Propel offers students a look at college and employment
UMKC Institute for Human Development, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and Department of Psychology received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to create a high-quality, inclusive, model program for college students with intellectual disabilities.
As part of the Propel Program, there is an introductory course offered to high school students called Bridge to College. The Propel Bridge to College Program is a free program for students with intellectual disabilities who are Juniors, Seniors or recent graduates of high school to help them explore the possibilities of going to college and employment while getting an inside look at college life. The program empowers students to set and reach goals. Some Bridge to College students may decide to pursue admission to the Propel program or other Higher Education opportunities, while others may seek employment.
Going to college can be a transformative experience for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Over 200 colleges – public universities, private colleges/universities, and community colleges – include students with intellectual disabilities on campus. Propel: UMKC’s Program for Self-Determination and Employment will be an academically inclusive postsecondary education program. The Propel program strategy is to provide a stable, strong foundation for students to live their adult lives in inclusive communities with satisfying employment in a competitive work environment, residential living of their choice, and friends with and without disabilities. This strong foundation will be built through going to college: developing career interests; gaining experience from work-based learning; taking classes with other UMKC students; residential living, and social/recreational opportunities.
Propel will provide a two-year program that includes student learning outcomes across academic, vocational, social, and independent living domains with a particular emphasis on self-determination and employment. In addition, the project will provide a Bridge to College program to prepare high school students with IDD for successful transition to postsecondary education. Through their college experience, Propel students will build capacity to set and work toward personal goals; build friendships; live independently; seek competitive employment; use technology; and navigate resources. Their families will have increased knowledge of how to support their family member with IDD through college, in finding employment, building self-determination, and supporting their community participation.
The target population is individuals with IDD, especially students of color and students from an economically disadvantaged background in the Kansas City urban core. The project will serve an estimated 100 students through the Bridge component and 60 students in the two-year program. Participating partners include the UMKC Institute for Human Development (Missouri’s UCEDD), the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences, the UMKC Psychology Department, UMKC Student Affairs, EITAS (the Jackson County DD agency), Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, three local school districts, and local organizations including the YMCA and EXCEL (a local foundation).
For more information, contact Rhonda Blanner, Director of Propel,BlannerRK@umkc.edu, 816.235.6828.