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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
Phone 401.237-7816

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 300 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. 

Program information submitted: March 19, 2021

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: 10
Summer program name ESY
Description of our summer transition program: The Summer Transition Program offered is a continuation of the Transition Academy and is available to those students who qualify for Extended Year Services through their sending school district.
Summer program link: ESY
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: Rolling Admission
Criteria for admission
  • Age range: 18-22
  • Must have IEP
Accepts out-of-state students?: Yes
Please indicate which disabilities students in this program have:
  • Intellectual disability
  • Autism
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 75.00%
Average student tuition and fees for the current school year $30000.00
Average out-of-state tuition, current year $35000.00
Room and board: $0.00
Program fees: $0.00
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
  • Adult intellectual/developmental disability state agency funds
  • Local School District funds
Students take these types of "typical" courses (with students who don't have disabilities): Typical college courses for audit
More about course access: Students participate in 2nd semester RWU writing class free of charge. Students wishing to audit other classes do so by enrolling in classes at a local community college.
Students take courses that are only for students in this program: Yes
Are students in this program able to access support services through your IHE disability services office? No
Information on special classes: • Functional Skill Building /Independent Living • Community Independence • Travel training • Social Skills Classes • Budgeting/financial literacy • Personal Management Classes • Work Skills • Recreation/Leisure
Percentage of academic time spent only with other students in this program: About 75% of the time
Percent of students in this program have paid work while attending the program: 75%
Other career development activities are:
  • Internships
  • Volunteer work
  • Community Service
Percent of students in this program that had paid work after exiting the program: 75%
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
Proportion of social time spent only with other students in this program: 75%
Students have participated in these social/extracurricular activities and organizations: Events on Campus Access to all facilities on Campus Join clubs of interest