Learn Earn and Prosper (LEAP) Program
The Learn, Earn, and Prosper (LEAP) program provides youth, 16-24 years old, who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to gain the skills needed to become independent, confident, and productive young adults. The goal of this program is to increase the employable skills of youth in transition which will help lead to meaningful employment. The LEAP program is a great balance of learning new skills and enjoying all that Vermont’s outdoors has to offer in the summertime — for instance sailing, hiking, and visiting the local Farmer's Market!
In 2014, 16 Corps Members representing 4 states participated in the LEAP program and over the course of 4-8 weeks they learned how to:
Check out the LEAP Crew blog and 2013 LEAP Crew video below to learn more about their adventures. This video highlights an educational opportunity within the program as the footage was taken by a past LEAP Corps Member who was interested in exploring documentary film making.
In 2015 we will offer two distinct LEAP programs: the LEAP Crew for youth 16-22 and the LEAP Internship for youth 18-24.
Session 1: June 13 - July 9, 2015
Session 2: July 12 - August 6, 2015
The LEAP Crew is an intensive residential program where a team of 6-8 Corps Members have a chance to practice living independently under the guidance of two experienced VYCC Crew Leaders. Members learn how to cook meals, shop for groceries, budget money, use public transportation, do laundry, and live as a community -- all while making friends and sharing new experiences!
LEAP Corps Members work at one of two job placements three days a week, work with the Farm at VYCC one day a week and participate in weekly career and college readiness workshops. Weekends are spent as a crew exploring all the Burlington area has to offer: canoeing, hiking, swimming, attending a play, visiting the museum, practicing yoga, taking art classes, etc.
Throughout this whole experience the crew lives in an apartment on the UVM campus where they can practice independent living skills, such as learning to buy groceries, cooking healthy meals, doing laundry and sharing chores around the apartment.
One of the job training sites for the LEAP Crew is ReSOURCE. At ReSOURCE, Corps Members receive job training which in turn helps ReSOURCE to continue its mission of teaching individuals in transition valuable job skills and technical training. Many tasks and projects must be completed in order to help ReSOURCE run efficiently and effectively. To learn more visit www.resourcevt.org.
Corps members may receive job training in one or more areas including customer service, working in the home goods store, dissembling computers, small appliance repair, carpentry, and office administration.
The Overlook Café is a Randolph Sheppard site and serves as the other LEAP Crew training site.
At the Overlook Café Corps Members learn job skills including customer service, food preparation, menu pricing, cash register use, and office administration.
The Farm at VYCC
One day a week the LEAP Crew travels to Richmond, VT to work with Farm Crew. The LEAP crew works as a team to weed gardens, harvest and wash vegetables, weigh and pack weekly Health Care Shares and prepare for the Farmer’s Market.
Every Friday, the Summer Crew participates in workshops with partner organizations, such as the Department of Labor, Guiding Eyes, Vocational Rehab, and more. These workshops cover essential career skills such as interviewing, budgeting, and resume writing.
WoRD - Writing, Reading and Discussion
Built into each day is one hour for the VYCC educational program, WoRD. Using a compilation of articles and essays, crews read aloud about important environmental and social issues that are relevant both locally and nationally. The crew then engages in thoughtful discussion and spends time journaling on the topic. The goal of WoRD is to explore new topics and help participants articulate their thoughts and opinions in a safe environment. WoRD books are available electronically and in large print and Braille.
- Work hard as part of a team
- Participate in all VYCC activities, including WoRD, group training exercises, and community activities
- Respect fellow crew members and the natural environment
- Share all cooking and cleaning duties
- Complete safe, high quality work on all projects
- Abide by all VYCC rules and policies
- 16 - 24 years of age
- Strong desire to join the VYCC and work with others
- Ability to follow directions and independently complete tasks
- Willingness to learn, receive feedback, and work hard
2015 LEAP Application
For any questions please email Kaelyn Modrak or call at (585)755-8064!
2015 Intern Application
Any questions? Contact Kaelyn Modrak or call at (585)755-8064.
