Relating to Art: Monthly Art Lessons for People with Disabilities

As people with disabilities grow older, it becomes more and more of a challenge to find suitable recreational activities for them. Relating to Art is a monthly art class held on the second Thursday of every month by the Autism Society of the Heartland for the past few years. The class is held at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Participants learn as they are given tours by instructors who then take them back to the classroom where they do hands-on art activities. Activities range from sculpting to 3D-printing to collage-making.
Fortunately, there are no skill levels necessary for this art class. People can enjoy this class no matter what their skill or background in art is. The classes are taught by instructors who work at the Nelson and are a great way for people with disabilities to come and simply enjoy themselves. The classes are free, but participants must RSVP ahead of time to let instructors know they are coming because there is only a limited amount of space.

To enroll please contact Kate Duffy @ or 816-235-6415

Financial Aid Information Night

Financial Aid Information Night

We encourage all college bound students to complete the FAFSA application!

Where: UMKC, School of Law Library
500 E. 52nd Street, KCMO
When: Thursday, October 11, 2018
Time: 5:30 – 7:30PM

-Not sure how to pay for college? The FAFSA will help you determine your financial aid eligibility!
-Need additional help filing out the FAFSA? Come get on-site help from an expert!

What to Bring
• Social security number
• State issued ID or driver’s license
• Cell phone or personal device (fully charged)
• Alien registration number or permanent residence card if not a US citizen
• Taxable income from 2016 W-2 forms or copy of filed income tax returns
• Taxable income from 2017 W-2 forms or copy of filed income tax returns. Students (if you worked in 2017) AND parents must supply these forms
• Untaxed income, including workers’ compensation; child support; veterans benefits, etc.,

Please RSVP Carol Calhoun @ or 816-235-6816

Bridge to College

Bridge to College is a FREE program offered by UMKC’s Propel Program that prepares high school students and young adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities to successfully transition to college or employment. Students meet weekly for two hours during the spring semester on the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus. Students get an inside look at college life while they make new friends, explore their interests and discover their goals for life after high school.

Students will learn to:

• Advocate for their disability needs effectively.
• Get and keep a job.
• Budget their money.
• Develop and practice skills for building healthy relationships with their peers

Classes: Weekly classes Jan 22-Apr 22, 2019, 4-6 pm, on Tues or Thurs.

To apply, visit:

Application Deadline: Nov 15, 2018 (priority)
Accepted through Dec 15

Questions? Contact: Carol Calhoun,

Propel’s First Graduating Class of 2018

By Ben Edwards

This past Saturday, May 12, UMKC’s Propel Program graduated its first class of nine students, who started in Fall 16. The students graduated alongside their fellow UMKC College of Arts and Sciences students in a packed Swinney Recreation Center.

It’s not easy being the first at anything, but our Cohort 1 Propel students plugged away these past two years, learning how to balance full-time course loads, service-learning internships, their family’s needs, and in some cases, jobs. They also put up with us, the Propel staff, who were learning right alongside them about what makes for a successful transition from high school to college and then on in to the community. We miss you already but are glad you are moving toward your futures.

First Meeting of Midwest Inclusive Post-Secondary Alliance in St. Louis

By Ben Edwards

On Friday, April 20th, the first meeting of the Midwest Inclusive Post-Secondary Alliance (MIPSA) was held at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL) to discuss and advocate for post-secondary education programs for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

The meeting drew 64 people from Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Indiana, Ohio, and South Dakota, twenty-eight of them students. Universities and colleges in attendance included:

  • UMSL
  • University of Missouri at Kansas City
  • University of Central Missouri
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Missouri State University
  • Augustana University
  • University of Missouri-Columbia
  • Missouri Western State University

The meeting began with the attendees being welcomed by UMSL vice-provost Dr. Curt Coonrod. Afterwards the attendees heard from the staff of UMSL’s SUCCEED Program and residential life office. Participants toured Oak Hall dormitory, where SUCCEED students live on campus and listened to presentations and a Q&A with SUCCEED students on topics ranging from homework to laundry to independent living.



Afterwards there was a luncheon, and then some more presentations from Dr. Ann Taylor, the Dean of the UMSL’s College of Education and Dr. Clare Papay from Think College. These presentations talked about post-secondary education programs nationwide. There are currently 266 with four in Missouri.

