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OLS National Network

National Replication

OLS: A Turn Key Model. Adults with cognitive disabilities in multiple communities across the nation are often under educated, unemployed or under employed.  Some individuals attempt community college and drop out after being unsuccessful.  Others are moving from one low paying job to another usually because the work culture is not understood.  Many are living at home with families unsure of the next steps in life.  OLS could be the answer!


This program gives adults with cognitive disabilities the opportunity to earn an associate degree, achieve gainful employment, and become self-sufficient contributing citizens.  It is the only program of it's kind in the nation and the outcomes are exemplary. Graduation employment rate is at 85%, compared to the national average of 26% with similar disabilities.  OLS at Bellevue College is  recognized nationally as a best-practice program and wants to share this success by working with like-minded entrepreneurial institutions to replicate OLS on their college campus.    


OLS Program Receives Innovation of the Year Award

Bellevue College’s innovative OLS (Occupational Life Skills) program continues to receive national recognition, being named one of the 2015 Innovation of the Year Award winners by The League for Innovation in the Community College. Awards were granted for outstanding innovations that serve community colleges and students.  Bellevue College’s OLS program was recognized in the category for Workforce Preparation and Development.

“Established over 30 years ago, the League’s Innovation of the Year competition was devised as a way to recognize significant innovations at Alliance member colleges,” according to the League’s website. “These innovations reflect capstone achievements and the continuing renewal of the spirit of innovation and experimentation upon which the League was founded. The award is designed to recognize faculty, staff, and administrators at member colleges who have created and implemented innovative programs, practices, partnerships, policies, and activities that improve the institution’s ability to serve students and the community.”

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Experience OLS Attendees

Experience OLS Attendees

OLS National Network wants to thank Aims Community College, Centralia College, Lewis and Clark Community College, Midlands Technical College, and Nicolet College for attending our first Experience OLS Conference! We were excited to explore with these colleges the possibility of replicating OLS on their college campuses.

Our next Experience OLS event is scheduled for October 7th & 8th, 2015. Click HERE if you’re interested in learning more. 

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NWACC Receives State Approval

 Northwest Arkansas Community College received state approval Friday for a program to help people with cognitive disabilities.

The occupational and life skills program is expected to begin at the college this fall with 14 students. The goal is to help those with cognitive disabilities learn keys to success in the workplace and achieve a level of independence.

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OLS College Program Goes National

Bellevue College’s Occupational Life Skills program offers training and an associate’s degree for students with learning disabilities. Since December of 2006, BC has been offering the OLS program to students in the Bellevue community. The program helps students develop their pathway, expand their interpersonal skills, volunteer in their community and participate in internships.

Recently two other schools, the Lone Star College in Houston, Texas, and the Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville have explored creating OLS programs of their own to provide opportunities for education to more people within their community. Both schools will be running pilot programs in the fall.

BC’s OLS National Director Marci Muhlestein said “we are giving other colleges an opportunity to replicate this program and have the same successes, which means more adults employed around the nation."

Continue reading HERE

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Lone Star College

Lone Star College to Replicate OLS

Lone Star College is developing a new associate degree for Occupational and Life Skills (OLS) to serve an often overlooked and underserved student population – those with cognitive disabilities.

To kick off the OLS Program, LSC is holding an open forum town hall meeting to gather input and insight directly from community members. The Open Forum will be held Thursday, Feb. 19, 6:30-7:30 p.m. in the Teaching Theatre (E-100) at LSC-Tomball. LSC plans to pilot the OLS program at LSC-Tomball this fall.

“We want to hear directly from residents what the needs are, and their ideas and suggestions about how to best serve students with cognitive disabilities and learn differently than others,” said Dr. Lee Ann Nutt, president of LSC-Tomball. “Our goal is to include members of our community – individuals as well as businesses – as active partners in the OLS Program.”

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Where should OLS be next?

Are you a potential student, parent, educator or professional that would like OLS to be replicated in your area? Please send us an e-mail including where you are located and why OLS would be a great addition in your area of the country.  Your requests will assist us in locating the next higher education institution to replicate OLS! OLSNational@bellevuecollege.edu