The University Participant Program at Western Carolina University was awarded $19,500 from the Evergreen Foundation of Waynesville to provide stipends to current program participants.
The WCU UP Program was developed in 2007 as a pilot postsecondary education program designed to provide a two-year, full-time, inclusive, on-campus living and learning experience for college-age people who have intellectual disabilities. The overriding purpose was to facilitate the transition of participants from secondary school to a successful adult life.
In 2010, the program received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to operate for five years as a model-demonstration program.
At WCU, UP Program learning activities are developed for each participant through an individualized, person-centered planning process that focuses on five learning areas: personal development, community participation, vocational preparation, social participation and learning, and academic course auditing.
The activities that each UP Program participant engages in are tailored to his or her individual interests, and participants’ on-campus life is fully integrated and inclusive with other students at WCU. UP participants live on campus in WCU residence halls under the same guidelines and policies that apply to all WCU students.
Also to help participants succeed, WCU undergraduate students are recruited to support and help facilitate participants living in residence halls, attending classes, engaging in social and recreational activities, becoming involved in student organizations, and developing natural friendships and relationships. In addition, the UP Program collaborates with a range of community agencies that provide additional support to participants.
Those who complete the program are eligible for a UP Certificate of Accomplishment from the WCU Division of Educational Outreach.
This year, there are eight UP Program participants living and learning on the WCU campus, and all funds from the Evergreen Foundation will provide financial support for the participants who must pay all of the same fees and expenses that traditionally enrolled WCU students pay.
For more information about the WCU UP Program, visit the program’s web site at up.wcu.edu or call 828-227-3297.