$10 million pilot program to help SC post-grad students with disabilities

Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 5:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2023 at 7:48 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina is one of several states to benefit from a nearly $200 million grant that will improve career opportunities for students with disabilities.

The United States Department of Education announced Sept. 15 that it will allocate $199 million toward improving career opportunities for students with disabilities nationwide.

The Palmetto State is one of 20 participating states and is set to receive $10 million from the grant, according to the South Carolina Department of Education.

This is a portion of the national Pathways to Partnerships project, which focuses on self-sufficiency for young disabled communities as they enter their post-grad seasons.

It provides a way for those unable to receive a traditional high school diploma, often a requirement for a post-grad job, to be successful the way they always dreamt of.

“Over 60% of students in SC have a disability, that is just a learning disability, not a physical disability,” South Carolina Department of Education Representative Derek Phillips said. “So when they leave our schools and are not able to earn a high school diploma, this is obviously an issue that they are not able to go into the workforce since they don’t have the proper credentials.”

This will be a five-year-long pilot program involving five public school districts, including Williamsburg County.

It will also include several state agencies and nonprofits.

Local nonprofit AccessAbility says this opportunity is a long time coming.

“Everyone in America wants the same opportunity,” Executive Director Julia Martinelli said. “But if you’re shut out from the opportunity, if you can’t get in the building, if you can’t get into the doctor’s office, you don’t get that opportunity.”

The nonprofit is centrally focused on building confidence and advocacy for independent living.

“We try to embrace opportunities where there’s deficits. Certainly, students in school were not having the opportunity to see people like themselves doing things that were possible for them,” Martinelli said.

The program will encourage better, more open opportunities for students and organizations to learn about independent living and accommodating communities.

“How do you prepare for that? We teach them things about behavior on the job, what the employer is expecting. We participate with employers, we do employer training. We teach employers the importance of hiring people with disabilities,” Martinelli said.

For more information on the grant, click here.