Taishoff Center Receives $2 Million to Create Model InclusiveU Program

The Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education in the School of Education has received $2 million in federal funds to develop programs and conduct research for national use through the InclusiveU initiative, which supports individualized and inclusive options for students with intellectual disabilities at the University. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s TPSID program (Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities), which provides grants to institutions of higher education to enable them to create or expand high quality, model comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities. This grant comes on the heels of a $3 million gift from the Taishoff Family Foundation last fall.

Taishoff Center Director Beth Myers welcomes students and families to Syracuse University.

Taishoff Center Director Beth Myers welcomes students and families to Syracuse University.

InclusiveU at Syracuse offers a comprehensive college experience for students with intellectual disabilities. InclusiveU programming includes individualized coursework, person-centered planning, professional internships, and social and extracurricular activities. Students can select classes based on their interests and, in their final year of enrollment, can participate in Project SEARCH, a national employment preparation program that places students in on-campus internships to provide them with marketable, transferable job skills.

To facilitate a truly inclusive college experience for InclusiveU students, Syracuse University students from all majors and disciplines will have the opportunity to work with the students as peer mentors through the Peer-to-Peer Project, partnering together for social events, academics and other campus activities.

Beth A. Myers, director of the Taishoff Center, research assistant professor at the School of Education and principal investigator on the TPSID grant, says there is a critical need for universities to create pathways like InclusiveU. “The intention is not for Syracuse University to become the only place for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” she says, “but rather to support the growth and capacity within all institutes of higher education so students can attend the college or university of their choice.”

The number of students with disabilities who may be eligible for postsecondary education is near 3 million, and only 86 four-year universities welcome students with intellectual disabilities. Of those 86, fewer than 15 offer a fully inclusive learning experience.

The Taishoff Center is dedicated to providing full and equitable participation of students with disabilities in higher education, especially students who have traditionally been excluded from post-secondary education. The center was established in 2009 by the Taishoff family and has been operating InclusiveU at Syracuse University since 2013. Since its inception, the Taishoff Center has made significant impact in supporting students with disabilities in higher education and within society at large. The center has hosted two national conferences and its staff have secured more than $6.2 million in grants from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Taishoff Family Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education, and presented at conferences nationwide. More information can be found at http://taishoffcenter.syr.edu.

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