Successful Capacity Building Event in Maryland

Susan Page (left, seated) and Marcella Franczkowski (right, standing)

In late September, the Maryland Inclusive Higher Education Collaborative in collaboration with the Think College National Coordinating Center, hosted a full-day capacity building institute at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, MD. The focus of the day was on developing and improving college-based transition services in the state of MD. Currently there are 14 programs in 19 school systems in Maryland that are serving students with intellectual and developmental disability in college and university settings. The event was opened with remarks state leaders including Marcella Franczkowski, Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Special Education & Early Intervention Services, Maryland State Department of Education, and Sue Page, Assistant State Superintendent, Maryland ​State Department of Education​, Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS). Meg Grigal, Co-Director of Think College, offered a national overview of existing dual enrollment programs and recent data on academic access and employment outcomes.

Attendees included representatives from the secondary transition departments from over a dozen local school systems as well as a variety of statewide colleges and universities – from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City, to Coppin State University in Baltimore. In addition, nearly 10 community colleges were represented. Many of the school systems and colleges attending have existing partnerships to provide transition programs for high school students with intellectual disabilities on college campuses, and others attended to learn more information about how to start a program. The partners in Maryland are excited to expand the existing collaborations, Marcella Franczkowski remarked:

"Maryland's Division of Special Education /Early Intervention Services Strategic Plan, Moving Maryland Forward, supports the opportunities for all students with disabilities to pursue postsecondary education and training through inclusive transition programs. Our hope is that through coordination and partnership with other state agencies and technical assistance from Think College, our inclusive transition programs can serve as a pipeline to post-school success."

Presenters from successful inclusive postsecondary programs in New York and Massachusetts were on hand to share their expertise and experience. Dr. Martha Mock and Mary Judge from the University of Rochester shared their lessons learned through providing technical assistance to four IHEs in upstate New York and to the City University of New York via TPSID projects. From Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, Donna Graham and Mia LaPointe outlined the evolution of their 8-year program and offered strategies for sustainability and growth. Dr. Maria Paiewonsky from Think College at the ICI at Umass Boston shared strategies used to create a network of inclusive concurrent enrollment transition programs in Massachusetts. The team from the transition program at Wor-Wic Community College presented their current model and how they are accessing Maryland Department of Rehabilitation Services funding to support them.

According to Suzanne Page of DORS, "It was important to attend the event to demonstrate DORS' support of the Maryland Inclusive Higher Education Collaborative. DORS commits to collaborating and supporting institutions interested in implementing or expanding inclusive education programs for transitioning youth."

The collaborative hopes that in the future, engaged stakeholders will create a strong community of practice in partnership with all of these state agencies. The strength these collaborations between the school systems, the State Department of Education and Department of Rehabilitation Services is crucial for the development of new inclusive opportunities, and the expansion of our current programming.

If you have questions about the Maryland Inclusive Higher Education Collaborative, contact Amy Dwyre D’Agati.

If you would like to know more about Think College or have questions about starting a program, contact