Grant Funding Enables the Continuation of Appstate’s SDAP Program

Anna Ward, the director of Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program (SDAP) at Appalachian State University, Cate Smith, and Dr. Mandy Harrison, received a $1.114 million grant from the Transition Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities into Higher Education (TPSID) program on October 1st of 2015. This grant enables universities and colleges to provide educational services for students with intellectual disabilities and will assist Appalachian’s SDAP program to continue for the next five years.

Founded in 2011, the Scholars with Diverse Abilities Program (SDAP) prepares and empowers students to live independently within their home communities. Some necessary services provided by SDAP include a person centered approach to individual planning as students determine their individual career path. The British Association for the Person-Centred Approach defines this philosophy as a non-directive approach to supporting an individual. This philosophy is rooted in Carl Rogers’ theory that individuals possess the potential and ability to make healthy choices when provided with a safe and supportive environment (British Association for the Person-Centred Approach, 2015).

In SDAP, students decide how much support they need with class attendance and assignments, and are assisted by staff members, graduate assistants, and Appalachian student volunteers. Student volunteers go with SDAP students to class and help them take notes and complete assignments. Graduate assistants and staff members help SDAP students stay organized, learn practical life skills, attend work and classes on time, as well as find leisure campus activities to participate in. With staff assistance, every student develops personal, academic, and social goals which ultimately increase student autonomy, self-reliance, social relationships, and participation in healthy leisure activities.

By receiving the TPSID grant the SDAP program will help students reach their goals of living independent and successful lives. As research has indicated, ‘‘youth with intellectual disabilities who participated in postsecondary education were 26% more likely to leave vocational rehabilitation services with a paid job and earn a 73% higher weekly income’’ (Migliore, Butterworth, & Hart, 2009, p. 1). Although, students in the SDAP program do not earn degrees, they gain key skills to find employment in a career that they will enjoy.

For more information about the SDAP program, please contact Anna Ward at 828.262.8389 or visit

British Association for the Person-Centred Approach. (2015). What is the Person-Centred Approach? Retrieved from

Migliore, A., Butterworth, J. & Hart, D. (2009). Postsecondary education and employment outcomes for youth with intellectual disabilities [Think College Fast Facts No. 1]. Boston, MA: University of Massachusetts Boston, Institute for Community Inclusion.


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