Onondaga Community College, Syracuse University and Syracuse City School District to Prepare People with Disabilities for Skilled Career

December 17, 2014

OCC News Release SU News Release

SU News Release

SYRACUSE, N.Y., December 16, 2014 – Onondaga Community College (OCC), Syracuse University (SU), the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), the public workforce system and regional economic development and disability service agents are partnering with employers in high growth industries to prepare youths and young adults with disabilities for skilled careers. The Onondaga Pathways to Careers (OPC) Project is funded by a five year cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). OCC received $1,028,869 in funding for the first year of the cooperative agreement.

The OPC will connect secondary education, the vocational rehabilitation and workforce investment systems, OCC, Central New York (CNY) high growth industries, and Syracuse University to create an integrated, longitudinal pathway to effectively facilitate transition for youths and young adults with disabilities (ages 14-24) into highly-sought technical training in targeted high growth industries, and/or a four-year degree and career advancement. OPC presents a complete re-envisioning of the individualized education program (IEP) transition process. Rather than students with disabilities merely graduating to work in minimum wage jobs, programs and services will be set in place, aligned with OPC educational pathways, to accelerate their entry into post-secondary training and high growth industry jobs paying living wages.

The project will focus on four priority high growth industries identified by the CNY Regional Economic Development Council (REDC): Advanced Manufacturing, Health Information Technology, Computer Information Systems and Electrical Technology. OPC will provide comprehensive support to this population along a pathway with multiple entry points, to skilled living-wage employment.

OPC is driven by five central goals:

  • Capacity-building to develop and implement a well-coordinated, comprehensive, sustainable student- & employer-centered system of support that promotes access, success, and career entry for individuals with disabilities.
  • Career Exploration & Educational Access to increase access and enrollment among youth and young adults with disabilities in career and technical programs aligned with high growth industries and occupations.
  • Educational Attainment to increase the persistence and completion rates of students with disabilities who are enrolled in post-secondary credentials aligned with high growth industries and occupations.
  • Employment to increase living-wage employment among young adults with disabilities.
  • Dissemination to enable community colleges across New York State to adopt the OPC model to increase enrollment, training completion, and career entry in high growth fields among young adults with disabilities.

The OPC project aims to graduate half (60 to 70 students) of the cohort from a two-year, credentialed OPC Pathway by May 2016, and approximately that number each subsequent year. Three months after graduation OPC anticipates 30% of graduates will be employed at a living wage in a CNY growth industry or have enrolled in a 4-year college. At six months, 63% of graduates; and at one year 90% of graduates.

"We are thrilled to work with our partners in education, workforce and the community on this project which will enhance the lives of people with disabilities who have so much to contribute to all of Central New York. We thank the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy for its belief in our plan and our ability to work together and execute it," said Dr. Casey Crabill, OCC President.

"This grant is one of just two awarded by the Department of Labor nationwide, and I am glad Syracuse is a part of such a great initiative" said Chancellor Kent Syverud of Syracuse University. "I look forward to the University partnering with OCC and the community to achieve positive outcomes for students with disabilities and create a model program nationally."

About OCC and SU

Onondaga Community College is Central New York’s second largest undergraduate college with more than 12,000 students. OCC is a two-year college operating under the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and is locally sponsored by Onondaga County. Located on a bustling 280-acre campus atop Onondaga Hill, the community’s college remains dedicated to serving the needs of students in ways that help them to explore, discover, and transform. OCC offers nearly 50 programs of study, bachelor and master’s degrees available on campus through a regional higher education center, and nearly 40 transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities.  A 2013 report on "The Economic Contributions of Onondaga Community College” shows student enjoy an attractive 14.4% rate of return on their educational investment and recover all costs in 11 years, while state and local governments see an annual rate of return of 7.8% on their support for OCC. The College is home to the eight-time NJCAA national champion men’s lacrosse team and the two-time NJCAA national champion women’s lacrosse team. The men’s team won its sixth consecutive national title in 2014. The women last won the national title in 2012. The Lazers have also earned national titles in men’s tennis and men’s basketball. OCC has fifteen intercollegiate men’s and women’s athletic teams. Follow Lazer athletics at www.onondagalazers.com. Follow alumni events at www.alumni.sunyocc.edu.

Chartered in 1870, Syracuse University is a private, co-educational, urban university dedicated to advancing knowledge and fostering student success through rigorous scholarship and transformative research. SU has a long legacy of excellence in the liberal arts and professional disciplines that prepares students to achieve personal and professional success and make a difference in the world. SU offers a rich mix of academic programs, alumni activities, and immersion opportunities in numerous centers in the U.S. and around the globe, including major hubs in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. For more information visit syr.edu.