Mission Employment


For every student to serve an independent life through meaningful work.


Engaging every student in career planning activities that lead to a fulfilling adult life through work.

Image of employees walking, one of which is accelerating in a wheelchair with a briefcase


Mission Empower’s Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS), provided in collaboration with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, are designed to support the transition from school into adult life of high school students with disabilities. To pave the way for employment, Pre-ETS services provide vocational exploration, hard and soft skills training, and competitive integrated vocational experiences to high school students. Pre-ETS give students an introduction to work that will serve to inform their future vocational choices, develop work habits, and obtain experience that will make them more marketable in the competitive workforce. Pre-ETS services are specifically designed for high school students. Classes are generally sixty to ninety minutes long.

Workplace Readiness Training:

Mission Empower uses curriculum developed by the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to train students on soft skills that are universally important for a successful work experience

Independent Living Skills Training:

Mission Empower provides training to students on using life skills outside of school which will prepare them for work.

Advocacy Training:

Students learn how to advocate for themselves and ask for reasonable accommodations at school and in the workplace. They are educated on the services available in school and upon graduation that will help them succeed.

School administrators interested in Mission Empower’s Pre-ETS services should contact Norma Lewis, Director of Mission Employment.

Pathways: Career Readiness Workshops & Paid Work Experiences

Pathways is a two-phase program that prepares young adults ages 14 – 24 to be workplace-ready. The first phase consists of seven career readiness workshops that introduce concepts relating to participation in the workforce, including interview preparation, workplace communication and conflict resolution, and much more. The second phase, a paid work experience (PWE) at a local business, gives participants an opportunity to work a real job and apply all that they’ve learned in the workshops. Upon successful completion of the PWE, participants gather for a final workshop on resume writing and receive a certificate.

Mission Empower partners with schools to offer this program. Please contact us if your school is interested in collaborating.

Pathways is made possible through a TANF grant via CareerLink.

Discovery Customized Employment

The Discovery Customized Employment program empowers jobseekers who experience barriers to employment to achieve their potential and contribute their talents to the local workforce. 

Productivity demands and competitive hiring processes effectively prevent those with significant barriers to employment from entering the workplace. In Erie County, 32.5% of people with disabilities are living at the poverty level—over double the amount of the unemployed population without disabilities.1 Discovery integrates these jobseekers into the community by matching what they can do with what businesses need, thus facilitating mutually beneficial employment relationships.

As a Result of Discovery…

Connor’s Story

Connor is an 18-year-old senior at Meadville high school. He started our Paid Work Experience back in June working at Meadville Area Recreational Complex (MARC) in the Garden. In the beginning, he really didn’t know what to expect working at MARC, but he was ready and determined to do the hard work that was

required. His Supervisor Jill showed him all the ins and outs of what to do in the Garden. Connor felt very comfortable working with Jill and the volunteers. He stated that she is very helpful, laid back, and nice. During the experience, he has learned how to mow lawns, plant, weed, and spread wood chips in the pathways.

Connor worked well with the community volunteers and built a good repour with them. Although it is not something he wants to do as a living he is happy he got the skills and opportunity. It taught him how important it was to be on time and consistent with the schedule, that it is important to have communication with others, and how rewarding it can be to work hard for your money.

Here at Mission Empower we get the opportunity through our Mission Employment Program to Job Coach students like Connor and see them grow through their Paid Work Experience.

Questions? Contact Us:

Mission Empower
1611 Peach St Suite #120, Erie, PA 16501

Program Contact:
Norma Lewis

Contact Phone:
(814) 825-0788

Contact Email:

Publication of this Website’s page is made possible through a Cooperative Agreement Grant # H328C160010 between OSEP and Mission Empower (M.E.). The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or by Mission Empower.