Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance Holds Third Annual Capacity Building Institute at Vanderbilt University (TN UCEDD, IDDRC, LEND)

July 28, 2017

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN UCEDD, IDDRC, LEND) and Next Steps at Vanderbilt hosted the third annual Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance (SEPSEA) Capacity Building Institute on June 26-27, 2017.

The annual event was created to collaborate around the support, creation and expansion of inclusive postsecondary education programs (IPSE). IPSE is a national movement to support students with intellectual disabilities in attending college. The movement is based on the premise that disability does not diminish an individual's capacity to continue learning, to work and to contribute to their communities. Currently approximately 260 colleges and universities across the country have developed programs.
The two-day agenda drew more than 165 students, professionals, and family members representing 36 colleges and universities, from 33 Southeastern states to Vanderbilt's campus. Six University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) were represented at the event; the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (TN), Center for Disability Resources (SC), Institute on Human Development and Disability (GA), Carolina Institute on Developmental Disabilities (NC), Institute for Disability Studies (MS), and Center for Leadership in Disability (GA).

Included in the more than 32 professional and student breakout sessions, an update from Think College on the national landscape of IPSE by Debra Hart, a panel of student voices from IPSE programs around Tennessee, and a keynote by Vanderbilt's Dr. Erik Carter. The Institute came to a close with a riveting presentation by guest speaker David DeSanctis, an actor who was in the film "Where Hope Grows."
"I am so thrilled that SEPSEA has grown from an idea into an organization with a moving regional conference. With the growth of IPSE across the nation, creating a regional alliance was the next logical step. We have so much great energy and momentum in the Southeast, and It's exciting to share with each other," said Susanna Miller-Raines, SEPSEA Board Chair.

"We were honored to host the SEPSEA Capacity Building Institute this summer," said Tammy Day, Next Steps at Vanderbilt director. "It is quite breathtaking to consider that in three short years this annual conference has attracted enough interest to have representatives from 36 different universities. I think this speaks directly to the momentum inclusive postsecondary education expansion has in our region. This also aligns with the fact that nine of the 26 federal 2015 TPSID grants were awarded to states in the southeast. Interest in providing these educational opportunities are coming from a multitude of stakeholders, and we are thrilled to have opportunities like this to network and learn from one another."

Peabody College at Vanderbilt is the home of Next Steps at Vanderbilt, an inclusive postsecondary education program that accepted their first class of students in 2010. Seven classes of students have since graduated with their certificates and proudly report an 86% completive employment rate for these alums. A 2015 TPSID recipient, the programming is expanding to a 4-year program with residential plans.
SEPSEA promotes resource development, collaboration, peer-to-peer education, and access to quality IPSE opportunities in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia & beyond.

To learn more about the Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance, visit

The CLD is one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities funded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities of the Administration on Community Living (USDHHS). It is housed within the Center for Healthy Development and the School of Public Health. The center serves as a bridge between university and community in support of effective practices that improve the lives of people with disabilities and their families. CLD educates current and future advocates and professionals, develops innovative supports and services, promotes systems change, conducts research, and disseminates information.