Universidad Viña del Mar (UVM), a vibrant and diverse community of over 8,000 students, 900 faculty, and 500 staff in Valparaiso, Chile, is a shining example of the Here for Good spirit in action.
Core to UVM’s mission is a commitment to inclusion. In 2012, the university received a government grant to implement and develop the Yo Quiero Trabajar (I Want to Work) initiative, a holistic program designed to integrate and help develop autonomy and independence in a group of young people with social and learning disabilities and ultimately, provide them with meaningful part-time employment. The program beneficiaries are low-income young adults with down syndrome, moderate intellectual deficiencies, and from low-income families.
Through workshops, personalized sessions, and real-world simulations, UVM faculty, students, and staff help participants develop social and workplace skills, as well as provide them with vocational training to prepare them for the workforce. The beneficiaries also receive specialized speech and sound therapy sessions to improve their reading and writing skills, and cognitive abilities. Additionally, the program works with their parents and families to help them understand and participate in their children’s transition to independence, and with members of the university community to raise awareness through diversity and inclusion education.
The five employees who went through the Yo Quiero Trabajar initiative now have part-time jobs in UVM campuses in the areas of student affairs, human resources, and rectory among others and receive the full range of UVM benefits and wages. In a recent survey among the group’s colleagues, over 90% stated “their colleague’s work is valuable,” and the initiative “had a positive impact on students and the work environment.”
Now that UVM has worked to overcome the initial challenges of starting this initiative, it is working to scale and are share their lessons learned and best practices with other local and network institutions. The successful implementation and scaling of the Yo Quiero Trabajar initiative is a wonderful example of the commitment of UVM and the Laureate network to inclusion, while being Here for Good in the communities we serve across the world.