Students at the conference brainstormed together about ways to improve the college programs, ranging from affordability to students having more freedom as adults on college campuses.

MIPSA’s goal is to promote access to quality inclusive postsecondary education for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Midwest, by collaborating on program development, research, and public policy.



Propel Program Visit Days

The Propel Program hosts weekly visit times every Friday. 

Visit times are at 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

We will discuss the Propel Program, the admission process, tour the campus and answer questions.

If you would like to schedule a visit, or need to schedule an alternate  visit day or time, please email:, 816-235-6340.

Propel Approved as Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program

The Propel Program recently received approval as a Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary (“CTP”) Program from the United States Department of Higher Education.   As an approved CTP Program, Propel students who qualify may receive funding from Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, and Federal Work-Study programs.  This approval paves the way for students who might otherwise not have access to a postsecondary program.  Since UMKC Propel Program does not charge any additional fees, besides those charged to any UMKC student, this approval allows students to pay a large portion of their tuition and fees through these federal programs.

MDHE Approves Certificate

The Missouri Department of Higher Education (“MDHE”) reviewed the proposal of the Leadership, Employment, and Community Engagement Certificate at their April 27, 2016 meeting.  They approved the proposed certificate enabling the Propel Program to grant the Leadership, Employment and Community Engagement Certificate to each student who completes the two-year program.

Suggested Reading

Disability Studies Guide at the library

(Un)learning disability : recognizing and changing restrictive views of student ability by AnnMarie Darrow Baines

No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement 1st Edition by Joseph P. Shapiro

Think College!: Postsecondary Education Options for Students with Intellectual Disabilities by Meg Grigal Ph.D. and Debra Hart M.S.


Why Propel Matters

In keeping with the Coordinating Board for Higher Education’s plan to increase the number of Missourians earning a college degree or certificate, UMKC’s Propel program provides intensive, wrap-around academic, mentoring and career services to ensure its students not only graduate from the two-year program but are also prepared to go immediately to work or complete the post-secondary education needed for their career goals.

In addition, we expect these instructional and support techniques – person-centered planning, peer mentoring, intrusive advising, academic-skill building, and career coaching — will make a significant research-to-practice contribution and can be shared with other Missouri institutions as strategies to raise retention and completion rates for all.

The recently released Coordinating Board’s 2016 “Preparing Missourians to Succeed: A Blueprint for Higher Education” stresses access to higher education for a greater share of Missouri residents as well as a reduction of disparities for students at the state’s colleges and universities. The strategy? Raise completion rates by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender and disability by 50 percent by 2025. UMKC’s Propel can certainly help provide a blueprint for achieving this goal, with its emphasis on practical, learner-centered strategies for student success.

Students applying to Propel will go through a rigorous interview as well as provide references from teachers, counselors and others to show they can be successful at UMKC, that there’s a good person-environment fit. Other federal Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) programs have already demonstrated that students with intellectual/developmental disabilities can be successful in college, increasing their ability to find employment after leaving their program.

In just five years, the TPSID program has supported the creation or expansion of programs at 45 colleges and universities serving 1379 students. Over 70 percent of participating students were involved in career development activities and paid internships. Research has shown that these postsecondary programs for students with ID have had a positive impact on student rates of employment and wages, social networks, self-determination skills, and community living.

Missouri has set a goal for 60 percent of its adults age 24–65 to have a two- or four-year degree or career or technical certificate by 2025. This goal corresponds to the expectation that by 2018, 60 percent of jobs in the state will require a college degree or certificate. Given that in the past five years, college enrollment has decreased by 3.6 percent, something has to be done to open up higher education to more Missourians, including those with disabilities, Veteran status, and lower socioeconomic status.

Financially, the Propel program will pay for itself, covering its teaching and staff costs through the five-year grant. The students will be full-time, each taking 12 credit hours per semester and paying full tuition, for a total of $117,558 per year.  Propel is hiring 10 undergraduate and 2 graduate students in paid positions as mentors and academic coaches and will provide service-learning and internship opportunities for other UMKC students interested in careers working with people with disabilities.