Inclusion Illuminated: Apprenticeships for Youth in Underserved Rural Communities

Apprenticeship opportunities are an important part of youth transition to adulthood and the workforce. The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) Rural Youth Apprenticeship Development (RYAD) Project promotes the development and advancement of state and American Indian vocational rehabilitation (VR) apprenticeships programs for youth with disabilities ages 16-24 in underserved rural communities.

RYAD develops and shares rural-specific knowledge translation tools and resources, encourages VR partnerships with businesses and workforce systems, and works to increase the number of youth apprenticeship programs in rural areas where there are higher rates of people with disabilities who face lower rates of employment.

Advisory groups with various rural and apprenticeship subject matter experts, knowledge translation professionals, youth with disabilities, and other stakeholders guide the RYAD project’s work.

“It is important to explore the intersectionality between disability, race, age, economic context, and geographic context as we work toward a more equitable workforce landscape for youth with disabilities and for all.” — DeBrittany Mitchell, PI

The Institute for Community Inclusion leads the RYAD Project in partnership with Mathematica Policy Research, Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities, Arkansas Rehabilitation Services, and the Arkansas Career Development Center.

What is the RYAD Learning Collaborative?

Four VR agencies are taking part in the RYAD Learning Collaborative to develop or advance apprenticeships programs for youth with disabilities in underserved rural communities:

1.    Vermont Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired

2.    Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

3.    Wyoming Division of Vocational Rehabilitation

4.    Arkansas Rehabilitation Services/ Career Development Center

The RYAD Learning Collaborative provides a forum to help each VR agency develop policies that support apprenticeship programs in rural areas, address rural-specific barriers to apprenticeship program implementation, implement rural strategies and best practices to improve apprenticeship outcomes for youth with disabilities, and enhance statewide collaborations to facilitate the apprenticeship process to benefit both businesses and job seekers in rural communities.

The Arkansas Rehabilitation Services/ Career Development Center participates in the RYAD Learning Collaborative and provides mentorship to partners in Vermont and Wyoming. Watch our video series about apprenticeships at the Arkansas Career Training Institute.

Learn more about each state in the RYAD Learning Collaborative!

How can I learn more about RYAD?

Check out our Apprenticeship Toolkit resources for VR staff in rural communities. Stay tuned for new resources!

RYAD staff will be presenting “Moving Equity Forward in Apprenticeship Programs” at the 2022 Association for People Supporting Employment First (APSE) conference, June 13-15. Learn more and register today!

RYAD ICI Program staff include: 

DeBrittany Mitchell, Principal Investigator, Knowledge Translation Manager

DeBrittany Mitchell

Julisa Cully, Knowledge Translation Program Director

Julisa Cully

Mary Di Biase, Training Associate

Mary Di Biase

Kostas Koutsioumpas, Research Assistant

Kostas Koutsioumpas

David Hoff, Program Director

David Hoff

Allison Taylor, Senior Research Associate

Allison Taylor

RYAD receives funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. For more information, download the RYAD project factsheet.