Independent Living

Independent Living

NextWork Reserves Ten Apartments at the Hub of Opportunity for Students who are Ready for Independent Living

INDEPENDENT LIVING CLASSES: At Columbus NextWork, our group classes teach students a variety of skills needed to be a successful adult with increased independence. Whether a student is already living on their own or has just finished high school and wants to prepare to move out, these classes help students become more aware of what adulthood is and teach students how to build resilience so that they can face the challenges of transitioning into adulthood. Classes change each quarter (every three months), with a curriculum designed to cover six core concepts and are geared toward observed need in the current group of students. Any student who wants to join these classes may join up to 3 weeks after the class starts (limit 10-12 students per class). 

Each term is 3 months long and coincides with fiscal quarters. (e.g. Jan. Feb. Mar. = 1 quarter) The 3-5 classes are usually taught in the evening so that students who work during the day may attend and are held in the NextWork classroom. These classes include three portions—learning, practicing, and individualizing. For an updated schedule for the current term, or the approaching term, visit our blog, which is updated monthly. 

Job Readiness classes are taught one-on-one and focus on skills needed to prepare for work in the community. Job Readiness classes are scheduled one-on-one with an assigned instructor, and may be in person or over zoom, depending on instructor availability and the needs of the client. These classes may be included in a Vocational Rehabilitation Individualized Employment Plan. If you are a Vocational Rehabilitation client, talk about this with your counselor. 

We also have opportunities for students to learn how to work. Our Learn to Work program is ideal for students who have never had a job, or who have been out of the workforce for a while. These students (based on job availability) work at Columbus or with one of our various contracted partners in the community. Columbus staff are on site to support them in developing work skills such as attendance, communication with their supervisors, navigating transportation, and being accountable at the workplace. NextWork staff check in weekly with their supervisors, and as students demonstrate their ability to work in this setting, as they gain confidence and see more skills in themselves, they can begin looking for a job in the community. With the aid of benefits counselling, we encourage students to aim for full-time benefitted work whenever possible, as this is what we need to live independently in our society. 

CORE SUBJECTS: The six core subjects are Self-Management, Living on my Own, Financial Literacy, Health, Hygiene and Nutrition, Relationships, and Employment.

Self-Management – this core subject focuses on skills needed to manage thoughts, emotions, and behavior. These skills are key to being a successful adult and are perhaps the most important skills we teach. This topic includes Executive Function, Cognitive Behavioral Techniques, and self-care through mindfulness and meditation. 

Health, Hygiene, and Nutrition – Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. Students may not recognize it, but their personal hygiene is vital to good health as well. 

Financial Literacy – Learn about problem-solving with money, budgeting, saving, protecting your information, and creating a personal financial plan. 

Living on my Own – this core topic includes everything from keeping your apartment clean to being a good neighbor and being safe in the community. Learning to live on your own includes making your own doctor appointments, refilling your own medications, completing your annual Medicaid review, and self-advocating in difficult situations. We also teach that living on your own doesn’t mean you never ask for help-rather it means you know where to go to find trusted people or organizations to help you. 

Relationships – We all live in a community, and that means being aware of how you affect those around you, your identity, and how you contribute to your community. 

Employment – Our employment curriculum emphasizes the importance of employment on many levels. This is the primary way that we all contribute to the community. Every job is important, and a career isn’t built overnight. We teach our students to be realistic about employment and use their existing skills to work hard and work their way up to jobs that better fit their desires. First, fit your needs. 

LIFE SKILLS COACHING: This service is the ultimate in individualized instruction. Our Life-Skills coaches take the curriculum taught in our classes and help students set individualized goals to prepare for independence. These goals may include meal planning, cooking, cleaning, learning to communicate with health professionals, starting college or a vocational training program, or even following through on goals set with your therapist to improve your mental health. 

TRAINING APARTMENTS: NextWork also has ten training apartments for students who are ready to take the leap and try out their own apartment. Living in a training apartment requires that residents participate in all facets of the program. They attend all classes held when they are not scheduled to work, they meet with a life-skills coach every week, and they must meet program requirements for employment. Students may be unemployed when they move in, but they must be employed within three months of their move, and they will need to be able to pay rent regardless of their employment status. Once they are employed, rent is calculated based on their income and regular financial support from parents (minimum $300). Other fees are rolled into one participation fee, charged quarterly, which includes classes, coaching and employment services. These fees are calculated according to the number of hours a student works each week. When unemployed or part-time employed students are not working, they are expected to engage in what is called “guided work.” These are goal-related tasks assigned and/or chosen by staff and the student. Time in guided work is overseen by NextWork staff, and students must meet agreed-upon requirements to earn participation points. Residents must maintain 80% participation to be in good standing with their lease. Those who don’t maintain 80% participation may be put on probation or they may lose their lease. Students are invited to apply for these apartments and undergo an extensive application process to be chosen by a selection committee. It is highly advised that those who are interested in the apartments take classes first. Recruiting for apartments will only happen when none of the enrolled, non-resident students are a good fit for the program. 


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3848 South West Temple | Suite 107

Salt Lake City, Utah, 84115