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Next Steps for Inclusive Higher Education

Next Steps at Vanderbilt University is a high-quality, two-year model comprehensive transition and postsecondary program for young adults with intellectual disability designed to equip students with the skills, relationships, experiences, and supports needed to achieve personally valued outcomes during and after college. Since our launch in 2010, we have delivered individualized and inclusive educational experiences to 23 students marked by a commitment to person-centered practices, evidence-based supports, strong social connections, and integrated work experiences. Our employment rate for program graduates is 88%. We are requesting TPSID funding to extend and enhance the rigor, relevance, relationships, and reach of our program. We meet all three competitive priorities. We have set five primary goals for this project. First, we will expand to a four-year program. Related objectives include (a) refining our program pathways to ensure a sequenced experience, (b) expanding the range and depth of on- and off-campus internship and work experiences, and (c) refining our student seminars to address additional critical skills, and (d) deepening our partnership with local LEAs and state agencies. Second, we will develop a unique portfolio of inclusive on- and off-campus housing options. Related objectives include (a) making on-campus options available for students during their first two years, (b) partnering with innovative community programs to support off-campus options for students during later years, and (c) building the Friendship House model at Vanderbilt. Third, we will increase access to all of the experiences and supports available to any Vanderbilt student. Related objectives include (a) doubling the number of courses students take, (b) expanding involvement in a wider array of campus clubs and activities, and (c) building the capacity of the full range of Vanderbilt student services to meet the needs of students with ID. Fourth, Peabody College will become a national leader in research on postsecondary supports for students with ID. Related objectives include (a) coordinating a program of research addressing five aspects of inclusive higher education experiences, (b) engaging graduate students and faculty from Peabody and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center in this work, and (c) partnering with Tennessee’s other programs to conduct larger-scale studies. Fifth, we will invest heavily in the growth of additional PSE programs throughout Tennessee. Related objectives include (a) leading new capacity building activities through our Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Opportunities; (b) partnering with the state to develop resources and advocacy efforts to raise awareness of and commitment to PSE opportunities among legislators, educators, families, and individuals with disabilities; (b) collaborating with the Tennessee Community College system to develop new programs in unreached corners of the state; and (c) creatively packaging elements of our program (e.g., seminar materials, peer partner training, summer institute) to make them accessible to others in the state and country. These collective efforts will enable us to more than double the number of students we serve across cohorts—from 13 students in Fall 2015 (2 cohorts) to at least 32 students beginning Fall 2018 (four cohorts). To carry out this work, we will extend our existing partnerships with the Tennessee Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), the Tennessee Department of Education (DOE), the TennesseeeWorks Partnership, Vanderbilt’s Department of Special Education, the Nashville ID Housing Group, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center and UCEDD, four diverse school districts (LEAs), the Tennessee Alliance for Postsecondary Opportunities for Students with Intellectual Disabilities, the Tennessee Developmental Disabilities Network, the Friendship House Partners, a community network of organizations (e.g., Arc TN, Autism TN, Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee), and the Next Steps Steering Committee

Grantor: DOE

Expected completion date: 09/30/2020

Project or Grant: Grant
Date Span: October 01, 2015 to September 30, 2020
Principal Investigators: Erik Carter
Academic Department: Special Education



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