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Bridging Students from School to Work

Posted by Joni Wong on December 28, 2018

Goodwill and its Workforce Development programs strive to maximize not only skill building but also community partnerships to support students in transition. High School students today are faced with endless options for applying their interests and education. Sometimes students can easily navigate these next steps, and other times it's overwhelming and daunting to know where their journey will continue. Goodwill and its Workforce Development programs strive to maximize not only skill building but also community partnerships to support students in transition. It’s evident that leveraging connections can lead students on a path toward success.

Take for example local high school senior Chase*. Ever since Chase was a boy, he could visualize himself working in a busy restaurant, minding a hot grill while sautéing seasonal vegetables. He would share his dreams with his school’s Transition Coordinator, Michael, who remembered that Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin had a culinary training program.

Michael is the district transition coordinator who has over 40 students with disabilities on his case load, but said that Chase is a very special individual whom he has really grown to care about over the years. Chase periodically stops into Michael’s office with containers of last night’s dinner. Michael shared that the food is amazing and that he senses real talent in Chase.

When Michael reached out to Leslie Jaimes, Goodwill Recruitment Specialist, she offered to meet with both Michael and Chase to discuss the culinary program in more detail. Chase wanted to know more about the hours and pay, while Michael was interested in learning more about on-site accommodations in case Chase was struggling with comprehension.

The importance of the relationship between Goodwill and area transition coordinators cannot be understated. High school transition coordinators are the bridge between life after high school and competitive community employment for many students who engage with Goodwill. They help students navigate through all the resources and sometimes even act as parental support when students, such as Chase who lives in a group home, have difficulty understanding these resources independently.

Goodwill’s Workforce Development teams strive to maintain strong communication and relationships with school staff such as Michael to reach students with the programs that make sense for supporting their future. Perhaps it’s the culinary training program. Maybe a benefits analysis meeting or financial education coaching session with a Goodwill team member will help a student better understand what type of community employment will make sense for him or her. Or it might be a connection to a part-time job opportunity in a local ecommerce facility that is the perfect fit. Whatever it is, Goodwill realizes that it is a collective effort that goes beyond the core subjects of a high school education that help students find their way to a successful future.

*names have been changed

Written by Joni Wong

Mission Support Center
Tel: (414) 847-4200

James O. Wright Center forWork & Training
Tel: (414) 353-6400

Metropolitan Chicago -
Tel: (312) 994-1440