Signature  Career Development-Based Programs

We offer  our Signature Career Development-Based Programs once a year:

Spring 2020 Session 

  • GiGi Prep: March 17 – April 23   

We’re exciting to be partnering with the St Ambrose University Occupational Therapy program this year! GiGi Prep will take place at Jim’s Place which is located on the St Ambrose Campus. It will be overseen by the college instructors and students. 

Applications accepted January 1st - January 15th 

For more information regarding the Signature Career Development-Based Programs offered at GiGi’s Playhouse Quad Cities, please contact the Playhouse at 309-762-7529 or 

The GiGi’s Career Development Programs are progressive learning programs. They are designed to motivate adults with Down syndrome to achieve their highest potential in the world through innovative, educational, goal-development and small group skills instruction, health and wellness, career skills, empowerment, community engagement and exceptional work opportunities. GiGi’s Playhouse offers a three-tiered career development program that prepares adults with Down syndrome to gain meaningful employment/volunteerism in their respective communities. Social focus is to help communities gain a stronger understanding that promotes an environment of inclusion and acceptance for individuals with Down syndrome. To remove potential barriers for our families, participation in these programs is at NO COST to our participants. GiGi’s Career Development Programs have various positive impacts on adults with Down syndrome and on the community at large. Every interaction and friendly conversation reminds the community that stereotypes and discrimination toward people with Down syndrome must change. In doing so, more employers will seriously consider hiring ready and willing candidates with Down syndrome allowing communities, companies and people to grow stronger together. Recommended for adults with Down syndrome age 18 and up. 



  • Increase self-confidence:  The GiGi U learning program is an environment where each lesson promotes communication skills, self-advocacy and personal accountability through goal-oriented activities.  These activities help to significantly improve meaningful family, friend and community interactions as well as further promoting independence. 
  • Increase career skill knowledge:   GiGi U teaches students appropriate and proactive work place behaviors by applying best practices in areas of customer service and team building. Students participate in community projects to apply their skills by volunteering to better prepare for work opportunities. 
  • Increase personal wellness:   Through physical fitness, nutrition and safety awareness training, GiGi U students gain a stronger sense of the importance of remaining active and making choices that promote and sustain a lifelong healthy lifestyle. 
  • Increased  quality of life:  GiGi U provides a hands on, multi-sensory learning environment to help students live a well-rounded, healthy, confident and fully enriching life.  Depending less on those around them and by promoting their voice, students improved their presence inside and out of the GiGi’s community. 


GiGi Prep Programs

GiGi Prep programs are progressive learning program for adults, compromised of modular programs that meet multiple times each week for 6-10 weeks in length that encompass Confident U, Healthy U, and Whole U.  

GiGi Prep    Our GiGi Prep program has an emphasis on building communication skills, money management, customer service skills, team building and wellness. This program is an application based program with high expectations to motivate adults with Down syndrome.  GiGi’s Prep is designed for individuals aspiring to enroll in our GiGi University program and continue on the career development path to participant in the GiGi University Internship Program. However a participant may need repetition of this course before moving on. Adults will meet with a program leader prior to start of the program for an interview. Recommended for ages 18+.  


GiGi University 

GiGi University (GiGi U)–  A comprehensive and progressive learning program tailored specifically for adults with Down syndrome compromised of a 15-week instructional program. GiGi U is designed to motivate adults with Down syndrome to achieve their highest potential in the real world while developing their abilities in the areas of wellness, communication and career skills with emphasis on job interviewing, communication skills, money management, public speaking, customer service, computer skills, team building and wellness. The ideal candidate will be highly goal-oriented and motivated to achieve a new level of personal success.  GiGi U is application and interview-based. Participants will be asked to meet with the program leader prior to class and will be provided with expectations for commitment to the program.  Upon successful completion of the GiGi U program and with their new preparedness and drive to succeed, graduates then move on to our live retail environment within the career studio as interns. The skills gained at GiGi U will resonate with graduates throughout their careers.  


Career Studio 

GiGi Professional – Whether it’s a retail environment, a design studio, a production space, or an office, GiGi’s career internship programs build on the skills learned in GiGi U with practical applications and the achievement of certifications. During each individual with Down syndromes 13-week internship they will purposefully progress through certifications learning and demonstrating strengths and interests in transferable job skills, building their resume for placement in a job or volunteer position in the community. Pre-req: GiGi U.

Hugs & Mugs –  Hugs + Mugs is a café and retail store run by our GiGi Professional participants along with our support staff and volunteers. Each will manage different aspects of a real-life retail environment.  Hugs & Mugs creates gifts from the heart: personalized mugs printed with artwork and photos-your design or ours-you choose!  GiGi Professional interns are involved in running ALL aspects of the business-design, production, food prep, baking, packaging, and customer service. Visit our site at:

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