What happens after high school? For students without disabilities, their futures are often filled with exciting college and work opportunities. But students with disabilities are often left behind and alone. We believe every young person deserves a bright future, one filled with opportunities to learn, work and belong. This is why we created Empowerment Lab.
Empowerment Lab is comprised of three key elements: Exploration, Digital Portfolio Creation and Resource Development.
Each Empowerment Lab three-month series begins with a kick-off meeting for families. During the Exploration phase, students engage in 10 weekly Empowerment Lab sessions in a small group of six students within their high schools, or at our community-based learning sites. The curriculum is hands-on and technology-rich. Empowerment Lab is grounded in doctoral research conducted at Temple University.
Our interdisciplinary team learns about each student—their passions, talents, interests, preferred work environment, and strategies for success. This information is collected through a variety of different methods—question asking, hands-on volunteer and work activities, videos accompanied by group discussions, and games. We emphasize the importance of volunteerism as a way for students to explore their interests, engage with the surrounding community and secure valuable connections for paid employment.
Empowerment Lab engages students and their families. In addition to school staff, parents are a vital part of our teams, providing incredibly valuable insight regarding strengths that might not shine in a classroom setting.
Our team collects a wealth of information about each student throughout the series. This data, along with valuable input from families and school staff, comes together in our digital portfolios. More dynamic than a traditional paper resume, Integrate for Good’s digital portfolios make ability come alive through photography and videography using our signature strengths-based approach.
Each series ends with a culminating ceremony including a presentation of certificates and an exciting “reveal” party of the digital portfolios. This is always a huge highlight of Empowerment Lab for our students, family members and teachers (and our team as well!).
The second element of Empowerment Lab is Resource Development. After the three-month Exploration process and Digital Portfolio Creation, our staff is familiar with each student’s interests and passions. This information is used to create a personalized list of potential volunteer sites, employers, or community contacts for each student. We work with each student to connect them with their preferred community contact using their digital portfolio as a tool for self-advocacy.
Interested in what our digital portfolios look like? See an Example