November 25, 2014
Opening the pantries in the kitchens of DAI, employees have their pick of teas and coffees. Cups are always well stocked and organized. And cutlery is never in short supply. This is no accident—four students and their job coaches come to DAI’s Bethesda, Maryland, office twice a week for several hours to help stock the kitchens as part of a school-to-work job training program organized by the Ivymount School, a Washington, D.C., organization for young people with special needs.
Ivymount’s Post High School Program is a community-focused life skills program that prepares students ages 18–21 for the transition from school to employment and adult life. Ivymount students in the multiple learning needs and autism programs work at more than 30 job sites, where they get opportunities to acquire and use life skills in practical ways.
DAI joined the program in 2011, thanks to a connection made by an Ivymount teacher and DAI’s Training Manager, Andy Clark, during a game organized by the DAInamos, the company soccer team.
Many of the Ivymount students who have worked at DAI over the years have gone on to hold jobs across the Washington metro area. We highlight just a few below:
Robert Bender, DAI’s Senior Facilities Manager in Bethesda, has seen Ivymount’s impact firsthand. “Participation with the Ivymount program has been a wonderful experience for us at DAI,” he says. “So far, 20 students have worked here. We’ve had the opportunity to watch these students grow and develop as they learn valuable work skills they can build on in the future. Each year at graduation it is bittersweet to wish these young people well as they move on into adulthood, but we know we’ll meet another group of eager, talented students the next year. Thanks to Ivymount for bringing us together.”