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TWC’s Summer Earn & Learn Program Connects Students with Disabilities to Work Opportunities

News Category Press Releases
May 16, 2023

Media Contact: Angela Woellner
Phone: 512-463-8556

AUSTIN ⎯ The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) announces the kickoff of this year’s Summer Earn and Learn (SEAL) program for students with disabilities aged 14-22. Through work-based learning, students earn a paycheck while acquiring new skills and gaining professional experience. Employers participating in SEAL benefit from the addition of engaged and enthusiastic team members.

SEAL, is a partnership between TWC, Workforce Solutions Boards, and local employers who partner to create meaningful work opportunities. Students participating in SEAL attend work readiness training to prepare them for successful employment through the summer program.

“Most of us can remember the excitement of our first summer job and the beginnings of our career,” said TWC Chairman Bryan Daniel. “TWC provides students with disabilities a rewarding experience of a first job with a well-earned paycheck with the Summer Earn and Learn program.”

In the summer of 2022, the SEAL program hosted 2,516 students across the state at 1,263 employer sites. See how pre-employment services like SEAL help Texans like Bennett gain workplace skills and experience at CVS in an "earn-while-you-learn" structure.

“Texas employers continue to participate in Summer Earn and Learn and other valuable vocational rehabilitation programs because it is a rewarding experience to work with the true problem-solvers of our society,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Aaron Demerson. “A broad range of Texas employers, large and small, participate in these pre-employment programs, in order to find their hardworking workforce.”

The SEAL program has grown to include a variety of both private and public sector employers, such as Typhoon Texas in Houston, Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, the City of Shepherd, Odessa College in Odessa, San Benito Chamber of Commerce, Sea World San Antonio and Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Grand Prairie.

Through the program, students learn about the employer’s industry and develop specialized knowledge and talents. Upon completion of the work experience, some students have had the opportunity to become employed full time.

“Summer Earn and Learn is an exciting and beneficial program for students with disabilities to experience their first job and expand their future career opportunities,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Labor Alberto Treviño III. “This is another excellent example of how an earn-while-you-learn path helps build skills and confidence for youth.”

Success Story One:

This past summer, SEAL participant Neil Milton explored his interest in a science-related career while working at the Science Spectrum interactive museum in Lubbock. Not only has he learned some of the basic principles of engineering, but he has also gained other soft skills.

“I’ve really learned how everything works and operates. I’ve basically learned what it means to be a good employee,” said Milton, “I want to major in wind turbine tech. That includes helping to build wind turbines, fixing parts that are broken, and replacing parts to keep the wind turbine in good condition.” 

Watch Milton’s story here: https://www.everythinglubbock.com/news/latest/summer-program-giving-students-with-disabilities-in-west-texas-opportunities-to-develop-job-skills/

Success Story Two:

For several years, Lubbock-area business Mighty Wash has welcomed several students for summer employment through SEAL, and also hired several of those students as full-time employees. Mighty Wash’s Trainer and Training Director Montae Barber is supportive of hiring students with disabilities through SEAL.

“The summer work program that we took part in involved several great working employees at several of the Mighty Wash locations. The kids that wanted to work at the site locations were an awesome help and several are still great team members at the stores,” said Barber. “We would recommend that any business get on board with the Summer Earn and Learn Program at any chance and we look forward to the opportunities in the future.”

Success Story Three:

Open Trail Ranch in Boerne provides a welcoming path to employment to their SEAL participants. The nonprofit provides equine assisted services to children and adults with physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges, and say their SEAL trainees bring hardworking attitudes and bright smiles.

“Our SEAL trainees have been a great asset to our facility as we hope we have been to them!” said Open Trail Ranch Program Director Amber Wodarz-O'Hara. “We are so extremely proud of our SEAL trainees and everything they have accomplished so far and we can’t wait to see how they continue to excel!”

Students or employers interested in participating in SEAL should contact their local Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services office.

Visit: twc.texas.gov/VRNearMe
Call: 512-936-6400
Email: vr.office.locator@twc.texas.gov

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Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers, and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and its services in coordination with its local workforce development boards network, call 512-463-8942 or visit https://twc.texas.gov/. Subscribe to email updates to receive notifications about TWC programs and services.