Prepared for
Ingham Intermediate School District

Executive Summary

Background

MIConnections (www.miconnections.org) is a statewide initiative, currently in development, encouraging youth with disabilities to explore career ideas and prepare for the job market by gaining further education and/or training in a science, engineering, or technology-related career. The Ingham Intermediate School District (IISD) is one of three current affiliate sites. In partnership with the Ingham County Partners for Youth with Disabilities, the IISD engaged Public Sector Consultants (PSC) to conduct an environmental scan in order to ascertain where youth with disabilities are able to get further training in technology-related careers.

In February 2005, the IISD requested area organizations that provide services to youth to complete the scan questionnaire. Letters inviting participation in the scan were sent to all potential respondent organizations, which subsequently received an e-mail containing a link, password, and directions for completing the scan online. Scans were also mailed in a hard-copy format upon the request of an organization.

Of the 50 organizations invited to complete the environmental scan, 38 (76 percent) provided information about their services for youth that fall within the four design features of the MIConnections model (based on the federal High School/High Tech program categories reflecting research of proven effective practices): preparatory experiences, connecting activities, work-based experiences, and youth leadership/youth development.

Key Findings

Various activities for youth are included within the four MIConnections design features. The degree to which the organizations conduct activities within the four design features varies considerably. The summary below describes the percentage of responding organizations conducting each service activity, ranging from the most frequent to the least frequent activity in each design feature. (Note that not all organizations answered every question; thus, the number of respondents varies by activity.)

  • Preparatory Experiences: Responding organizations offer opportunity awareness (73 percent), work-readiness skills (65 percent), and career assessment (53 percent).
  • Connecting Activities: Respondents offer academic tutoring (56 percent), workforce preparation (56 percent), prevention activities (46 percent), assistive technology (44 percent), parenting services (42 percent), mentoring (34 percent), and transportation and mobility services (34 percent).
  • Work-based Experiences: Responding organizations offer paid or unpaid internships (74 percent), set up or host job shadowing (51 percent), site visits, and tours for youth (36 percent), and provide opportunities for entrepreneurship experience (20 percent).
  • Youth Leadership/Youth Development: Respondents offer programs that provide personal growth skills (74 percent), supportive adults for youth (63 percent), organizational/community leadership opportunities (69 percent), and peer mentoring (32 percent).

Age and other eligibility requirements of programs offered by scan participants vary. Programs serve young people from birth to 26 years of age, with most of the programs geared toward youth in middle or high school. Among the organizations that responded, 24 (61 percent) currently serve youth with disabilities; many—29 of the 36 organizations that responded, or 81 percent—provide some kind of accommodation for disabilities. The organizations’ service area ranges in scope from statewide to tri-county, single county, township, city, or school district. Eleven of the responding organizations require a fee for some, if not all, of the programs that they offer.

The organizations that participated in the scan were unfamiliar with MIConnections but indicated great interest in the initiative. Seventy-six percent of the organizations that responded would like to receive more information about MIConnections.

A copy of the full report is available below.

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