Grant provides tuition assistance for Access ETSU students

A program at East Tennessee State University that prepares students with intellectual disabilities for meaningful employment has received a $2.5 million boost from the U.S. Department of Education.

Access ETSU is a two-year, non-degree program for individuals with intellectual disabilities who are seeking to enhance their academic, career development and social skills and experiences in a way that is identical to their peers at the university.  Participants attend classes, participate in internships and have access to the same activities and services as other ETSU students.

Through this Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the university can provide assistance for tuition and other fees to eligible students in the Access ETSU program beginning in fall 2021.  ETSU will also use the funding to hire additional staffing, including a program coordinator, an academic coordinator and an employment specialist.

In addition, ETSU is now recognized by the Department of Education as a “comprehensive transition program,” meaning that participants can also qualify for federal financial aid.

“Our primary goal with the program is to prepare our students for gainful employment opportunities,” said Dr. Dawn Rowe, associate professor of Educational Foundations and Special Education in the ETSU Clemmer College.  “Students share their areas of interest and career goals with us and we support them determining appropriate coursework and coordinate employment experiences including internships that are aligned with those goals.”

Rowe is the principal investigator on the grant project and is joined by Dr. Jennifer Cook as co-investigator along with Dr. Pamela Mims, Dr. Cynthia Chambers and Dr. Lori Marks, all from ETSU’s Department of Educational Foundations and Special Education.

For more information about Access ETSU, contact Rowe at or visit

Transition Tennessee debuts new student portal on website

Transition Tennessee’s website for students is excited to announce the addition of the first lesson for students with the goal of continuing their education after high school. The “I Want to Continue My Education” path is being is being launched with one lesson available now, titled “Rights and Responsibilities Change After High School”. After completing this lesson, students will be able to identify similarities and differences between their rights and responsibilities in high school and postsecondary programs.

Lessons coming soon:

  • Disability Disclosure in College
  • Communication in College

Instructors: Visit the Instructor Guide for more resources and strategies for implementing these lessons with your students.

Please note: Students are not required to create accounts in order to access the content and activities intended for their use. A login is only required for the instructor guide page of the student website. For more information about the privacy policy, click here.

Tennesse STEP UP scholarship application deadline approaching

The Tennessee STEP UP Scholarship is a program designed to assist students with intellectual disabilities who have completed high school and enroll in an individualized program of study of up to four (4) years at an eligible postsecondary institution.

Students and parents must complete the STEP UP Scholarship application and email the completed application to  In addition, recipients must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for each academic year. The FAFSA can be completed by clicking here.

The deadlines to complete both applications are:

  • Fall – September 1
  • Spring – February 1
  • Summer – May 1

Learn more about the Tennessee STEP UP scholarship, including rules of eligibility, by visiting the Best Essay Writing Services
Click here to complete the STEP UP Scholarship application. 

UTC Mosaic Program adds new information session dates; Fall 2021 application goes live in late September

Information Sessions dates for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga’s Mosaic Program have been added. All sessions will be held virtually. Click here for more information on specific dates and how to sign up.
find a bride

The application for Fall 2021-Spring 2022 will go live by Sept. 28.

If you have any questions, email

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center introduces new toolkit, online course on “Supporting Teens and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Setting and Pursuing Self-Determined Goals”

Researchers with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) have worked alongside the VKC Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD) and the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation to develop a brand-new toolkit and online course on goal-setting for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum. “Supporting Teens and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Setting and Pursuing Self-Determined Goals” is designed to help parents and caregivers, teachers, siblings, service providers, and others who support teens and young adults on the autism spectrum as they set and pursue self-determined goals. Teens and adults on the autism spectrum may also find this toolkit helpful, as well as those who support individuals with a range of disabilities. “Supporting Teens and Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Setting and Pursuing Self-Determined Goals” is free and available  for PDF download at 

Other helpful links: – To access the online course, visit and register for a free account through the VKC TRIAD Learning Portal; – Learn more about the project by watching this 3-minute introductory video:; – Check out this blog post written for Transition Tennessee’s Rise to Work blog series by Janet Shouse, an avid disability advocate and parent of a young adult on the spectrum:…/… For more information, reach out to with any questions.

Registration is open for *VIRTUAL* 2020 SEPSEA Conference July 28-30

Registration is now open for the 2020 Southeastern Postsecondary Education Alliance (SEPSEA) Conference, which will be held July 20-30 via the Whova app.

Once you register, you will have access to the agenda and other features of the app. Zoom links to the presentations will be available at the beginning of the conference. Cost to participate is free for SEPSEA members and $35 for non-members. NOTE: Due to COVID-19 and not having an in person conference, SEPSEA memberships from FY 2020 will be extended through the conference. More information about  writing service SEPSEA membership and renewals will come during the SEPSEA CBI Closing Session. More information on becoming a SEPSEA member can be found at

Click here to view the full agenda: SEPSEA Conference 2020 Agenda Full 7.6.20

Visit to register.

COVID-19 resource recommendations from Think College!

As we enter into another month of social distancing and staying at home, Think College! is doing its best to share good information that they’re finding online. There is a plethora of resources for students, teachers, and families to manage during the COVID-19 crisis– websites, webinars, resources, and the latest news — that they are pushing out via social media channels daily. Visit the Think college paper writing service to find a listing of current resources created specifically to support people with intellectual disabilities, educators, and others, who are navigating new learning and working environments, including a website called Teaching & Learning Online: Strategies for Supporting Students with ID, created by Lori Cooney & Maria Paiewonsky; COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities developed by Green Mountain Self-Advocates; and the latest updates from the U.S. Department of Education.

East Tennessee Foundation offers 2020 Haley Elise Van Pelt Scholarship

The East Tennessee Foundation announces the establishment of a new scholarship for 2020, the Haley Elise Van Pelt Scholarship.

This scholarship has been established to benefit students of any age seeking post-secondary education who have a permanent intellectual or developmental disability and/or functional impairment.

Scholarship information, including detailed descriptions and application instructions, as well as 2020 applications, are now available at The scholarship application must be completed and submitted online. The application deadline for 2020 is Feb. 15, 2020.

Below is a detailed description of the criteria for the Haley Elise Van Pelt Scholarship:

Purpose and History: Established to benefit students of any age seeking post-secondary education who have a permanent intellectual or developmental disability and/or functional impairment. This may include but is not limited to brain injury, musculoskeletal impairment, multiple traumas, neuromuscular disorders such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy, or stroke.
Scholarship Amount: $1,000.
Eligibility Requirements:
1. Residency Requirement: East Tennessee Foundation 25-county service area.
2. Post-Secondary Requirement: Enrollment at an accredited two-year or four-year college or university, Tennessee College of Applied Technology, vocational program, trade school, or programs that help individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities gain skills, and make a successful transition from high school to adult life and/or empowers students to achieve gainful employment in the community located in Tennessee.
3. Additional Requirement: Permanent intellectual or developmental disability and/or functional impairment.

Please feel free to contact Beth Heller,, or Ashley Siferd,, or at
(865) 524-1223 with any questions or concerns.

TN IHE Alliance teams up with TN Council on DD to produce comprehensive video of IHE programs in Tennessee

The Tennessee Inclusive Higher Education (IHE) Alliance worked alongside the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities to produce a new video highlighting Tennessee’s opportunities for postsecondary education for young individuals with disabilities. This video gives a helpful overview of Tennessee’s college programs for students with developmental disabilities, including information about East Tennessee State University’s pilot program, beginning in Fall 2019. Click here to view and share the video.