Jewish Vocational Services


Organization Profile: JVS, a nonprofit, community-based organization, was founded in 1973, specifically to address the job placement assistance needs of the Jewish community. Since then it has expanded its mission and has become an employment preparation, job placement and job resource to the broader community, with a special focus on the needs of the immigrant and low-income populations as well as young people with disabilities.

JVS operates six different youth programs, five of which focus on youth with disabilities. The sixth program is for youth on probation that provides paid internships along with job skills workshops and career development opportunities. The largest program is the Work Resource Program which provides vocational education and employment services to about 400 students with disabilities annually at San Francisco public and non-public high schools. JVS is a provider for the Mayor’s Youth and Education Employment Program, a subsidized after school and summer job program, and operates transition services programs for in and out of school youth with disabilities, ages 16 through 24. The transition services programs provide transition and career development services, including vocation assessment, career planning, paid internships, job counseling and placement, education support, and case management support.

Program Summary: This project was launched in February of 2005, with a conference that approximately 200 individuals attended including teachers, service providers, program administrators, parents, and employers. The conference provided a forum for participants to network, learn about resources, and contribute their perspectives on the topic of improving transition services. Following the conference, the Improving Outcomes Project Interagency Council was formed. Under the auspices of the Council, the two lead agencies for the project, JVS and Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, developed a strategic plan, undertook resource mapping, and provided an ongoing forum for agencies to come together to share information.

Resource Mapping: The resource mapping was initiated through a mass mailing of 5,000 surveys (in English, Spanish, and Cantonese) to agency directors, youth service providers, and families. The surveys gathered information on existing services and resources. The survey results were also used to identify service needs and gaps and provide input that was used to develop priorities for the strategic plan for improving transition services for youth with disabilities and their families. In addition to the surveys, public input was sought through a series of youth-led focus groups for parents and youth. Parent focus groups were held in English, Spanish, and Cantonese.

Program Structure/Design: JVS was competitively selected as one of three pilot sites by the state of California under its Improving Transitions Outcome Project (ITOP), an intermediary grant project funded by the Office of Disability Employment Policy. They received funding from June 30, 2004 to September 30, 2006. Under this project, JVS, in partnership with another nonprofit, community-based organization called Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, formed an interagency council to build professional collaboration among the school district, nonprofit agencies, public agencies, families, youth, and employers to improve coordination and service delivery across the multiple systems of care. The Improving Outcomes Project Interagency Council brought together representatives from state and city agencies including juvenile justice, foster care, mental health, public health, vocational rehabilitation, the local school district special education program, and other city agencies including youth service providers, disability servicing agencies, and post-secondary institutions. Monthly meetings provided a forum for information sharing across agencies. As part of the project, JVS provided comprehensive services to more than 80 youth, 65% of whom were in school youth and 35% of whom were out of school youth.

States of Operation: CA
ODEP Funded: No
Profile Year: 2009


Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: Youth participating in the project were assigned to an employment specialist that worked with the youth to develop a service plan. In developing the plan, a career exploration inventory was used as well as available electronic tools, such as the Department of Labor’s Career Voyager. The employment specialist worked with the youth and the school to obtain the most recent IEP. For those youth who were not in school, the community colleges’ disability programs provided educational assessments. All service strategies included employment goals, including initial employment experiences that were in the form of internships.

Youth Development and Leadership: ITOP participants developed leadership skills in a number of ways. First, the JVS youth advisory committee was expanded as a result of this project to include ITOP youth. The youth advisory committee meets every other week. Members presented at meetings such as the San Francisco mayor’s city budget hearings. They also received facilitator training to prepare for their role in leading project related focus groups. Finally the youth advisory council members developed and submitted a proposal for a leadership training conference for 100 youth that focused on self-advocacy and employment preparation.

Connecting Activities: A distinguishing feature of this project compared to other youth services provided by JVS was that the service plan included other community service providers. For example, some youth were connected to services for pregnant and parenting youth, housing, mental health services, transportation, and funding for post-secondary education.


Systems Change: The ITOP Interagency Council and the collaborative approach to service delivery are the lasting legacies from this project. The Council continues to meet regularly since the project funding ended in September 2006 and to sponsor activities. For example, in March of 2007, the Council sponsored a resource fair for youth with disabilities. The Council continues to be a place where the 30 member agencies and organizations come together to share information and resources.

As part of the project, the Council developed mission and vision statements that are posted on its web site at and that continue to guide their efforts. Under the auspices of the Council, resource mapping of services for youth with disabilities were conducted. The results were used to develop a resource directory ( that is currently operational. The directory provides transition aged youth, parents, and professionals with resources in five areas: Advocacy, Education, Employment, Equipment, and Financial Assistance.

In October 2006, the Council issued its Strategic Plan for 2006 — 2011 that is also available on the web site. The strategic plan set a vision for improving transition services for youth with disabilities. In developing the plan, the Council conducted outreach into the community in order to assess the current environment of transition services and to get input from many different individuals and organizations. They hosted a conference, held focus groups, and conducted surveys. The final plan includes specific strategies, timelines, and responsible organizations for implementing the items.

Organization Name: Jewish Vocational Services
Organization Director: Abby Snay
Street Address: 225 Bush Street, Suite 400
City: San Francisco
State: CA

Contact Person: Kevin Hickey
Contact Title: Youth Employment Manager
Contact E-mail: