A new two-year certificate program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Post-secondary education and the experience of college living offer many opportunities for growth and a foundation for future employment in both the general population and among people with intellectual disabilities.

However, residential college programs, which have shown to offer these students the chance to develop independent living skills, increase inclusive community participation, foster career opportunities, and continue their academic development, have not existed in the St. Louis region. Until now.

Deborah Baldini, Associate Dean for Continuing Education at UMSL, received two grants for work on SUCCEED, a residential certificate program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities ages 18-25. Funding, which includes $81,844 from St. Louis Arc and $50,000 from the St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources, will be used to visit and research similar programs, design curriculum and structure, and disseminate information to the St. Louis community and recruit students. SUCCEED has also received separate funding from the Developmental Disabilities Resource Board and the Productive Living Board.

According to a study by the University of Iowa (2006), families of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are interested in post-secondary options that include on-campus residential living experiences — especially those that are in close proximity to the family's home. Prior to SUCCEED, there were no residential-living certificate program in St. Louis, forcing families to consider options in Warrensburg, Mo.; Iowa CIty, Iowa; and Chicago.

Designed to encourage and develop pathways toward independence, SUCCEED offers an individualized approach to career development and transition toward degree-seeking programs. The curriculum, learning activities, and internships are structured around social interaction, personal development, independent living skills, preparation for employment and/or a degree-seeking program. SUCCEED students live on campus, engage in classes that promote their individual strengths, participate in student life, and experience internship opportunities with local employers.

The program offers specialized core classes that emphasize life and social skills, independent living, academic enrichment, career development, career counseling and field placements to help students focus on employment that matches their skills and interests. Students will live on campus supported by trained Residential Assistants to fully integrate into the residential, social and community life at UMSL. St. Louis Arc will provide ongoing support to campus staff and faculty to ensure the highest quality services.

Hiring, awareness training and program intake for SUCCEED will begin this summer. If you or someone you know might be interested in this program please visit umslsucceed.com. ♦

Featured Grant:
Post-Secondary Program Development for St. Louisans with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Deborah Baldini
Deborah Baldini, Continuing Education & Outreach

Awards Total: $131,844
Funding Sources:  

The St. Louis Office for Developmental Disability Resources was created by the Missouri legislature in 1969 and incorporated in 1980. The legislation, known as the County Sheltered Workshop and Developmental Disability Services Law, allows voters to approve a real estate tax to provide services to persons with developmental disabilities. St. Louis city residents with developmental disabilities are able to live fuller lives through the support of St. Louis city taxpayers. DD Resources distributes funds for community based services to persons who have developmental disabilities that desire to remain in their home and community. Service providers offer a variety of services ranging from life skills development, job training, continuing education, habilitation, and socialization.

St. Louis Arc is a non-profit, United Way agency that provides support and services to more than 3,000 adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Dr. Deborah Baldini

Deborah Baldini, Associate Dean for Continuing Education and Teaching Professor in Spanish at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, leads UMSL's Labor Studies, Advanced Credit, Foreign Language Connection and Write Stuff programs along with the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Education. She has played a major role in shaping UMSL’s Spanish program by publishing software, reviewing textbooks and multimedia projects and serving as a consultant to high schools, community colleges and universities. Baldini earned a Master's in Spanish Language and Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UMSL; she also has completed a Management Development Program at Harvard University.

Dr. April Regester

April Regester, Assistant Professor of Special Education, serves as co-investigator on this grant overseeing the overall curricular design for the SUCCEED Program. She also supervises two graduate students, with whom she is working to develop coursework for the program.