Start on Success

Start on Success, often referred to as SOS, is a highly structured school-to-work program. It is designed to provide work-based learning activities specifically for at-risk students with disabilities pursuing a standard or advanced studies diploma. Through classroom instruction and a paid internship in the community, the goals of this program are to:

  • assist students to discover interests, abilities, and increase career potential
  • build stronger relationships between schools, students, families, service providers, and the business community
  • better prepare students for the workforce and postsecondary education

Since its inception in 1994 by the National Organization on Disability, the SOS model has been implemented in over a dozen cities around the US and has served more than 4,000 students. Students who participate in SOS continue on to postsecondary employment or education at a rate of 75-85 percent, which is three times higher than the overall rate for students with disabilities. In Virginia, SOS is being implemented in various school divisions across the state in collaboration with CTI, the Virginia Department of Education, and the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.


National Organization on Disability developed Start on Success in 1994 and provided seed money to a dozen programs across the nation. Archived information about the program and lessons learned are available.

Humanim partners with Vocational Rehabilitation, local school divisions, and multiple employers to provide Start on Success opportunities for Baltimore area youth.

Pittsburgh Public Schools has been implementing Start on Success since 1995 as part of a three year transition program to prepare youth for competitive employment after graduation.

Success Stories

Richmond Public Schools (RPS) began implementing SOS during the 2016-2017 school year. VCU News highlighted RPS' interns in the May 31, 2017 issue. Read the article.