Saratoga’s College of Adaptive Arts gets $250,000 from county budget

Santa Clara County has partnered with the College of Adaptive Arts (CAA) to provide access to the CAA’s apprenticeship program, which was recently accredited by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The county’s $250,000 budget allocation, proposed by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, is set to be disbursed over two years to fund staffing, provide dedicated computers for the program and provide transportation for program participants where necessary.

The CAA is based in Saratoga at West Valley College and serves nearly 200 students across nine states, most of whom are living with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD). Its summer/fall semester started on July 10.

“Folks in the I/DD community are well-suited for a variety of career paths. They can and want to do more,” said Simitian. “This new workforce and apprenticeship program at CAA will provide the training and experience these adults need to reach their full potential and secure meaningful and fulfilling work.”

The new apprenticeships can be either a receptionist or a teacher’s aide position. These positions are designed to expand students’ vocational knowledge, increase the types of professional skills that students can learn at CAA, and allow more students access to employment with the nonprofit.

“This funding will (provide) a new array of potential job opportunities that are non-routine in nature and bring students more fulfillment around their interests, passions and contributions,” said DeAnna Pursai, CAA co-founder and executive director.

Candidates for this apprenticeship program are drawn from CAA’s own students, the West Valley College Disability Student Services Program and other populations that historically have had challenges obtaining work, according to officials.

“Fostering a love of lifelong learning for our students is our primary focus at the school,” said Pursai. “With this additional support, we can now begin to prepare our students to seek out jobs while exposing others to possible careers working with the I/DD community.”

The CAA was founded by Pursai and Dr. Pamela Lindsay, and started in 2009 with just 12 students.

“The work being done at CAA is unique, and really empowering for people in the I/DD community,” said Simitian. “The workforce apprenticeship program builds on the innovative practices in use at CAA, and is yet another resource to help folks in the I/DD world achieve a high quality of life for themselves.”


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