Auburn Career Center awarded $330,000 job-training grant

Feb. 16—Auburn Career Center in Concord Township has been awarded a $330,000 job-training grant to establish a workforce-development initiative for adult residents of Lake and Geauga counties with developmental disabilities.

Officials confirmed Auburn is one of four institutions of higher education to be chosen for the program — "Pathways to Careers — Improving Post-Secondary Education Options for Students with Developmental Disabilities" — by the Ohio Board of Developmental Disabilities.

The Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati and Youngstown State University were also selected.

According to Michelle Rodewald, Auburn director of adult workforce education and business partnerships, the strategic plan for the project serves to develop new credential classes and apprenticeship prospects.

"There are over 250 adults in Lake and Geauga counties with developmental disabilities who could benefit from additional post-secondary opportunities," she said. "These include students who graduated in 2020, 2021 and, 2022, plus students who will graduate or exit school during the grant period.

"The classes that will be offered will be short-term and hands-on, and each class will lead to another class where the student could potentially earn additional, stackable, nationally-recognized credential," Rodewald added. "Courses will be designed based on the hours needed to complete the training for the credential, and an additional amount of hours to increase the time needed for students to practice the skill to gain mastery."

Classes will be 100 percent in-person and will be held at Auburn, however, if needed, classes can be held in other locations if that location best suits a group of students, as long as supplies and equipment needed are available.

Classes will also be tailored to the needs of the students, as Auburn plans to use a multi-prong approach to ensure success, Rodewald explained.

"In addition to the core team, we will also recruit and train student mentors, and these individuals will have leadership qualities and a genuine desire to help others and will assist the teacher and the students by offering emotional support and a second set of eyes for the teacher," she said. "Auburn will include business partners in every step, from the recruitment of students to work-based learning sites to employment sites."

The core team, which includes the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood, will meet regularly to measure progress and make any necessary adjustments to the classes.

The targeted outcome of the proposal is to provide accessible industry-recognized programming to 50 percent or more of the adults with developmental disabilities who graduated or exited school in 2020, 2021 and 2022, resulting in a successful career with higher wages and benefits than would have obtained without the programming, Rodewald noted.

"Success of this grant will be determined based on the number of students who find higher quality, competitive integrated employment and the number of new, inclusive employers who hire or promote students who earn credentials and begin apprenticeships," she said.

Once the grant has been completed, the school plans to continue to offer programming to students with developmental disabilities.

Officials said classes will range from ServSafe food handling to FANUC (Fuji Automatic Numerical Controls) Robotics and MIG welding to first aid and CPR, as well as pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship opportunities in manufacturing.

In addition to the Lake County Board of Developmental Disabilities/Deepwood, Auburn is also partnering with OhioMeansJobs Lake County, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, and students and their families.

For more information, contact Michelle Rodewald ( or call 440-357-7542, ext. 8159) or Assistant Director of Adult Workforce Dave Cowen ( or call 440-358-8028).