A Big Thank You to the Ivymount School

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.

Jason Cutler

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:

  • Richard Fuentes, 22, worked at DAI in the spring of 2012. He went on to secure internships at the Smithsonian National Zoo and ManTech International Corp. He has since been hired as a building service worker at the National Air and Space Museum.
  • Donnell Banks, 20, interned at DAI during the summer of 2013 and is currently participating in Ivymount’s Project SEARCH–Smithsonian, an immersion program at Smithsonian museums.
  • Jasmine Gray, 20, worked at DAI earlier this year. She now holds a paid internship at ManTech International, where she stocks kitchen supplies, files paperwork, and does mass mailings.
  • Celestine Coleman, 19, is in her second year in the School-to-Work Program. She has been working at DAI since the summer while also holding an internship at Old Navy, where she is working on her customer service and organizational skills.
  • Jason Cutler, 21, will graduate from the School-to-Work Program in June 2015. He began his work experience at DAI in the fall. Jason is also currently working at the Brookside Gardens Nature Center and has had previous work experiences at Locust Grove Nature Center, American Reprographics, Emeritus, and Joe’s Crab Shack Restaurant.

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.”

Celestine Coleman

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