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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 2809
Program Contact Carolyn Aspinwall
Program Contact Email
Phone 401-440-0856
Website Program website
Facebook link to program Facebook page

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 an 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 3 days per week.
• 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 Academy peers 1 day per week and with RWU peers weekly through “Best Buddies” on Campus.
• Students receive functional independent living instruction in an apartment setting 1 day per week.
• Students receive special education classroom transition instruction three mornings per week.
• Each Semester Academy Students attend a college level course in conjunction with RWU students.

The Transition Academy is integrated on Campus :
• RWU School of Education Interns work with students in the classroom 50 hours per semester as part of their pre-service training.
• Academy students participate in “Best Buddies” Chapter on Campus
• Academy students participate in recreational activities on campus with RWU peers as well as access facilities for dining and leisure.
• Academy students participate each semester in a RWU College course.

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

Program information submitted: March 1, 2022

Public or private: Private
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
Number of students: 12
Summer program name Transition Academy Extended School Year Program
Description of our summer transition program: Transition Academy extends it's school year to eligible students for 6 weeks starting in last June and ending in August. Activities include recreation, social skill building and independent living experiences.
Summer program link: Transition Academy Extended School Year Program
School district or agency partner: East Bay Educational Collaborative serving districts in RI, MA and CT
Contact person: Carolyn Aspinwall, Director
Program serves students who have left high school? No, all of our students are still in high school
Deadline to apply to this program: June 30th
Criteria for admission
  • Age range: 18-22
Accepts out-of-state students? Yes
Please indicate which disabilities students in this program have:
  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism
  • Emotional/Behavioral, Physical
Program length: Varies from student to student
Acceptance, Retention, and Completion Rates
Acceptance rate for the most recent fall term: 100.00%
Retention rate for first year students from the previous academic year to the current one: 80.00%
Average student tuition and fees for the current school year: $25500.00
Average out-of-state tuition, current year: $30000.00
Is this program able to provide federal financial aid as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP)? We are not a CTP, and have no plans to become one.
Students pay for the program in the following ways:
  • Private pay (student and family)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Funds
  • Local School District funds
Students enrolled in this program take the following types of inclusive courses (with students who don't have disabilities): Typical college courses for audit
Students take courses that are only for students in this program: Yes
Percentage of academic time spent in inclusive courses (with students who don't have disabilities): 1-24%
Do all students in this program enroll in at least one inclusive college/university course for credit or audit each semester? No
Credential(s) students earn upon completing the program: Certificate of Completion/High School Diploma
Is the credential approved by the college/university? Awarded by program, not officially recognized by the IHE
Percent of students in this program have paid work while attending the program: 0%
Other career development activities are:
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
Percent of students in this program that had paid work after exiting the program: 80%
Additional information about career development and work experience: all students participate in (3) 8-10 week internships during the year.
Does this program have a working partnership with VR to provide funding, supports and/or services to students in the program? Yes
Housing is provided to students: No
Students participate in student organizations on campus: Yes
Percentage of social time spent in inclusive activities (open to all students on campus): 100%
Students may participate in the following extra-curricular activities
  • Registered student organizations
  • Campus events