To create inclusive college opportunities in Colorado for students with intellectual disabilities to foster academic growth, social development, and career advancement.
Students with intellectual disabilities will be welcomed on college campuses and allowed to continue their education and preparation for life, as inclusive pathways become part of the fabric of all colleges and universities throughout Colorado.
Historically, society’s low expectations coupled with limited opportunities have prevented people with intellectual disabilities (ID) from the benefits associated with a college education. While peers move to the next phase of their lives, students with ID sit on the sidelines. Consequently, they transition from high school to adult day programs, very low paying jobs, or, in too many cases, simply end up sitting idly at home with limited social outlets. Many individuals live below the poverty line, and have little prospect of rising above it.
Providing access to college is a paradigm shift with life-changing results for individuals with ID. Students choose their career paths, enabling them to earn a living wage.
Investing in Futures
As a result of IN!'s work, students with intellectual disabilities in Colorado have the option to attend college, an option that did not exist a short time ago. We are invested in ensuring that college access continues to be possible for more and more students with ID in our state. Our key areas of focus are:
Education: We reach out to families and teachers to make sure prospective students know college is an option and have the resources needed to start preparing for college.
Outreach: Now that college is an option, we are working to ensure it is equitable for every student with ID with a college dream. This includes responding to unique needs in various communities across our state.
Expansion: With the rising demand for inclusive higher education, IN! is actively working to have inclusive college opportunities for individuals with ID available statewide and woven into the natural fabric of all higher education.
Student Success: In order to improve inclusive services in our state and ensure student success, IN! supports the Colorado Inclusion Consortium via technical assistance, guidance on program design, and tracking student outcomes.
History of IN!
2014: IN! receives 501c3 status
2015: Community needs assessment completed; 12 colleges/universities are approached about opening their doors to students with intellectual disabilities
2016: Senate Bill 16-196 is passed, allowing three colleges in Colorado (ACC, UNC, UCCS) to open their doors to students with intellectual disabilities; 12 students with ID enroll in college
2018: IN!'s Education and Outreach Program established to raise awareness of college options in Colorado.
2019: Each school offering inclusive higher education has their Comprehensive Higher Education Certificate approved by the Department of Education to award upon graduation.
2020: Colorado sees our first five graduates of inclusive higher education! UNC, ACC, and UCCS all achieve Comprehensive Transition Program status, allowing students with intellectual disabilities to access federal financial aid.
2021: During a global pandemic, schools continue to provide supports to the now 70 students with intellectual disabilities enrolled in college in Colorado!
2022: House Bill 22-1107 passed in 2022, creating a 5-year Inclusive Higher Education Grant Program that allows colleges across the state to apply for needed funding to develop, expand and solidify inclusive higher education pathways for students with intellectual disabilities (ID).
2023-24: IN! will be working with 2-4 new inclusive higher education programs across the state to continue expanding inclusive postsecondary opportunities and ensuring equitable access for all.