ASPIRE Program accepting applications

Sandy Hageness
Special to Devils Lake Daily Journal

BOTTINEAU - Dakota College at Bottineau’s ASPIRE program is currently taking applications for the spring 2022 semester. ASPIRE (Action and Support to Promote Inclusive Readiness Experiences) program at Dakota College at Bottineau is a partnership with North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD). This project is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education TPSID grant to NDCPD. It is a three-year post-secondary education program for students ages 18-21 which offers an inclusive and supportive environment for students with intellectual disabilities.

ASPIRE (Action and Support to Promote Inclusive Readiness Experiences) program at Dakota College at Bottineau is a partnership with North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities (NDCPD). This project is funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education TPSID grant to NDCPD. It is a three-year post-secondary education program for students ages 18-21 which offers an inclusive and supportive environment for students with intellectual disabilities.

ASPIRE students can attend college courses on the Dakota College at Bottineau campus, earn meaningful credentials, gain employment, and learn independent living and social skills. ASPIRE’s goal is to make the dream of college a reality for students with intellectual disabilities and create quality futures to live and work in their communities. “We are excited that the ASPIRE program offers students with intellectual disabilities accessibility to post-secondary education, and at the same time, to be part of a Dakota College and the Bottineau community where students can earn credentials, employment opportunities, independent living and social skills. Dakota College is proud to be a part of providing this opportunity for ASPIRE students.”

Utilizing a person-centered plan for each student, ASPIRE focuses on personal goals, career planning, and an inclusive education plan to help students learn employment and self-advocacy skills while working on independence skills. Upon program completion, students receive a meaningful career focused certificate; College-to-Career Certification or a Certification and/or degree.

Through a variety of supports and partners, ASPIRE collaborates with students including peer mentors, natural supports, campus academic support services and community supports. Peer mentors use college students that support individuals in all areas of the program. These roles include academic support, job coaching, social support, and independent living skills training. Peer mentors assist students with integration into an inclusive campus environment and are key to the success of the program.

Beth MacDonald, ASPIRE Project coordinator shares, “I have seen first-hand what a program like the ASPIRE program provides students with intellectual disabilities. The opportunity for growth in academics, employment, and independent living and social skills grows with each semester completed and I am proud to be a part of this!” Students interested in the ASPIRE program start by using the eligibility process. The process may be initiated by the student, parent/guardian, teacher or other professional (VR, DD). More details may be found on the Dakota College at Bottineau website www.dakotacollege.edu/ASPIRE or by emailing ASPIRE@dakotacollege.edu. If you would like to speak with a representative, contact Beth MacDonald, Project Coordinator – 701-228-5426 or Penny Belgarde, Project Director – 858-4339.