Torus is currently available for New York City. Tell us to come to your city next

Age 18-25
Program type Summer
Specific needs

Mental health

Contact us Sae@Ramapoforchildren.Org


At the heart of our work is the conviction that all children seek the same things: to learn, feel valued, and experience success. Ramapo helps young people learn to align their behaviors with their aspirations.


A year-round, residential transition-to-independence program which helps young adults move on to college and employment.

The Staff Assistant Experience (SAE) is a residential transition-to-independence program for young adults with social, emotional, or learning challenges. The program offers participants an opportunity to practice vocational and life skills in a communal setting that includes typically developing coworkers and peer role models. Participants improve and reinforce interpersonal, independent living, and job skills; build resilience and self-determination; and develop a “future orientation.”

Based at Ramapo for Children’s beautiful Rhinebeck campus, the program is designed for young adults ages 18 to 25 who:

seek increased self-sufficiency
are interested in exploring college coursework, employment opportunities, and independent living
are navigating learning differences, Asperger’s/high-functioning autism/NVLD/PDD, or ADHD
can benefit from a structured program which offers coaching on life skills (healthy eating habits, physical fitness, organization, time management, meal planning and preparation, budgeting, laundry, hygiene/grooming, housekeeping, etc.)
need support and supervision to develop a social network and manage free time
SAE offers a summer program (mid-June-mid August) and a school year program, with most young adults participating for nine months to one year. During their time in SAE, Staff Assistants are immersed in Ramapo’s thriving Rhinebeck campus community, which includes a sleep-away summer camp for children with special needs, a year-round retreat program serving over 8,000 people annually, and a cohort of residential staff with whom they interact frequently.

Each Staff Assistant is matched with a mentor, job coaches, and a roommate who is a Ramapo staff member trained to meet their needs. These individuals collaborate with SAE staff to deliver a highly individualized program consisting of on-campus work experience, one-on-one and small group coaching, seminars and group discussions and recreational activities and outings.

What Makes the Staff Assistant Experience Unique?

The opportunity to live and work alongside peer role models
Ramapo staff receive extensive training and supervision on the challenges that Staff Assistants face, and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to build caring and productive relationships with them. Each Staff Assistant is matched with a mentor who meets with them at least once each week to celebrate their successes, listen to their concerns, provide guidance for problem-solving, and encourage self-advocacy. Staff Assistants also have one or more job coaches who orient them to work tasks, help them establish structures and routines to accommodate their needs, perform tasks with them, and offer daily feedback on their performance and attitude. Additionally, each Staff Assistant lives with or next to a staff member who serves as a resource, a companion, and a model for independent living skills.

Meaningful work experience within a community focused on service to youth
The Rhinebeck campus hosts a sleep-away summer camp for children with special needs and a retreat program for school groups and other youth development program, both of which generate work tasks in a variety of areas. Staff Assistants can choose from a variety of interesting and rewarding roles which support Ramapo’s work directly or indirectly, such as:

Learning to lead experiential education activities for youth
Acquiring culinary and hospitality skills by preparing and serving meals in Ramapo’s dining hall
Caring for farm animals in Ramapo’s corral
Learning carpentry, painting, landscaping, and basic repairs with Ramapo’s maintenance team
Gaining customer service and clerical skills in Ramapo’s main office
At Ramapo, we believe that all young people want the same things: to learn, to feel valued, and to experience success. Ramapo works to help them align their behaviors with their aspirations, and this concept forms the common thread through all of our programs. While working with Staff Assistants, Ramapo staff are able draw on their personal experience with the process of establishing goals, working with mentors and supervisors, and engaging in personal reflection in order to support Staff Assistants. In turn, Staff Assistants are members of an organization with strongly held and shared values. At Ramapo, young adults gain an understanding of the goals of Ramapo’s programs and their capacity to benefit youth, and Staff Assistants are proud of their ability to contribute positively to a community that is making a difference, all while learning transferable job skills.

Highly individualized programming with an aspirational arc
The goal of the Staff Assistant Experience is to help young adults with disabilities become more independent. Since each participant comes to us with different strengths and interests, Ramapo works exceptionally hard to craft a program for each individual that addresses specific job skills, social-emotional skills, independent living skills, and learning skills. After some time to get to know each Staff Assistant and establish goals which are shared with families, a program is designed for each individual consisting of skillbuilding workshops, mentoring, coaching, and on-campus work experience. Staff Assistants have the opportunity to choose from supplementary experiences, such as:

Participation in off-campus volunteer work
Enrollment in Ramapo’s summer fieldwork course in Special Education (worth up to 9 undergraduate credits)
Enrollment in online college classes or classes at either Dutchess Community College or Ulster Community College
Participation in off-campus social, spiritual, and recreational activities (exercise classes, involvement in a church/synagogue, intramural sports teams, etc.)
Staff Assistants’ goals are reevaluated periodically, and the SAE team communicates frequently with families to stay on track with long-term goals and modify the program when necessary. Once a Staff Assistant has demonstrated an ability to be successful in on-campus work experience, Ramapo will explore work experiences in the Hudson Valley that have the potential to lead to a paid position. Staff Assistants also have the opportunity to move into housing which offers them more independence and responsibility as they display more maturity and less need for supervision. Ramapo makes a point of keeping in touch with program alumni and continues to serve as a resource for families after Staff Assistants complete the program.


The Program Is Designed For Young Adults Ages 18 To 25 Who: Seek Increased Self-Sufficiency Are Interested In Exploring College Coursework, Employment Opportunities, And Independent Living Are Navigating Learning Differences, Asperger’S/High-Functioning Autism/Nvld/Pdd, Or Adhd Can Benefit From A Structured Program Which Offers Coaching On Life Skills (Healthy Eating Habits, Physical Fitness, Organization, Time Management, Meal Planning And Preparation, Budgeting, Laundry, Hygiene/Grooming, Housekeeping, Etc.) Need Support And Supervision To Develop A Social Network And Manage Free Time

How to apply

Sign up or Log in to access application instructions.