The H.E.A.R.T. Program provides education, job-training and jobs to low-income adults with developmental disabilities who reside within the city limits of Houston, Texas.

The H.E.A.R.T. Program trains adults in skills needed to maintain any kind of employment, and we place a primary emphasis on skills utilized in the vending and concessions industries.

  • Life Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Job Readiness
  • Hands-on training
  • On The Job Training
  • Community Based Instruction
  • Repetitive practices utilizing mock concession stands and vending machines
  • Basic food handling

Participants will be included in a wide range or activities in order to assess their abilities and challenge them to learn new skills.  Some examples of the range of activities offered include:

  • Basic food service skills
  • Basic service and machine repair
  • Beginning cash handling
  • Cashiering
  • Counting and batching
  • Customer service
  • Identifying and differentiating products
  • Inventory skills
  • Labeling
  • Loading and unloading of machines
  • Mentoring and supervision skills
  • Recognizing sizes, shapes and colors
  • Sorting

Understanding the need for specialized training, The H.E.A.R.T. Program utilizes a curriculum specifically developed for this program that is overseen by State Certified Teachers that are also State Certified in Special Education.  Additional training is provided by instructors, training aides and other highly qualified personnel in the program.  All training is overseen by the Director of Programs.

A grant-funded program is available which makes the program available at no cost to the majority of participants, depending on eligibility.  Other funding options are available as well.  Please contact the Director of Programs to inquire about whether you or your family member would qualify.

The H.E.A.R.T. facility is open for participants to be dropped off starting at 8:00am and picked up no later than 5:00pm, Monday through Thursday. Participants CANNOT be dropped-off before 8:00am without prior approval by the Director of Programs. At no time can an applicant be left at the facility without supervision. All participants MUST be picked-up by 5:00pm.

Additionally, H.E.A.R.T. participants will be scheduled for many off-site training and employment opportunities.  These typically occur on weekends and/or evenings.  It is important that individuals in the program be available to participate in these activities as these are activities which prepare the participants for future employment.  The days , hours and locations of these opportunities will vary throughout the year.

H.E.A.R.T. offers an individualized training concept. The length of the initial instruction before the trainee begins to earn wages for their participation depends on the individual’s ability to grasp the necessary skills needed to perform at the vending and concession events. After this occurs, trainees continue to receive on-going training, helping them to reinforce and master the skills that they have learned as well as helping them to develop additional skills training.

Participants may remain in the programs for as long as deemed appropriate.

No, there is no cost to enroll in the program.  H.E.A.R.T. does not charge an application fee, there is no fee to come and take a tour, and there is no fee to enroll.

However, there are costs associated with becoming a H.E.A.R.T. Program trainee. When participating in the vending and concession events, each trainee is required to possess the following:

  • Black non-skid shoes
  • Black socks
  • Dickies flat front, khaki pants
  • Dickies flat front, black pants
  • Plain, black belt
  • Standard white t-shirt

No. It is the responsibility of the applicant and the guardian to get the applicant to the H.E.A.R.T. facility. Once there, the program provides some transportation to and from the On the Job Training (OJT) sites. We do offer referrals to METROLift and public transportation to help trainees arrange the necessary transportation.

No, meals are not provided. The H.E.A.R.T. Program does require trainees to have a specific meal packed in order to participate in certain events. For example, when participating in vending activities trainees are required to pack a cold lunch (i.e. sandwich). This is because trainees will most probably be participating in their vending runs through the lunch period and will have to eat their lunch at one of the job sites.

Additionally, the venues where we work do not offer program participants free food at concession events.

Yes.  At no times will the applicants be unsupervised within the H.E.A.R.T. facility or OJT.

No. As we have a limited number of grant funded slots available, we want to fill them with applicants that can attend the program full-time.   For any special arrangements, you must speak with the Director of Programs.

The H.E.A.R.T. Program has four basic eligibility requirements.  These are the requirements to participate in the grant-funded program:

  • Must be over the age of 18
  • Must be living within the city limits of Houston
  • Must be eligible for Medicaid
  • Must have a medical diagnosis with a developmental disability
  • Must be ambulatory
  • Must be able to self medicate (or take medications outside of program hours)
  • Must possess a willingness to work

The applicant must prove they are low-income according to the standards of The H.E.A.R.T. Program grant. If the applicant is receiving any federal benefits such as Food Stamps, SSI, SSD, or Medicaid, they most likely will qualify.

Not generally, but each case will be evaluated on an individual basis.

According to the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act) of 2000 (P.L.) 106-402), a developmental disability is defined as: (A) IN GENERAL The term developmental disability means a severe, chronic disability of an individual that: i.

Is attributed to a mental impairment or condition of mental and physical impairment; ii. Is manifested before the individual attains age 22; iii. Is likely to continue indefinitely; iv. Results in substantial functional limitations in three or more of the following areas of major life activity: a) Self-care; b) Receptive and expressive language; c) Learning; d) Mobility; e) Self-direction; f) Capacity for independent living; and g) Economic self- sufficiency; and v. Reflects the individuals need of a combination and sequence of special, interdisciplinary, or generic services, individualized supports, or other forms of assistance that are lifelong or extended duration and are individually planned and coordinated. (B) INFANTS AND YOUNG CHILDREN An Individual from birth to age 9, inclusive, who has a substantial developmental delay or specific congenital or acquired condition, may be considered to have a developmental disability without meeting 3 or more of the criteria described in clauses (i) through (v) of subparagraph (A) if the individual, without services and supports, has a high probability of meeting those later in life.

We will need a written medical diagnosis from the applicant’s physician. Additionally, we can also accept a DMR, psychological evaluation, or a school ARD.

No.   Tours of H.E.A.R.T. are encouraged so that you can see the environment where the program will occur, but are not required at the application stage.  First, fully read and understand the frequently asked questions section and make sure that you will be able to present all necessary documentation at an initial meeting. Then, read and complete the application found on the link provided under the website’s Apply section. If your application is completed in its entirety and meets all of the aforementioned requirements, you will be contacted and an initial meeting will be setup to discuss the next steps for enrollment into The H.E.A.R.T. Program.

No, the applicant must first have an initial meeting at The H.E.A.R.T. Program facility to be assessed by the Director of Programs. If both the applicant and the Director of Programs agree to participation, an enrollment packet will need to be completed. Once all documents have been submitted and approved, the applicant will then be able to commence the training program at the H.E.A.R.T. facility.

Currently, there is a short-term waiting list for enrollment into the program – usually averaging a month’s wait between the successful completion of the application, presentation of the necessary documentation, and the initial meeting, and the participants start date in the program. We do anticipate there to be a waiting list in the near future for the grant funded slots. There are thousands of adults with developmental disabilities within the area that qualify for this program and we are unfortunately unable to accommodate everyone through our grant funding limitations. Efforts are being made to secure additional grant funding in order to accommodate more participants.