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  • Not-for-Profit of the Year: Vocational Training Center

  • Not-for-Profit of the Year: Vocational Training Center

    Not-for-Profit of the Year: Vocational Training Center

    The Vocational Training Center is a place where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can find support in achieving their life’s dreams and goals.

    Left to right: Steve Pederson and Scott Burtsfield

    In our community since the 1960s, they have been a leader in delivering strengths-based and solution-driven vocational and employment services. Deeply rooted in core values of integrity, individuality, respect and dedication, a range of services and programs create greater access to independence and affords these individuals choices and opportunities in society.

    Employment services include job coaching and worksite assistance, pre-vocational services teach soft-skills, and day habilitation offers basic life skills such as food preparation. Often, individuals will experience the full spectrum of programs offered. That’s part of the beauty surrounding the VTC, as there is a place for everybody, regardless their stage in life.

    The organization is experiencing incredible growth. In 2014, the organization supported approximately 54 individuals with various disabilities. Now, a few short years later, their numbers have over doubled to just over 140 individuals receiving services through the Vocational Training Center. Their staff, revenue and programming options have also grown right alongside the increase in those seeking services.

    In fact, they have grown so much that they purchased and renovated a building in south Fargo in 2016 to accommodate an expansion for therapeutic services and day habilitation for those that require a much higher level of care. This same facility serves as one of their hubs for community integration activities and volunteerism. "We have built something that people obviously want to be a part of," Executive Director Scott Burtsfield said of the new facility.

    Their newest program is called C.R.E.A.T.E. Internships (Career. Readiness. Education. And. Training. Experience.) and began just last year. This program is designed to link transition-aged men and women between 18 and 28 with significant barriers to employment to a competitive, integrated employment experience in an in-demand job in the area. The goal is to provide the necessary work-based training and experience to give the intern the best opportunity to find success in an integrated work environment that he or she enjoys. So far, they’ve been able to gain real work experience at a local mattress retailer, in information networking and graphic design.

    Partnerships are paramount to the Vocational Training Center, and they strive to give back to the communities that also support them. Burtsfield wrote in their award application that they believe that forming successful partnerships between non-profits, businesses and other entities, is key to improving their overall impact and achieving greater outcomes for the organization, their partners, our community and the individuals they serve.

    Just by bridging the gap with local businesses, they’ve already produced remarkable outcomes in employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Employees are incredible assets to the work environment, and make valuable contributions in our community.

    57 years after its founding, the Vocational Training Center continues to be a tireless advocate for their clients, offering them a much-needed voice and choice.

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