Do community collaborations between schools really work?

By: Kelly Elton

Community collaborations are a key factor in the success of many schools ability to provide evidenced based training to youth with disabilities transitioning to adult life. Venture Bound highlights the ability to provide support to local schools implementing the Ohio, Employment First, Evidence Based Predictors for Post School Success. Collaboration is one of the eight predictors to a student’s success. Using the outcomes from the outcomes their NW Ohio needs assessment Avenues for Autism (formerly Great Lakes Collaborative for Autism) created a community collaborative transition program, Venture Bound. The Venture Bound leadership specifically sought out Advisory Board members from specific fields to enhance the collaboration opportunities for the students. Through these collaborations, the Venture Bound curriculum was developed. Further collaborations allowed the teachers to focus on students while professionals spearheaded opportunities outside of class, like the Mock Job fair, establishing Work Based Learning sites and scheduling Career Explorations.

Venture Bound has expanded form supporting local schools to supporting young adults in an Adult day program searching for employment. First the first two years, Avenues for Autism’s board committed to funding the entire endeavor. Now, using partial funding from schools, the Avenues for Autism board continues to seek funding for approximately 90% of Venture Bound’s budgeted expenses. This on-going support has enabled Venture Bound to expand and grow from supporting six students in the 2016-2017 school year to well over 30 students and 17 adults in the 2019-2020 school year. Does collaboration work? Yes! Engagement with local nonprofit advocacy agencies is a critical component to the success. Each entity in the collaboration brings knowledge to the table to create answers and employ potential!