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CAPE Supports Designing Inclusive Talent Pipeline Efforts for Youth with Disabilities


I am always looking for inspirational brief statements or data points that creates a shared understanding about the value and need to invest in personalized career and academic plan (PCAP) efforts. I refer to them as “the phrase that pays.” When we referred to PCAPs as individualized learning plans, an early “phase that paid” was “All means all.” This phrase refers to both all educators being engaged in facilitating PCAP lessons as well as full inclusion of students receiving the lessons. Full inclusion meant advisory or small classrooms of students with and without disabilities as well as EL students.

Another “phrase that pays” moment occurred in 2018, when I had the privilege of presenting on personalized career and academic plans as part of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) session featuring state leaders from Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, and Wisconsin. The event was titled “Building Inclusive Talent Pipelines For People With Disabilities.” In describing their company efforts to implement Project SEARCH, then Andis Manufacturing Vice President of Operations, Tom George, said in reference to designing customized employment opportunities for young adults with disabilties that:

“We never approached them as individuals with special needs but as individuals with special talents.” As engineers, their felt their role was to design job opportunities that aligned with their talent as well as with the needs of their organization. After Project Search ended, they hired all five of their young adults.

Recently, Assistant Secretary of Labor, Taryn Williams participated on a policy forum sponsored by Boston University’s Wheelock College of Education and Human Development in collaboration with the Coalition for Career Development Center. AS Williams reminded us that the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) has a relatively new center - CAPE - to support the development of transition supports that enable individuals with special talents to successfully transition into the world of work.

CAPE stands for Center for Advancing Policy on Employment for Youth. CAPE strives to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabiltiies by bulding capacity within states to create the partnerships and coordination needed to build talent development pipelines.

I have had the pleasure of collaborating with members Kim Osmani of the CAPE Team from the Yang Tan Institute on Employment and Disabilty at Cornell University. Yang Tan Institute is also where the late Tom P. Golden served as Executive Director. I treasure the very short time I had with Tom who remains a giant in the area of advocacy and evidence-based practice efforts that support individuals with disabilities.


The CCD Center is an industry-led non-profit, non-partisan organization focused on making career readiness the number one education priority in America.

The BU Center for Future Readiness is internationally and nationally recognized for supporting the design, implementation, and evaluation of equitable and responsive career readiness programs and services.

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