Inclusion Illuminated: Lawrence Partnership for Transition to Employment (LPTE) — A Community Employment Collaboration

The Lawrence Partnership for Transition to Employment (LPTE) is a new, 5-year collaborative youth transition project between the ICI, Lawrence Public Schools, Massachusetts state agencies, community organizations, advocacy groups, youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (ID/DD), and family members.

As an Administration on Community Living (ACL) Project of National Significance on Community Collaborations for Employment, the LPTE focuses on enhancing collaborations across existing local systems to help youth with ID/DD seamlessly transition from school to jobs in their communities. Youth with disabilities interact with many systems during their transition from school to work. The LPTE will design and test transition services and activities to increase the number of youth with ID/DD in Lawrence who find and keep long-term career-focused competitive integrated employment, graduate from post-secondary education programs, and live and participate fully in their communities.

The LPTE aims to transform transition services by creating a sustainable model that results in improved employment and post-secondary education outcomes and long-term career successes for youth. The project goals are interrelated and emphasize collaboration between diverse partner organizations. The LPTE project goals are to:

  • deepen and expand collaboration among local partners by establishing a multi-stakeholder consortium
  • conduct a community landscape analysis of the status of transition to work services and outcomes for students in Lawrence to enhance transition processes and experiences for youth and families
  • develop and implement a Community Collaboration Employment Transition Plan to improve to work outcomes for youth with ID/DD in Lawrence

To ensure meaningful community engagement, the LPTE will follow the six principles of Collaborating for Equity and Justice, which focus on “leadership by those most affected by injustice and inequity to affect structural and systemic changes.”

Partners will apply these principles:

  1. Principle 1: Explicitly address issues of social and economic injustice and structural racism. Consortium members will participate in training on racial justice and cultural competency and hold meetings in English and Spanish.
  2. Principle 2: Employ a community development approach in which residents have equal power in determining the coalition’s agenda and resource allocation. The community landscape analysis process will ensure the voices of community members, particularly youth with ID/DD and their family members, are driving the LPTE.
  3. Principle 3: Employ community organizing as an intentional strategy and work to build resident leadership and power. Youth with ID/DD and family members will be compensated to lead a Steering Committee and each topical workgroup. ICI will hire a bilingual liaison to maintain ongoing local communication with community members.
  4. Principle 4: Focus on policy, systems, and structural change. Consortium members will elevate the needs and issues identified by self-advocates and families and examine policy, systems, and structural changes to address them.
  5. Principle 5. Build on the extensive community-engaged scholarship and research that show what works, acknowledge the complexities, and evaluate appropriately. The evaluation process will reflect both process and outcome measures, including measures of the effectiveness of the collaboration itself.
  6. Principle 6. Construct core functions for the collaborative based on equity and justice that provide basic facilitating structures and build member ownership and leadership. Though the ICI will coordinate and facilitate the project, leadership and direction will emerge from the structure of the consortium itself. The principal investigator and project staff are actively engaged in ICI’s racial equity learning community and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Steering Committee. These efforts will influence and inform ICI’s work on this project.

LPTE project staff include:

Jen Sulewski, Principal Investigator

Jen Sulewski Headshot

Nancy Hurley, Local Liaison

Nancy Hurley headshot

Oliver Lyons, Project Evaluator

Oliver Lyons headshot

The project also includes a contract with the Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport to support a local bilingual family navigator.

The Lawrence Partnership for Transition to Employment is a collaboration between:

  • Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI)
  • Lawrence Public Schools
  • The Arc of Greater Haverhill-Newburyport
  • Fidelity House Career Resources Corporation
  • Northeast Independent Living Program
  • Northern Essex Community College
  • Merrimack Valley Workforce Board
  • Merrimack Valley Regional Transit Authority
  • MA Department of Developmental Services
  • MA Developmental Disabilities Council
  • MA Rehabilitation Commission
  • MassFamilies
  • Massachusetts Advocates for Children
  • Disability Law Center