Spotlight on Transition

This month's spotlight shines on: Institute for Innovative Transition Awarded $2.5 Million Grant to Partner with CUNY and AHRC on Inclusive Postsecondary Initiative in NYC

The Institute for Innovative Transition, housed at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education, received a second Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a new consortium of five higher education institutions at the City University of New York (CUNY), supported by AHRC New York City and the New York City Department of Education, that will help students with intellectual disabilities in New York City (NYC) to attend and succeed in college.

Funded by a five-year $2.5 million grant, the consortium will establish, implement, and sustain five TPSID model demonstration projects that will create new and expand existing meaningful inclusive college programs at the Borough of Manhattan Community, College of Staten Island, Hostos Community College, Kingsborough Community College, and Queens College. Each higher education institution will partner with AHRC New York City or the New York City Department of Education. Partnering with CUNY and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), AHRC New York City developed the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program and pioneered the work of fully including students with intellectual disabilities within CUNY in 2007.


The model demonstration projects will serve at least 75 18- to 28-year-old individuals with intellectual disabilities each year and will improve students’ outcomes for employability and independence by significantly increasing their access to higher education.

The Institute for Innovative Transition, a partnership between the Warner School and Golisano Foundation in Rochester, N.Y., will provide leadership, planning assistance, training, technical assistance, coordination, data management, and program evaluation to the five downstate TPSID model demonstration projects. Since 2008, the Institute has been committed to improving the quality of lives for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families as they transition into adulthood.

The Institute is well poised to lead this initiative as it has already made progress in addressing this transition in the higher education community and community at large. An initial TPSID $2.5 million grant awarded to the Institute for Innovative Transition in 2010 established a Western New York Consortium of local colleges and universities, including Keuka College, Monroe Community College, Roberts Wesleyan College, and the University of Rochester, that has served nearly 200 students with intellectual disabilities through inclusive higher education programs over the past five years. The second TPSID grant will build on this momentum and the important work that the Institute has done to develop postsecondary options for students with intellectual disabilities.

Historically, students with intellectual disabilities have had no or limited opportunities to participate in a college environment. Of the 245 college options for students with intellectual disabilities nationally, the state of New York has only 26 programs.

“These five new model programs, which will be fully inclusive, will allow students with intellectual disabilities to not only be on campus, but they will be an integral part and a valued member of the community,” explains Martha Mock, director of the Institute for Innovative Transition and an associate professor at the Warner School. “The initiative will tap into the experience and existing expertise of each partner to provide access to higher education for students with intellectual disabilities. Together, we will move the field of inclusive postsecondary education forward in New York State.”

Students who take this alternative pathway to college will benefit from an inclusive, high-quality college experience that focuses on academics and instruction, campus and extracurricular activities, employment through work-based learning and internships, and independent living and on-campus housing. At the end of the program, students will receive a newly developed certificate from CUNY.

“The City University of New York is thrilled to partner with the University of Rochester, AHRC NYC and the New York City Department of Education in a TPSID consortium,” says Frank D. Sanchez, vice chancellor for student affairs, City University of New York. “CUNY’s mission is to provide affordable and accessible higher education opportunities to all New Yorkers, especially those who have historically not had access to a higher education opportunity. CUNY sees inclusive higher education as an emerging national postsecondary movement—one which our University is poised to lead through innovative collaborations like those offered through the U.S. Department of Education TPSID grants. We look forward to working with our partners to make CUNY the nation’s premiere university for neurodiverse learners, especially those with intellectual disabilities.”

Government statistics show that the employment rate of students in TPSID programs is double the employment rate of other transitioning youth. The national average for employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities transitioning out of high school to the workforce is 18 percent—for individuals who participated in TPSID, it is 40 percent. Additionally, students who successfully completed an inclusive postsecondary program and secured employment are paid 73 percent higher weekly incomes than those without a postsecondary education.

The Institute for Innovative Transition was one of 25 TPSID grantees, located in 19 states, to receive funding in 2015. The U.S. Department of Education TPSID program, launched in 2010, provides grants to institutions of higher education or consortia of institutions of higher education to enable them to create or expand high-quality, inclusive model comprehensive transition and postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities.

Launched in 2008, the Institute for Innovative Transition, which has been sustained through over $2 million in grants from the Golisano Foundation and continues to be supported by other generous donors, aims to improve the quality of life for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families as they transition from school age to adulthood. In 2010, the Institute launched a Think College NY! initiative, supported in part by a grant from the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, that enabled the Institute for Innovative Transition to hold regional summits conducting statewide strategic planning in the area of college options for students with intellectual disabilities. The five new TPSID model projects are an expansion of this Think College NY! initiative. For more information about these new TPSID projects or other initiatives of the Institute for Innovative Transition, please contact Martha Mock at or visit

About the Warner School of Education
Founded in 1958, the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education ( offers master’s and doctoral degree programs in teaching and curriculum, school leadership, higher education, educational policy, counseling, human development, and health professions education. The Warner School of Education offers an accelerated option for its EdD programs that allows eligible students to earn a doctorate in education in as few as three years part time while holding a professional job in the same field. The Warner School of Education is recognized both regionally and nationally for its tradition of preparing practitioners and researchers to become leaders and agents of change in schools, universities, and community agencies; generating and disseminating research; and actively participating in education reform.


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