on Disability and Development at Texas A&M University has partnered with local schools, families, businesses, and the Texas Workforce Commission.