Summer Employment Academy

The Summer Employment Academy is a 4-week summer program in which high school students with Down syndrome have on-site career experiences along with in-class soft skills employment training. This program is open to any student with Down syndrome age 16-21 years. Class is held Monday to Thursday for 4 weeks during the summer at the VDSA office. Students are in-class two days per week and on a job site two days per week. The student rotates through 4 different job sites for an individualized and well-rounded career exploration experience. While at the job site, they practice the soft skills they are learning in class while working with a job coach. Class size is eight students with Down syndrome. Scholarships are available. For more information, contact Ame Branam at

Check out the 2021 Summer Employment Academy Video!

Check out the 2019 Summer Employment Academy Video!

Check out the 2018 Summer Employment Academy Video!


Transition to adulthood involves learning independence, employment, and self-advocacy skills. VDSA offers a series of programming to help youth with Down syndrome build these transition skills.

The Junior Volunteer Academy is for teens to learn skills important for future employment. Teens participate in a variety of volunteer experiences, make new friends, and give back to their community.

The Transition Boot camp offers sessions for parents and youth ages 13 to 21. The teen class is designed using the I’m Determined curriculum to practice self-determination skills all in a fun learning environment!

Throughout the year, VDSA offers other educationally enriching classes for youth. Recently, we partnered with Longwood University – Speech, Hearing and Learning Services to offer Teen Talk, a fun communication class led by SLP grad students.

Moving On: Road to Independence

Moving On! Road to Independence is a series of sessions designed to help adults with Down syndrome become independent members of their home. Past sessions focused on Money Management, Cooking Safety, Communicating with Confidence, Personal Awareness (LEAP) and a communication class with Longwood Speech.

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