Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All!

Woman reading to a child that is in a wheelchair


The U.S. Department of Labor announced more than $69 million in funding opportunities to support the development of innovative strategies that will help youth and young adults with disabilities transition to the workforce successfully. Applications are due by Oct. 31.

New Symposium Series

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services hosted the first session for the 2023-2024 OSERS Symposium Series virtually on October 25, 2023.

The first session in this series "Belonging: Building and Sustaining Environments that Support High Expectations, Engagement, and Empowerment for All!" focused on the importance of building a sense of belonging for children, youth, and young adults with disabilities in school, college, and workplace settings.

Participants heard from Valerie Williams, Director of the Office of Special Education; Carol Dobak, Commissioner, Rehabilitation Services Administration; Dr. Erick Carter, Ph.D. Baylor University, Luther Sweet Endowed Chair in Disabilities; Hunter Steinitz, Youth Engagement Specialist as well as several panels all focusing on belonging. 


As young adults prepare to move from school to postsecondary education, community living, and competitive integrated employment, effective transition planning can help them become independent, productive adults. Identifying the challenges children and youth will face as adults and preparing and assisting them to meet those demands successfully requires careful transition planning. Beginning at the earliest ages, it becomes imperative to balance realism of current levels of performance and functioning with high expectations for future possible successes and achievements. It is important to begin the transition planning process early to allow time for planning and accessing the support services needed in the future. The Supreme Court's decision in Endrew F v. Douglas County clarified that IDEA requires progress toward challenging objectives in light of the child's circumstances.  Therefore, families and practitioners must raise their expectations beyond the student just getting by academically and functionally. 

New Blog Series

A cohesive secondary transition planning strategy can improve postsecondary education and employment outcomes for students with disabilities. A New OSERS Blog Series supplements OSERS' Expect, Engage, Empower: Successful Transitions for All Initiative. Check back often for updates.

Valerie WilliamsAn Important Message from OSEP Director, Valerie C. Williams

During this inspiring video message, Director Williams talks about the importance of readying students with disabilities for lifelong success and introduces the Expect, Engage, and Empower initiative. 

Successful Transitions for All: Expect, Engage, Empower LogoNew Initiative To Improve Postsecondary Outcomes for Students With Disabilities

In support of Secretary Cardona’s mission to improve equity across our nation’s schools, Director Williams is pleased to announce a new initiative to improve postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities: Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All!

This initiative will challenge the field to join OSERS to raise expectations, engage families earlier, and empower all who support transition services to measurably and significantly improve postsecondary outcomes for children and youth with disabilities and their families. Every family that has an infant, child, or youth identified with a disability must be exposed to high expectations from day one. In order for improvement to occur, three things must happen:

  • The education and vocational rehabilitation systems must work together,
  • Critical discussions about the future and transition planning process must start sooner, and
  • ALL students with disabilities should have the opportunity to learn about all post-secondary opportunities and make the best choice for themselves.

Our systems should be prepared to make their vision a reality by providing information about any needed support services, and proactively address needs.

Kickoff Webinar

On May 10, 2023 OSERS conducted its kickoff webinar for the Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All! initiative, which featured perspectives from families, practitioners, and system change experts involved in transition for children and youth with disabilities.  The event was moderated by OSEP Director Valerie Williams and included remarks and discussion about the inherent challenges associated with successful transitions and the strategies and approaches to address those challenges to improve transition practices for students and families at all ages.  Click on the image below to watch the webinar.

View Webinar

Additional Resources 

Below you will find the link to the Expect, Empower, Engage Database.  You will be able to search this database for resources that were shared related to the Kickoff Event, as well as from the Symposia Series.  

OSERS logo

Featured Resource

A Transition Guide: To Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities

This guide was designed to help students and youth with disabilities and their families to better understand how the SEA, the LEA, and the VR agency work together to facilitate improved outcomes for students and youth with disabilities.