STRIVE U's curriculum consists of four interconnected domains
Competitive Employment-Real Job Experiences: STRIVE U's employment partner is Pro Search, a company that engages in the temporary and direct hire staffing of professional, technical, and office personnel in Southern Maine. Pro Search is committed to providing STRIVE U students with valuable, competitive work experience and the support needed to ensure successful professional experiences. Students will be given the opportunity to experience a wide variety employment opportunities of value (both to employee and employer) focusing on areas in which students express interest. STRIVE U and Pro Search staff will focus on creating and developing jobs in the students' selected interest areas, rather than have the same jobs limited to all. Our intention is to provide employment opportunities in areas other than the traditional ones open for people with developmental disabilities.
STRIVE also provides extensive job preparation and training to complement the work experience. This consists of resume preparation, interviewing skills, proper attire, and preparedness for the job search process. In addition, we will teach STRIVE U students how to be valued employees; arriving on time, filling out correct paperwork, having necessary documentation/identification, dressing appropriately, acting appropriately, understanding policies such as sexual harassment, and more. We will also teach how to appropriately leave a job, ask for a letter of reference, and the exit interview process.
Post-Secondary Education: STRIVE U collaborates with Kaplan University to provide an inclusive educational opportunity for STRIVE U students. In the first semester, students will enroll in a course at Kaplan University focused on transition and immersion into college. This course will focus on goal setting, decision making, development of academic vision, and the responsibilities of adult learners. At the end of the semester, students will be aware of options and ideas about how to implement the academic vision they develop over the semester. In the second semester, Kaplan University will provide an Advisor/Coordinator for STRIVE U students to help guide them identify personal and academic goals and how to meet their goals through collegiate academics. STRIVE U students will have Kaplan University student identification card and have full access to campus life, including recreational and social facilities, participation in intramural sports, admission to sanctioned clubs and unions, and other non-academic programs.
Independent Living in the Community: Students enrolled at STRIVE U will learn critical independent living skills in off-campus apartment buildings managed and staffed by STRIVE U. These apartments will serve as skills classrooms for independent living, training in money management, time management, independent travel, self-care, nutrition, health and wellness, and household management. Each resident will have maximum independence and choices including the opportunity to make mistakes in a safe environment. STRIVE U will employ Resident Advisors, an Education & Training Coordinator, and a Student Life Coordinator for the purpose of reinforcing curriculum through hands-on learning. Residential staff teaches multiple interrelated skills necessary for independent living; over this 2-year period extensive and intense training takes place. It is our goal to teach each student the skills and give each student the confidence to live independently upon graduation from STRIVE U.
Transition: Following graduation, STRIVE U, under the auspices of the Project for Supported Living, will assist graduates with housing and employment support, if necessary. This will ensure that STRIVE U graduates are productive and fully participating members of the community. The transition process will take place throughout students 2 years at STRIVE U. This will begin with enrollment, and the creation of a written transition plan, including goals set by the individual. Upon graduation from STRIVE U, and receiving the certificate of completion, students will have several things in place, including all factors identified in their transition plan.
Summary: STRIVE U is a complete program not offered anywhere else. It is inclusive, comprehensive, and groundbreaking. To reach maximum effectiveness and to complete the STRIVE U experience, each of the above areas need to work reciprocally. The uniqueness of the program is that it provides a complete package for students--while other programs may provide employment training, residential services, or post-secondary education very few programs provide all three for individuals with developmental disabilities. The collaboration between STRIVE U and Kaplan Unviersity also works to provide STRIVE U students with the educational opportunities, exposure, and inclusion other programs lack.