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RI Transition Academy at Roger Williams University

RI Transition Academy at Roger Williams University
Roger Williams University
RI Transition Academy at Roger Williams University
One Old Ferry Road
Stonewall Terrace IV/Honors Building
Bristol, RI 02809
Program Contact Carolyn Aspinwall
Phone 401.254.3889

The RI Transition Academy at Roger Williams University is a unique educational program operated by The East Bay Educational Collaborative that provides motivated students with disabilities an opportunity to complete their high school education on a college campus and in various community settings.  The Transition Academies began in 2003 as an alternative to the public school setting for 18-21 year old students with intellectual, physical and/or emotional disabilities who require additional instruction in functional life skills including employment preparation, social skills training, and assistance with college coursework. 

Rhode Island is currently under a Consent Decree from the Department of Justice to insure that all students with intellectual disabilities are afforded meaningful opportunities throughout their high school experience to explore integrated employment.  The Transition Academy at Roger Williams has allowed many RI districts to comply with the Consent Degree and insure that their students receive the highest level of special education service as well as exiting the high school program with the skills to obtain meaningful paid employment.

The Transition Academy at Roger Williams University is a model of best practice and has gained National attention, being listed as a model program on the national “Think College” Website.  The Transition Academies were initially supported through the RI Department of Education, and today with ongoing support from local school districts have graduated over 120 students.

Students attend the Academy because they;

  •  require additional academic/functional life skill/transition services as identified in their Individual Education Program (IEP) and would like to develop these skills in an age appropriate setting with their peers.
  • have gone through the graduation ceremony with their class, but have not yet received a diploma or completed their transition services as identified in their IEP.
  • may have completed the “academic” component of their program but require additional transition services and case management in the areas of functional life skills, work training and development, social and independent living skills as identified in their IEP. 

Some of the main objectives for our students include;

  • To learn about themselves and the world around them.
  • To prepare for and obtain competitive employment by participation in business internships.
  • To have opportunities to take college courses with support.
  • To participate in campus activities and to join clubs.
  • To learn how to interact and access their community.
  • To have the same kind of experiences their non-disabled peers have.
  • To make friends and form networks that will support them in the future.
  • To gain experiences that will better prepare them to live independently.

Program Components:

  • Students attend the program 180 days and follow the college academic calendar as closely as possible.
  • Students learn how to take public transportation to and from the campus, as well as to worksites in the community.
  • Students participate in 3 eight to ten week internships at community businesses matched to personal skills, abilities and preferences.
  • Transition Weeks in between student internships allow students to reflect on their experience, participate in interviews, prepare presentations on skills they have gained and prepare their resumes.
  • Students plan and participate in social activities with their peers 1 day per week.
  • Students receive special education classroom instruction three mornings per week.

The Transition Academies benefit our Higher Education Partners by :

  • Increasing diversity and culture on the campus.
  • Heightened awareness of the potential of individuals with disabilities.
  • Opportunities for college students with education majors to expand their knowledge through research, training and mentorship.
  • Compassion for the student with a disability through understanding and personal experiences.

Students that have graduated from the RI Transition Academy have gone on to positive outcomes in employment, community living and or postsecondary education. 

Public or private: Public
Type of school: 4-year college or university
Is this program a federally funded TPSID program? No
Students in this program: Are still enrolled in high school
School district or agency partner: East Bay Educational Collaborative
Contact person: Carolyn Aspinwall
Requirements for admission to this program:
  • 18-21
  • Student must be a resident of the state where the program is located
  • Student must be enrolled in a particular school system/local educational agency
Accepts out-of-state students?: No
Please indicate which disabilities students in this program have:
  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism
Is this program able to provide federal financial aid as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP)? No
Students pay for the program in the following ways:
  • Private pay (student and family)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Funds
  • Local School District funds
Students take these types of "typical" courses (with students who don't have disabilities):
  • Typical college courses for credit
  • Typical college courses for audit
Last updated: Thursday, January 23, 2020 - 13:27