Inclusive postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities are growing across the nation and in Georgia. Currently, Georgia has nine of the more than 260 inclusive postsecondary programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities at universities and colleges across the country.
In 2019, Georgia celebrated inaugural graduation classes from three different postsecondary programs across the state. These included graduates from Georgia State University (GSU) Inclusive Digital Expression & Literacy (IDEAL) Program, Georgia Institute of Technology (GaTech) Expanding Career, Education, and Leadership (Excel) Program, and the University of Georgia (UGA) Destination Dawgs.
James “Jimmy” Freels and Mandel Montilus graduated this spring with a Certificate of Career Readiness from GSU’s IDEAL Program, located on-campus at the Center for Leadership in Disability (CLD). In interviews, both James and Mandel reflected that being in this program has established a greater sense of independence, as well as confidence in themselves, and initiative to pursue their goals and dreams. Following graduation, Mandel plans to build on his passion for games by working at a video game store; and James hopes to one day start his own company writing scripts and plays.
GaTech’s Excel program saw seven graduates from its inaugural class. These included Carrie Crayton, Alex Goodman, Rashad Isaac, Natalie Jackson, Faith Roman, Frankie Sanders, and Kurt Vogel. They received Certificates of Achievement in academics, social skills and career development. Five of the graduates already have jobs lined up; the other two are interviewing. Vogel spent his internship year working at the CLD where he will continue to work.
Destination Dawgs is housed at the Institute on Human Development and Disability, Georgia’s other UCEDD. UGA had 5 graduates in their inaugural graduating class. All with plans to be more involved and integral part of their communities.
Every year, more than 700 Georgia students with intellectual disabilities, who would be qualified for inclusive postsecondary programs, completed their K-12 education. In the 2018-19, academic year there were 140 enrolled students enrolled in Georgia IPSE programs. By 2025, the Georgia Inclusive Postsecondary Education Consortium’s (GAIPSEC) goal is to have 250 students served a year. To support this effort, the CLD received a Round 2 Model Transition Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) Grant from the US Department of Education, which has been used to grow capacity around the state for IPSE.