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Project REACH: Resources and Education on Autism as CUNY’s Hallmark – an Autism Initiative at City University of New York:REACH is a project developed at City University of New York (CUNY) to build capacity to better serve the growing population of college students with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Since CUNY students operate within a complex web of people and structures, the program aims to educate faculty and staff about students with ASD. Students with ASD are among the fastest growing populations of college students. CUNY expects its population of students with ASD to grow exponentially over the next few years. CUNY’s mission is to provide affordable and accessible higher education opportunities to ALL New Yorkers, especially those who have historically not had access to higher education opportunities, like students on the autism spectrum. Inclusive higher education is the next great civil rights movement, and CUNY wants to lead this movement by cultivating a University environment that promotes the success and full participation of students with ASD.
An investment by the FAR Fund empowers CUNY to develop and implement a replicable programming model on its campuses to increase the quality and quantity of supports to students with ASD at CUNY in order to improve the quality of their college experience, their persistence, and their degree attainment. At the same time, it will affect the University’s culture through education on the higher educational needs of this rapidly increasing student population. As part of the planning process, we will formulate specific strategies about what services/activities to provide; to whom they should be provided; who should provide the services, when they should be provided. Planning grant activities include creating an Advisory Board and gathering information about supports/activities for CUNY students with ASD; identifying Implementation panel to guide project staff on implementation, questions and issues; selecting specific CUNY schools to develop and model best practices; identifying activities for the training of staff of offices for students with disabilities on ASD; and identifying methods to involve CUNY faculty in training activities.