New Area Program Provides Skills for Students with Disabilities 

Pittsburgh, May 11, 2022 — Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania and Butler Tech have teamed up to bring Project LIFE to southwestern PA. Project LIFE provides students with developmental disabilities the opportunity to learn and strengthen skills that are high predictors of greater adult independence leading to a future of integrated employment in their community. 

Project LIFE is a comprehensive, multi-year transition-to-adulthood program in which individuals (ages 16+) with disabilities can develop, practice, and strengthen skills that are high predictors for increased adult independence and successful, integrated community employment. Project LIFE was developed by Butler Tech in 2007 and is now impacting lives nationwide. Butler Tech has been providing services in individuals in southwest Ohio since 1975.

“Goodwill is extremely pleased to work with Butler Tech to bring the Project LIFE program to the Pittsburgh area,” said Rebekah Fombelle, Vice President of Human Services for Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “For nearly 25 years, Goodwill has been providing skills to help students with disabilities transition from school into post-school life, and we are pleased to engage in this wonderful partnership to bring this program with demonstrated results to area students who need it.”

Project LIFE offers a targeted course of study in combination with participation in experiential life skills education and authentic work-based learning experiences in the local community. Courses of study in Project LIFE include Team Building, Work Place Safety, Social Skills and Communication, Personal Financial Literacy, Technology, Preparing for Employment, Maintaining Employment and Independent Living.

A typical day at Project LIFE includes classroom learning activities focused on the course of study topics and 2-3 hours of work-based learning experiences under the supervision of a qualified Instructor or Job Skills Trainer. Individual goals are also addressed based upon the needs of each student. It is recommended that individual goals be prioritized to focus on the specific transition-to-adulthood needs of the student intern in order to increase the likelihood of growth and mastery toward their future adult plans.

“Butler Tech is excited to partner with Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania to launch the Project LIFE program in the Pittsburgh area. Students from area school districts who participate in Project LIFE are being offered the opportunity to gain the skills needed for future employment and a more independent future. We congratulate Goodwill for their dedication to utilizing best-practice programming to meet the needs of youth with disabilities in the community,” said Reena Fish, Project LIFE Replication Coordinator at Butler Tech.

Project LIFE believes that all individuals, regardless of ability, will grow in independence when expectations for learning are raised. Job skills are assessed based on employer standards and expectations. Weekly job skill reports will provide data focused on individual progress and this data helps students consider jobs they want for the future while providing them an understanding of accommodations they may need for future employment. 

Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s replication of the Project Life program was made possible, in part, by funding received by The Friends of Butler Tech Foundation from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, a non-profit foundation jointly funded by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation of Japan and its US affiliates, working to make changes for the better by empowering youth with disabilities to lead productive lives.

For more information about Project LIFE visit: www.goodwillswpa.org/project-life.

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