We have welcomed youth from New Hampshire, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. We are looking forward to working with even more states in 2015!
In the state of Vermont, the Vermont Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired pays the tuition cost for the Vermont Students attending the LEAP program. Please contact Kaelyn Modrak with questions regarding out of state applicants.
Each Corps Member in the program is responsible for their transportation to and from the program. The program will start and end at the West Monitor Barn at 1949 East Main Street, Richmond, Vermont.
Job Dates: May 27 – August 11, 2015
As a VYCC Crew Leader you will serve as a teacher, work supervisor, and a role model for your crew of young adults. Together with another leader, you will be responsible for:
- Building a community
- Overseeing the health and safety of your crew
- Professionally managing your work project
- Teaching both life and job skills
- Ensuring that high quality standards are achieved
- Facilitating crew education, including the WoRD program
- Upholding the VYCC’s mission statement
LEAP Crew Leaders will spend two weeks partaking in intense residential training designed to teach the technical and interpersonal skills needed to be a successful leader at the VYCC. In addition to what is taught, each leader is encouraged to further develop their own strengths and enhance their existing skills. The long days and nights spent as a group during training will also contribute to building a strong community of leaders, who learn just as much from each other as they do from the rigorous training sessions.
A sample of topics covered at Staff Training:
- Community and teambuilding
- Crew management and motivation
- Risk management and Emergency Response Plans
- Cooperative leadership
- Administrative paperwork
- How to facilitate WoRD
- What to know when working with people with visual impairments
After training, leaders will have a few days to plan and prepare for the arrival of their crew. This preparation will include site visits, vehicle and gear distribution, and contacting Corps Members to make sure they have everything they need for their crew experience.
Challenges and Rewards
The combination of a diverse crew with excellent, trained leaders working together creates a personally challenging and educationally rich experience for everyone involved. Once your crew arrives, you will combine your previous experiences with what you've learned at training to transform your crew from a diverse group of strangers into a tight-knit community.
It will not be easy. Days (and some nights!) will be long, and you and your co-leader will have a roller coaster of experiences. However, in the end, leading a group of young people through the development of new skills will teach you and your crew lessons you will use for the rest of your lives.
Crew Leader Responsibilities
- Provide leadership, supervision, motivation and direction to a diverse group of Corps Members who are blind or visually impaired
- Effectively work with a co-leader
- Build a healthy community
- Uphold VYCC Mission
- Train crew in work skills and independent living skills
- Enforce VYCC Policies and follow appropriate discipline procedures
- Facilitate the WoRD Program, and integrate environmental education into crew experience
- Process paperwork and payroll
- Maintain regular communication with supervisor and VYCC headquarters
- Take responsibility for personal development and engage in VYCC Leadership Review process
- Use sound judgment to navigate difficult situations and decisions
- Write a detailed final evaluation of the program
- Ensure that healthy food is prepared
- Budget management and bulk food purchasing
- At least 22 years old
- Preferable background in education or residential therapeutic setting
- Leadership experience with diverse groups of young people.
- Budget management and bulk food purchasing experience
- Excellent organization and communication skills
- Ability to adapt and be flexible in a variety of situations
- Strong work ethic and ability to work long days in challenging conditions
- Maturity, optimism and a sense of humor
- Standard First Aid/CPR
- A good driving record and a valid driver's license held for a minimum of 3 years.
- Willingness to undergo a criminal background check
We will begin taking applications for 2015 in January. For more information about a LEAP Crew Leader position, please contact Kaelyn Modrak at (585)755-8064 or Kaelyn.Modrak@vycc.org
“Before LEAP Crew, I was a very shy and insecure individual. I had never had a job and never met other visually impaired or blind people. I was hesitant to join the VYCC at first but the idea of learning important job and living skills as well as interacting with other visually impaired people my age was appealing. Since joining VYCC, I have been strongly encouraged to voice my opinion and help others find their voices as well. Having a job for the first time is a very rewarding feeling and I’ve made a lot of what I feel will be lifetime friends.” – Vanessa, 2013 LEAP Corps Member