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College of Education

CarolinaLIFE receives $2.2M in competitive federal funding for expansion and enhancement

The University of South Carolina has been awarded 2.2 million dollars to expand and enhance CarolinaLIFE, a postsecondary program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Chelsea VanHorn Stinnett, Ph.D., CarolinaLIFE Director and research assistant professor, and Tony Plotner, Ph.D., an associate professor in Educational Studies serve as principal investigators on the project.

This Transition and Post-Secondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grant from the US Department of Education is a highly competitive award offered every five years to expand existing model inclusive postsecondary programs for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities or develop new programs.

CarolinaLIFE has had a 12-year history of supporting students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in facilitating an inclusive and person-centered program of study, and the award will allow the program to expand its ability to provide this support.

“We currently have a 13% acceptance rate for CarolinaLIFE. There is obvious need for more opportunity to attend college for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and this funding will allow us to expand the size of our program and accept more students,” said Stinnett. “We’re very proud of our program as it exists today, but we’re looking forward to the new initiatives that will result from this funding that will meet the needs of our students.”

The 2.2 million-dollar award will support an increase in the number of students enrolled in the program as well as enhanced student programming. These funds will also be used towards the development of a formal partnership with Midlands Technical College to provide students with access to trade certification programs, a formal living and learning model with UofSC Housing, and the creation of the College Agency Initiative to prepare students to make informed decisions about their own post-college lives.

“CarolinaLIFE is a nationally recognized program,” said Plotner. “Programs from all across the country often look to us for guidance on innovative supports and practices. We have worked diligently over the last decade to provide students with a rigorous college experience that leads to enhanced skills and positive outcomes. This award will allow us to continue our commitment to diversity and inclusion while best supporting our students at UofSC.”

For more information about CarolinaLIFE, please visit their website.

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