Rutgers University Center for Effective School Practices (CESP) becomes Chief External Evaluator of the EDGE Program for Blind and Visually Impaired Students

The Rutgers University Center for Effective School Practices (CESP) is excited to announce its role as the external evaluator for the Employment, Development, Guidance, and Engagement (EDGE) program, a partnership between The Arc, Ocean County Chapter, and the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI). The EDGE initiative aims to empower 120 blind and visually impaired students by facilitating their transition into independent living and career development.

Gregory Makely, the Director of Arc, Ocean County, shares his thoughts about and passion for the work ahead, stating, “We’ve been excited to assist blind and vision-impaired high school and college students in adopting a career-focused approach to taking responsibility for their lives in many areas. In many cases, before entering our program, they felt isolated and alone. So, it’s also thrilling to see them gain the confidence to be themselves and develop relationships with peers, mentors, staff, employers, and the world around them in general.”

The EDGE program is structured into two distinct phases: EDGE 1.0, which is geared towards high school students and includes a series of Saturday workshops focusing on interpersonal development, college preparation, financial literacy, and more; and EDGE 2.0, designed for college students, offering online classes and dedicated college advisors to help students assimilate into college life in a career-focused manner. Both phases are strengthened by the invaluable insights and guidance from former EDGE enrollees who now serve as staff and mentors, providing a unique perspective to current participants. “Very few jobs allow staffers to feel the sense of accomplishment our staff is privileged to benefit from, and we’re looking forward to working with Rutgers to move this work forward,” Makely shares.

In its evaluative capacity, Rutgers CESP will closely collaborate with the EDGE program’s stakeholders to assess its efficacy and impact. This comprehensive evaluation will involve detailed reviews of program implementation, mentor and staff engagements, student achievements, and overall outcomes. CESP is excited about this partnership and is eager to contribute its evaluative expertise to a program that is making a profound difference in the lives of blind and visually impaired youth.