PROMOTES stands for “Providing Realistic Opportunities to Mentor On-site Training for Employment Skills”, and is a program designed to provide supports to students interested in gaining paid employment. The program was developed through a partnership between the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University (WMU) and the Van Buren Intermediate School District (VBISD). Currently, the program is supervised by Dr. Kayla Jenssen as the practicum coordinator and Dr. Jessica Van Stratton as the Faculty Supervisor and Program Director.
PROMOTES is a practicum opportunity available to undergraduate and graduate students completing coursework in the Psychology Department or related programs at WMU. Practicum students serve as job coaches to young adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities, ages 16 and older, before and after they have obtained paid employment in the community. This program focuses on the use of individualized evidence-based practices with a behavior analytic focus to support students in building vocational and job-related social skills relevant to a successful integration into the workforce and community.
Services and supports provided by PROMOTES will help participants:
- Practice essential job skills (vocational, safety, time-management, organization, social, etc.)
- Identify employment opportunities in the community
- Access community resources
- Identify and list preferences for employment positions and locations
- Build and revise your resume, business cards, and curriculum vitae
- Network with employers and make cold calls to businesses
- Develop strong professional writing and communication skills
- Resolve conflicts and develop healthy work relationships
- Increase and monitor work productivity
- Set and achieve employment goals
- Develop materials that will help you at work (i.e. job aids)
- Advocate for accommodations and equal work opportunities
Please contact us via email if you have any questions about the PROMOTES Employment Project team.
If you are interested in joining PROMOTES, the first step is to submit an application by clicking on the “Referral” tab followed by the green “Submit Application” button. The PROMOTES program coordinator will then email you directly with the referral packet and will be able to provide additional information about the current capacity of the PROMOTES team.
After you have completed the referral packet, the PROMOTES Program Coordinator will review your information, connect with you via email (firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail)) in order to gather additional information. If necessary, they may schedule an in-person meeting to discuss your potential involvement in PROMOTES further.
PROMOTES participants are young adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or other developmental disabilities ages 16 and older. All participants must be eligible to work in the United States. Currently, the majority of PROMOTES participants are students in the Van Buren Intermediate School District, though we have now begun accepting outside referrals for young adults in Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
There are a few restrictions for participating in PROMOTES. Participants must be diagnosed with ASD or another developmental disability, be eligible to work in the United States, and would benefit from intensive and individualized behavior-based supports.
We are thrilled to say that there is no cost to participants in the PROMOTES Employment Project.
There are no discontinuation criteria for PROMOTES participants. Your job coach is eligible to work with you as long as you need and as long as you benefit from job coaching supports. This is determined on an individualized basis through ongoing discussions with the PROMOTES team.
At this time, our team’s primary focus is on teaching and supporting skills directly related to gaining and maintaining paid employment in the community. Any skills related to employment outcomes may fall under the umbrella of PROMOTES services. The PROMOTES team may also be able to help you find other helpful resources to meet other needs (e.g. access to driving resources and training, daily living skills).
A PROMOTES job coach provides support throughout the entire employment process. This includes pre-employment (job search, interviewing, submitting applications, etc.) and after you have obtained a job (vocation-specific tasks, conflict resolution, social skills, etc.) Your job coach will work with you at school, at work, and in the community. The services provided by the team are entirely individualized based on your needs and by what is supported in the research literature as being effective strategies for building and maintaining essential vocational skills.
That’s wonderful to hear! We are always open to collaborating with other teams who also provide job-related supports, and would be happy to discuss how we can best collaborate with them to support your goals.
Behavioral Skills Training (BST) is an instructional treatment package that includes four components: instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback (Ward-Horner & Strumey, 2012; Leaf et al., 2015). BST includes essential features for providing explicit instruction, embedding practice opportunities, and for continued progress monitoring and evaluation. This is the primary mode of instruction used by the PROMOTES team. Additional individualized and intensive behavior-based supports are also used pending the needs and goals of each PROMOTES participant.
If you are interested in applying to participate in the PROMOTES Employment Project, please click the button below to complete an application form. Please note, submitting an application does not guarantee you a position in the program. Acceptance into PROMOTES is determined by a number of factors, including team capacity and available funding.
Following receipt of your application, the PROMOTES Program Coordinator will email you to provide you with the team referral packet. Upon review of that packet, the PROMOTES team will contact you with additional information.
Behavioral Skills Training (BST)
- Lesson Plan Template
- Sample Lessons:
A very special thanks to those who have gone above and beyond in supporting the PROMOTES Employment Project and the success of its students:
- FlyWire Cameras for providing first-person point-of-view cameras as tools to create training materials for the PROMOTES team and participants.
- Dr. Hooks for providing plaques for local employers who employ and support PROMOTES clients.
- The Van Buren Intermediate School District (VBISD) for their on-going partnership and collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University.
- Jim Yana for volunteering countless hours to the PROMOTES team by nominating deserving participants for state and regional awards, as well as for creating videos for the job-related social skills curriculum developed by the PROMOTES team.
- Walgreens for their outstanding support of our students in both paid employment positions and work experience opportunities.
- Meijer and Headstart for their ongoing partnership and long-term collaboration with PROMOTES job coaches and employed PROMOTES students.
- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) for their initial funding and support when the PROMOTES Employment Project was established at Western Michigan University.