Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration features several Think College achievements in their latest issue of Impact Magazine

Community Inclusion
4 min readMay 31, 2022

Impact Magazine at the Institute on Community Integration (ICI Minnesota) is a triannual publication focused on issues that impact people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities. Several staff and consultants from the Institute for Community Inclusion’s (ICI Boston) Think College authored publications in this Spring 2022 issue. Think College Co-Director Meg Grigal and Susanna Miller Raines, Program Manager for Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network, co-edited this compelling issue on Inclusive Higher Education for People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities.

What is Think College all about?

Think College is a national center at the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at UMass Boston. Since 2003, Think College has received 15 federal and state grants to work on issues that impact postsecondary education for students with intellectual disability (ID). Think College is also a call to action. The Think College team raises awareness, enhances existing college opportunities, and creates more opportunities for students with ID to go to college. Cate Weir, Project Coordinator at the Think College National Coordinating Center, wrote Think College! A Program and a Mantra about what Think College means for inclusive higher education.

Assessing Inclusive Higher Ed Programs

Think College’s Co-director, Meg Grigal and Senior Research Associate, Clare Papay co-wrote Inclusive Higher Education: Assessing Progress Toward Better Futures for College Students with Intellectual Disabilities with David R. Johnson from the University of Minnesota. This article highlights model demonstration programs called Transition and Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disability (TPSID), which emphasize supporting students to enroll in typical college courses alongside peers without intellectual disability (ID). Over two-thirds of students who enrolled in TPSID programs had a paid job three years after graduating. But not all inclusive higher education programs receive TPSID funding! Read or listen to the full article to learn more about assessing progress in inclusive higher ed.

several young college students with and without disabilities of various races, ethnicities, genders at their desks learning in a classroom
Accreditation in inclusive higher education will help prospective students and their families measure programs’ quality.

Accreditation for Inclusive Higher Ed Programs

Think College consultant and Senior Policy Advisor for the National Down Syndrome Congress Stephanie Smith Lee co-wrote Accreditation Moves Forward with Martha Mock from the University of Rochester. Accreditation is important for all university programs, including inclusive higher education programs. Accreditation helps assure students, families, colleges, and universities that an inclusive higher education program meets an acceptable level of quality. Read or listen to the full article to learn more about accreditation. Visit Think College’s website to access training modules and materials to help programs meet accreditation standards.

Regional Alliances to Support Inclusive Higher Ed

Inclusive higher education benefits from stakeholder alliances, including groups of representatives from various inclusive higher education programs, key state agencies, organizations, parents, alumni, and students. These alliances can help create learning communities and shared funding opportunities for like-minded inclusive higher education advocates. Learn more about state and regional alliances in Susanna Miller-Raines’ article, The Collective Impact of State and Regional Alliances to Support Inclusive Higher Education. Miller-Raines is the Regional Alliances Manager for the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network.

UMass Boston student, a young Black man with a disability, meets with an education coach, a man of color in his 30s. They are working together at a desk with a laptop.
A MAICEI student meeting with an education coach at University of Massachusetts Boston.

The Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative

Students with ID often stay in high school until age 22, four years longer than their peers who graduate at 18. But students with ID can also graduate at 18 and go to college with their classmates. The Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) provides access and supports that lead to academic, social, and career development success for eligible students with ID alongside their non-disabled peers enrolled in Massachusetts public 2- and 4-year colleges and universities. The MAICEI program gives students with ID the extra support they may need to attend college and complete high school at the same time. ICI Program Director Maria Paiewonsky, Debra Hart, ICI’s Director of Education and Transition, and Mary Price, State Director for the MAICEI at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education co-wrote Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative about the MAICEI program and promising practices that lead to its success.

Student MAICEI Perspective: Nykenge Blue

UMass Boston-MAICEI Partnership Program Coordinator Ashley Luce spoke with Nykenge Blue, a transfer student at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Nykenge transferred from Bunker Hill Community College last year. “Transferring from community college to university hasn’t been easy,” she shared, “It has taken a little longer to get to know people, but I’m proud of myself for getting around campus after just one semester.” Nykenge has taken food history and communication classes at UMass while interning in the food court. Read or listen to the full conversation with Nykenge and Ashley in Campus Conversations.

Student MAICEI Perspective: Samantha Gibbs

ICI’s Maria Paiewonsky spoke with Samantha Gibbs, a first-year student at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, who receives support from MAICEI. Of her experience navigating the college campus, Samantha shared, “You learn to be flexible. You expect your day to go one way, but really it is going the other way. Sometimes you plan to meet someone on campus, and you might get lost. Then you need to find help. One time I was lost on campus, and I had to ask other students for directions.” Read or listen to the full conversation with Samantha and Maria in Campus Conversations.

Read or listen to the full Spring 2022 feature issue of Impact Magazine on Inclusive Higher Education!

Learn more about Think College and access resources for inclusive higher education. You can also share this issue with your networks on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and by email.



Community Inclusion

The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) promotes the inclusion of people with disabilities in school, work, health care and community activities.