By Meagan Gosa
Nashville, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has been awarded a $284,000 grant to help students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It is the first public institution in Middle Tennessee to offer an inclusive higher education program.
TSU is among four higher education institutions to receive the Tennessee Believes grant from the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD).
TSU’s grant will be spread over two years to create TigerEDGE (Educate, Develop, and Grow for Employability). The non-degree certificate program will allow young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to experience college life while also preparing them for employment. The program will target enrollment of eight students in Fall 2022.
Nationally, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities have an 80 percent unemployment rate, according to a recent statistic.
“TigerEDGE gives participants an “Edge” in their transition to independent adulthood by providing person-centered inclusive learning and choice,” says Dr. Anita McGaha, director of disability services at TSU and the grant’s principal investigator. ”The services delivered will focus on improving the quality of life through the development of social skills, academics, career, and job readiness. The experience of learning, living, and working together in an inclusive environment enhances the lives of all students and the TSU community as a whole. I am thankful for President Glenda Glover’s leadership in encouraging an inclusive learning environment and in providing all students an opportunity to succeed.”
Adds McGaha, “TSU is currently the only public institution in the Middle Tennessee area that will provide IDD students with the opportunity to experience college life while preparing them for successful independent living.”
Program participants will be between 18 and 26 years of age and will live on campus. They will be paired with an undergraduate student, or peer mentor, majoring in special education.
Dr. Jerri Haynes, dean of the College of Education at TSU, says the grant is an opportunity for the College, TSU, and other agencies to work together to reflect a university that speaks to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“The College of Education is excited because our teacher candidates will be allowed to work with students with disabilities serving as a mentor on the TSU campus, reflecting a true inclusion model,” says Haynes. “We are at the forefront of leading an inclusive culture that aims to create a feeling of belonging, a community in which all students are equal despite their needs and the support they receive. The aim is to ensure support for every student within their group.”
To learn more about the program and TSU’s Office of Disability Services, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/disabilityservices/.
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Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and eight doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee. With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.