Grant for KSU academy will help create job opportunities

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jul 15, 2020

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion has been awarded a grant from the Administration for Community Living which will allow Kennesaw State’s Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth to create more work opportunities within the university for individuals with disabilities.

The Academy, housed in the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services, offers students with different intellectual or developmental abilities the opportunity for a college experience, including living on campus. Academy students audit college-level courses in the two-year certificate program that was the first in Georgia to offer post-secondary educational opportunities to persons with different intellectual and developmental abilities.

“We sought a partnership with the Academy because the ACL’s Challenge to American Businesses has a particular focus on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and this is the population served by the Academy,” said Sylvia Carey-Butler, KSU’s Chief Diversity Officer. “Increasing meaningful employment of people with disabilities at KSU is consistent with the vision of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to create a culture of inclusion at KSU where all members of our community can achieve excellence, succeed, and thrive.”


The ACL grant award of $20,000 will support paid internships for students in the Academy for Inclusive Learning, through a partnership with disABILITY LINK, an Atlanta-area center for independent living that provides people with disabilities an opportunity to live and work on their own. Through the partnership, disABILITY LINK will provide training to those supervising the students and to KSU supervisors who employ people with disabilities.

“One of the parameters of the funding challenge was to increase job opportunities for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They were looking for innovative models with a focus on career development, which is a key component of our program,” AILSG Academic Program Specialist Celia Scragg said. “The funding will enable the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth to increase the number of paid internship opportunities for our students. ODI also brought on board several campus departments to offer our students additional paid internship positions that didn’t exist prior to our partnership. Academy students are great employees and giving them the opportunity to showcase their skills, and be paid for their efforts, benefits everyone involved.”


ACL’s Challenge to American Businesses seeks innovative models to expand the talent pipeline of individuals with disabilities that could be replicated by other business and organizations. Of the 60 proposals submitted, ACL reviewers recognized KSU's model as having this potential, and the monetary award is considered compensation for creating this model.

“As we succeed in fulfilling the main objective of this project by increasing overall employment of people with disabilities at KSU, we plan to highlight the ways in which faculty and staff with disabilities can enhance innovation, improve productivity, and reduce the costs of turnover. By doing so, we can demonstrate to our broader community that KSU values and fosters diversity in all its manifestations,” Carey-Butler said.

ACL was formed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a nonprofit governmental organization that seeks to maximize the wellbeing and health of older adults, people with disabilities across the lifespan and their families and caregivers. Its vision is “for all people, regardless of age and disability, to live with dignity, make their own choices and participate fully in society,” according to its website.

– Dave Shelles

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit