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What’s Going On with RAMP?

The Virginia Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) is a career-focused mentoring program for students with disabilities, aged 14-22, funded through the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). The 8 students participating in this pilot year were referred by their DARS counselor from the Fairfax DARS office and have been busy learning about what careers they are interested in and what resources are out in their communities.

To close out Phase One of the program, RAMP mentees finished their community mapping project in February. They explored and presented their own concepts, important assets, and resources within their respective communities. The final project consisted of a community college and combined to represent the communities they reside in within Fairfax County.

Everyone met at the Fairfax Bowl America to celebrate the end of Phase One. Six out of eight mentees attended the celebration, some on their own and others with a parent. Here, they were able to eat, drink, socialize, and have fun celebrating their accomplishments and enjoying time with their peers. The mentees are looking forward to future events.

We are now in Phase Two of RAMP which highlights Career Exploration, focusing on their own personal characteristics, skills, and needs when exploring different careers. Through the Pathful Explore website, mentees are learning more about their chosen career paths, workplace skills, the interviewing process, finances, and soft skills development. They continue to work on goal setting and preparing for the job application process through mock interviews and resume-building activities. The group looks forward to more worksite visits, guest speaker presentations, and opportunities for job shadowing and internships.

On February 23rd, RAMP mentees visited the Workforce Innovation Skills Hub (WISH) Center located in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn about their free training and workshops. The mentees found out that they can attend classes at the WISH Center to introduce them to and teach them about welding and woodworking as well as learn about emerging technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, drones, robotics, and fabrication & prototyping. At the Center, mentees can access certificate programs, jobs that pay $20+ per hour, skill-building workshops (ie. interviewing for employment, resume building), and other support services.

The mentees are currently conducting research related to their chosen careers. They continue to develop their workplace skills, build their resumes, and learn interviewing and employment etiquette. They also interviewed their parents to learn, compare, and develop more insight into other careers. During our interviews, we learned about the parents’ interesting jobs of news editor, pre-kindergarten teacher, real estate agent, software government contractor, and senior contractor.

In the next few months, RAMP has a few guest speakers scheduled to talk more about financial literacy, different trades and careers, job readiness, and college. In Phase Three, RAMP mentees are looking forward to working on STEAM projects.