Carousel Ranch is pleased to announce it has received a $50,000 grant from the S. Mark Taper Foundation. These funds will support the operations and growth of Ready to Work (RTW!), an innovative employment readiness and training program for young adults with special needs.
The RTW! program is a two-component program based heavily on providing hands-on work experience, which started as a pilot program in June of 2016. With this funding, Carousel Ranch has successfully moved from the pilot program to full implementation now in its 3rd session serving 12 young adults in three classes. Plans are underway to increase the program to four classes serving 16 students in the next session this summer.
“The Ranch recognized the need for a classroom-based curriculum teaching soft skills necessary to be successful in the workplace,” said Marianne Cederlind, president of Carousel Ranch board of directors. “Students receive instruction on work skills such as clocking in, wearing a uniform, and how to work as a team. They also learn what is considered appropriate behavior, the importance of being flexible and possessing a positive attitude. By the end of the program students will have completed a resume, learned and practiced interview skills and finished far ‘readier to work’ than when they began.”
Classroom curriculum is further brought to life through actual work in the on-site Tack Shack/Snack Shack social enterprise run by the students. There are also various jobs around the ranch students assist with. “By the time our students leave the program, they have done a variety of work – from horse and ranch care to vehicle washing, construction to office work, retail, food service, cashiering and so much more,” said Carousel Ranch Executive Director Denise Redmond.
Since program launch, Carousel Ranch has achieved impressive results with RTW! students being successful in the community. Two former students found paid employment, others are volunteering, and businesses within the community are starting to offer work experiences for those enrolled. “We want to see our students volunteering and working in the community and see this as an area of real growth as we move forward,” Redmond relayed.
“The Ranch has so many hopes and dreams to expand RTW! to serve more individuals, job and volunteer placements in the community, and the creation of a new ‘Ready to Grow!’ farm program,” said Cederlind. Carousel Farms, as it will be known, will instruct students on how to plant, care for, harvest and sell produce, herbs and pumpkins grown on site.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation, founded in 1989, is a private family foundation dedicated to enhancing the quality of people’s lives by supporting nonprofit organizations and their work in our communities. “We are truly honored to have been selected and promise to make the foundation proud of their investment in Carousel Ranch and the Ready to Work! program,” said Redmond.