Higher Ed Grants Coming Soon

February 22, 2024

Aiming to boost college options for Minnesota students with intellectual disability, the Institute on Community Integration’s new Inclusive Higher Education Technical Assistance (TA) Center is collaborating with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education  as it implements a competitive grant process this spring. The grants will provide up to $1.425 million in the first two years of the program (fiscal years 2024 and 2025) to eligible Minnesota higher education institutions that create or enhance postsecondary education programs providing meaningful credentials upon graduation to students with intellectual disability.

“Universities want to increase enrollment of students from diverse backgrounds, and there is nobody more excluded from higher education than people with intellectual disability and people with disability of any kind, for that matter,” said ICI Director Amy Hewitt.

Established by state statute in the 2023 legislative session, the TA Center is coordinating and providing expertise on Minnesota’s inclusive higher education opportunities and providing information to students with intellectual disability and their families, educators, and state agency staff. It is also collaborating with state education officials on the grant program. Mary Hauff, director of ICI’s Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (MIHEC), is director of the new TA Center.

“We’re optimistic about the enthusiasm we’ve seen thus far for bringing substantially more opportunities for higher education in Minnesota for students with intellectual disability,” Hauff said. “There are a number of colleges and universities that are, in fact, now pursuing inclusive higher ed initiatives on their campuses. And in conversations with the existing programs, we know there is interest in improving and expanding their offerings.”

The TA Center will support colleges and universities to design, implement, and evaluate post-secondary education programs consistent with Minnesota standards that are best-practice, research-informed, and aligned with national accreditation standards.

“They will be truly inclusive programs, where students are part of the fabric of college life and not segregated to separate programs that are limited to teaching life skills,” Hewitt said.

About 1,000 Minnesota students with intellectual disability (ID) complete 12th grade each year, and there are about 5,000 students with ID who are college age. Minnesota’s capacity, however, is limited to about 90 students per year because just three colleges and universities out of more than 200 are designated as Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary programs.

The TA Center builds on work ICI began through MIHEC, establishing learning community and community of practice events to bring parents, educators, and others together to re-imagine higher education for people with intellectual disability in the state.

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