Empowering Futures: EDSI's Pre-ETS Program Transforms Lives in North Carolina

Jill Monte - Content Specialist ·

Explore the essence of empowerment with EDSI's Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) program in North Carolina. Since its inception six years ago, this collaborative initiative between EDSI and Vocational Rehabilitation has been instrumental in equipping students with disabilities with the essential skills needed for a seamless transition from high school to the workforce. Through a commitment to holistic support and active community engagement, the program has left an indelible mark, serving over 1,000 students across various counties and high schools. Join us as we dive deeper into the program's past achievements, its vision for the future, and the inspiring success story of Riley Peacock, a shining example of how Pre-ETS is shaping the futures of students, ensuring their pathway leads to success beyond graduation.

Importance of Pre-ETS Program

The Pre-ETS Program addresses the unique needs of students with disabilities, providing them with a comprehensive toolkit for post-high school success. Offering job exploration, workplace readiness training, work-based learning experiences, postsecondary training counseling, and self-advocacy instruction, the program ensures a holistic approach to empower students. By integrating weekly workshops into the students' class schedules, EDSI establishes a consistent and accessible platform for skill development while simultaneously building long lasting relationships with local schools and community partners.

Program Highlights and Achievements

EDSI's Pre-ETS Program has witnessed remarkable success since its inception. With a focus on collaboration, the program has enrolled and served over 1,000 eligible Vocational Rehabilitation students. Extending its impact to 24 high schools across seven counties, the program has provided over 2,000 Community Based Vocational Training (CBVT) hours to Occupational Course of Study (OCS) students. Noteworthy achievements include facilitating 53 paid Work-Based Learning internships and organizing college tours for over 500 youth.

The program's success is further accentuated by its consistently high performance in fiscal reviews and program evaluations. By maintaining a strong relationship with funders, the dedication of the program team, and an effective service delivery model, EDSI has established itself as a leader in providing essential support to students with disabilities.

Holistic Approach and Community Engagement

EDSI's holistic approach has garnered widespread support from teachers, school staff, community partners, and parents. Teachers appreciate the value the program brings to students' transition portfolios, Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, and classroom instruction. This holistic engagement not only ensures a more enriched educational experience for students but also increases the likelihood of graduation.

Adapting to Challenges and Expanding Horizons

The resilience displayed by EDSI's Pre-ETS Program during the challenging circumstances of the pandemic underscores its flexibility and adaptability. The program's success positions it for further expansion into new areas in the coming years.

The chart below illustrates the expansion efforts throughout the program years and showcases a steady growth in the number of students served, counties covered, and high schools involved.




High Schools

PY 2018

(2nd semester)




PY 2019-2020




PY 2020-2021




PY 2021-2022




PY 2022-2023




PY 2023-2024




Reflections and Future Vision

Scott Levine, Pre-ETS Program Director

With over 1500 students served, dozens of employer partnerships built, hundreds of college and employer tours completed, and thousands of community hours awarded, the Pre-ETS Program is just getting started! Our program has helped numerous high school students build their self-confidence while realizing that they can have a big impact on their community in a positive way; and that's why we do what we do. Inclusion is the only way that we'll succeed as a society, and our program can provide the opportunity for our students to see that in action and for our community to provide that very important chance that could change a student's life forever.

Our Pre-ETS Program has provided a consistently high performing delivery of employment counseling and workplace readiness training to high school students with disabilities since it started in 2018. The power of our program comes from the passion that my team has for our students and the drive to provide opportunities to those who are traditionally under-served. The Pre-ETS Program thrives and functions on a strong foundation of two simplified concepts: Consistency and Opportunity.

Looking ahead, EDSI envisions continued growth and impact. The program is currently serving over 580 students for the 2023-24 school year and is implementing a new “boot camp” model to serve 2 additional counties and 5 additional schools including a new alternative High School. Collaborating with organizations like HireAbility, EDSI aims to create a seamless system that provides students with the best possible information, ensuring their pathway leads to success beyond graduation.

EDSI's Pre-ETS Program stands as a beacon of empowerment for students with disabilities in North Carolina. Through its comprehensive and inclusive approach, the program has not only transformed individual lives but has also contributed to building a more inclusive and supportive educational ecosystem. As EDSI continues to evolve and expand its reach, the future holds promise for even greater success in preparing students for fulfilling careers and meaningful lives after high school.

Pre-ETS Student Success Story

Riley Peacock, Pre-ETS student

Riley joined the Pre-ETS Program during the 2022-23 school year as a sophomore with goals that included going to college after graduating high school and finding a job that allows her to be more independent. Throughout the year, Riley has excelled in the classroom, learned new information and put in the effort needed to gain valuable career readiness skills.

Due to Riley's great efforts, she was given an opportunity to apply for the Pre-ETS summer internship and was selected to be an intern! Riley was hired as an Operations Assistant with job duties that included greeting members, folding towels, filing membership applications, and cleaning the welcome area. Riley consistently met her goals and completed 120 hours at her internship site.

She plans to continue volunteering at the YMCA until she graduates high school. She would like to work at the YMCA after graduation and is looking forward to working independently and gaining additional job skills in the future. Riley is a wonderful example of a student that our Pre-ETS Program was made to serve and provide valuable skills for the workplace and for life.

To learn more about the Pre-ETS program or other programs operated by EDSI, fill out the form below and one of our team members will reach out soon!