OBI-GEEK – Educational Pathway to Employment Christian Horizons (Toronto)

In 2019, the Educational Pathway to Employment Program, a partnership between Christian Horizons and Humber College, was awarded one of the Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI) Growing Expertise in Evaluation and Knowledge Transition (GEEK) initiative grants.

The Educational Pathway to Employment program is a post-secondary nine-month culinary certificate program for people with disabilities. The hands-on specific training offered through the program allows those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to successfully access an education that can lead to employment, support improved health and well-being and not feel excluded from society.

The program advances the message that access to education is a fundamental human right, seeking to break down barriers to post-secondary education and increasing career specific educational pathways for students with disabilities that lead directly to employment outcomes.

In being named a “2019 OBI-GEEK”, the program received $80,000 in funding to be provided over a 2-year period.

The funding from OBI-GEEK has allowed Christian Horizons to develop resources and tools in order to better evaluate the results delivered through the employment program – including employment and job retention.

An outcome that was successfully achieved by Michelle Tarco.

After graduating with the Basic Culinary Skills certificate from Humber College, Michelle worked with an employment coordinator from Christian Horizons to help her create a dynamic photo resume that would allow her to stand-out when applying for jobs in the market.

When Michelle received an interview request for a position in the food industry, she was more than ready. As part of this interview process, Michelle was asked to prepare the cheese and meat at the food prep station. The employer was extremely impressed to observe Michelle’s knowledge of food and workplace safety, as well as her attention to detail and ability to answer questions with confidence.

So impressed with her interview, Tim Horton’s decided to hire Michelle on the spot! In addition to enjoying her employment, Michelle has made sure to stay connected with her friends from her graduating class and had a key role in planning her class’ Humber reunion.

Michelle’s journey, and the overarching accomplishments of the educational Pathway to Employment Program, directly meets the goals set-out by the GEEK initiative. In particular, this program has increased the quantity and quality of evidence-based programs, with Christian Horizons and Humber College partnering to fill a gap in the education system, helping to create more opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to access employment training programs.

Watch Michelle’s story here.

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