This summer, the Youth Employment Services (YES) program through ESD 112 placed 136 students with disabilities into paid internships to build important career and life skills. The program prepares youth for success and improves employment outcomes by coordinating paid internship and training opportunities for local students with disabilities, ages 14-21.

“Our students have the opportunity to use what they are learning in school and in our Work Readiness and Self Advocacy classes and apply their skills and knowledge in the real world,” said Christine Katon, Youth Workforce Program Manager at ESD 112. “This helps them to discover and develop their strengths, and as a result, their confidence.”

Over 25 businesses in six counties hosted YES internships this summer. Interns committed between 40-120 hours to the internship sites, and 96% of the youth successfully completed their internship.

Twelve interns were hired by businesses upon successful completion of their internship. BiZi Farms, a family-owned farm in Vancouver, Washington, rehired three summer interns for fall employment.

“These interns did a great job, and we’re hiring them back this fall for the pumpkin patch,” said Joe Zimmerman, Finance and Marketing Director of BiZi Farms.

YES is a year-round program serving youth in Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Clark, Skamania, and Klickitat counties, serving 500 students over the past year. Internships and other career readiness programs are made possible thanks to strong business partnerships throughout the Southwest Washington region. Businesses can get involved by hosting an intern, providing job site tours, offering job shadow opportunities, hosting mock interviews, being a guest speaker, or reviewing student resumes.

To learn more about Youth Employment Services, visit the YES website.