PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island College’s Sherlock Center on Disabilities has been awarded a federal grant to help students with intellectual disabilities build skills to be more self-sufficient, on the road to successful careers.
The grant, announced Wednesday afternoon by RIC president Nancy Carriuolo and Sen. Jack Reed, is anticipated to provide $1.93 million over five years to expand options in higher education for Rhode Islanders with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In 2013, the Target 12 Investigators first revealed the results of a federal investigation that found a vocational program at Providence’s Harold Birch Vocational School had students performing manual labor for little or no pay. In 2014, 60 student workers who’d worked at Birch were paid more than $250,000 in back wages, after the city and the state settled with the Department of Justice for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under a ten-year agreement, the state of Rhode Island will provide employment and daytime services for about 3,250 residents in traditional work settings, rather than “sheltered workshops” that segregate employees, as Birch had done.
Rhode Island College will receive $386,780 in a Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The mission will be to help students attend college and transition to wholly fulfilling jobs in the workforce.
Right now, no college or universities in Rhode Island offer such a program. About 960 residents are eligible to take part.