Westfield State University has been awarded a $115,000 state grant to enhance its support of students with intellectual disabilities.
The grant will support student participants in Westfield State’s Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI), as announced by Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago, Ph.D.
“Thanks to the leadership of institutions like yours, Massachusetts has distinguished itself as a national leader in creating authentic inclusive learning opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities,” Santiago stated in a letter to Westfield State University Interim President Roy H. Saigo, Ph.D.
Entering its eighth year of operation, Westfield State’s MAICEI program will use the state money to continue to partner with 11 area school districts and provide its students with a stellar learning experience.
“We are excited to continue these initiatives and increase our partnerships to provide area students with more options and support for inclusive post-secondary education,” said Lyndsey Nunes, coordinator of Westfield State’s MAICEI.
President Saigo lauded MAICEI’s devotion to the University’s values.
“The MAICEI program follows Westfield State mission and enables an expansion of its inclusive community and ongoing support of the personal development of its members,” he said. “This funding allows the University to continue to diversify its student enrollment while creating more opportunities for motivated individuals to earn a college education.”
All funding associated with this grant is ultimately subject to the FY2021 final state budget allotment and appropriations.
About the MAICEI at Westfield State
The MAICEI provides dual-enrollment opportunities for students ages 18–21 that have intellectual disabilities and are still receiving special education services through their school districts. MAICEI students enroll in 100- and 200-level courses alongside traditional day students at Westfield State. Course choices generally reflect the MAICEI students’ long-term employment goals.
Westfield State is one of 15 MAICEI programs and partners with 11 area school districts: Agawam, Amherst, Chicopee, Hampden Wilbraham, Hampden Charter School of Science, Longmeadow, Ludlow, Southwick Tolland Granville Regional, Springfield, West Springfield, and Westfield.
The MAICEI program began at Westfield State in 2013 with five students and has grown to the second largest in the Commonwealth with 25 students enrolled in 2017–18. In addition to the Westfield State courses, students are offered seminars to target and refine their skills in the areas of academics, employment, social-emotional, and health and wellness. Students also participate in pIeCES (Positive Inclusion of Everyone Creates Educational Success), a student-run peer mentor group that allows MAICEI students to interact with other students on campus, providing opportunities to develop social-emotional skills during weeknight and weekend visits.