WorkLink was founded in 2018, and we welcomed our first class of 4 students in the 2019-2020 academic year. WorkLink was made possible by a grant from the D.R.E.A.M. foundation, and with support from the College of Education and other project partners.
Mission of Penn State University:
WorkLink directly aligns with the University’s mission statement and Strategic Plan, particularly related to diversity, student engagement, access to education, and economic development. As stated in Penn State’s Statement on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at Penn State:
- We will foster and maintain a safe environment of respect and inclusion for faculty, staff, students, and members of the communities we serve.
- We will educate our faculty, staff, and students to be social justice advocates, creatively providing curricula, programs, and environments that reflect the diversity of our communities and elevate cultural awareness.
- We will ensure fair and inclusive access to facilities, programs, resources, and services, and ensure that all of our policies and practices are inclusive and equitable.
- We will advance and build our workforce by assessing hiring practices and performances review procedures to attract, retain, and develop talented faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds.
- We will address intergroup disparities in areas such as representation, retention, learning outcomes, and graduation rates.
Goals of WorkLink
- Provide a focus on integrated work experiences, career skills, academic enrichment, socialization, independent living skills, financial literacy, and self-advocacy skills that lead to community-integrated, customized and/or competitive employment.
- Develop and supervise internships for participating students
- Work with community partners and employers (including Penn State) to identify training sites and opportunities for student to gain employment upon completion of program.
Outcomes for WorkLink students include:
- Increased access to postsecondary education (PSE) programs for students
- Attainment of competitive employment as a result of the certificate program
- Increased independent living skills
- Enhanced socialization as a result of increased peer interactions and extracurricular opportunities
- Academic enrichment
WorkLink is based on the THINK College Standards, quality indicators and benchmarks for inclusive higher education and include the following:
STANDARD 1: ACADEMIC ACCESS
Facilitate quality academic access for students with intellectual disabilities
STANDARD 2: CAREER DEVELOPMENT
Facilitate career development leading to competitive employment for students with intellectual disabilities.
STANDARD 3: CAMPUS MEMBERSHIP:
Facilitate campus membership for students with intellectual disabilities.
STANDARD 4: SELF-DETERMINATION
Facilitate the development of self-determination in students with intellectual disabilities.
STANDARD 5: ALIGNMENT WITH COLLEGE SYSTEMS AND PRACTICES
Facilitate alignment with college systems and practices for students with intellectual disabilities.
STANDARD 6: COORDINATION AND COLLABORATION
Facilitate collaboration and coordination.
STANDARD 7: SUSTAINABILITY
STANDARD 8: ONGOING EVALUATION
Facilitate quality postsecondary education services for students with intellectual disabilities.