$1.6M Grant Supports UMD Study to Improve State’s Outreach to Students With Disabilities

A $1.6 million award from the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) will fund a University of Maryland study on the effectiveness of its outreach to students with disabilities who are preparing for future employment, training or college.

The College of Education’s Center for Transition and Career Innovation (CTCI) will over two years evaluate MDSE’s pre-employment transition services program including its outreach efforts and methods of communication, and to develop a new model for assessing and delivering those services.

“The opportunity to work in partnership with the Division of Rehabilitation Services showcases Maryland’s collaborative resolve to affect policies and processes that aim to improve services for students with disabilities and their lives after exiting school,” said Christy H. Stuart, CTCI director.

“This partnership will enable us to explore best-in-class strategies to effectively reach, engage and better serve our students, parents and local education agencies. The focus of this program is to establish a model for assessing and delivering comprehensive services that prepare our students for success,” said Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury.

Every year, MDSE’s Division of Rehabilitation Services (MSDE DORS) receives an average of 3,900 referrals for pre-employment transition services for students ages 14 to 21 who have an Individualized Education Program, a 504 plan or a documented disability.

Current services include job exploration counseling and work-based learning experiences both at and after school, as well as experiences outside of the traditional school setting. Students can also secure internships, receive counseling about transition or post-secondary educational programs, training for workplace readiness training and independent living, and instruction in self-advocacy.

"Partnerships like this are critical to creating inclusive organizations and companies,” said University of Maryland President Darryll J. Pines. “Individuals with different abilities can contribute to the workforce in a variety of ways, and tapping into the College of Education’s expertise in this way marks a significant step forward."

“This work is a core part of our College’s commitment to promoting equity in education and society, and we are excited about the opportunity to work and learn alongside our MSDE partners,” added Kimberly Griffin, dean of the College of Education.