Propel Program

The Propel Program is a comprehensive college experience for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

  • Enjoy a 2-year, full-time, college experience
  • Complete 16 classes total – 8 per year
  • Attend classes with non-Propel, undergraduate students 75% of the time
  • Supported by academic coaching, undergraduate mentors, and other student support services
  • Earn the Leadership, Employment, and Community Engagement Certificate
  • Live on campus (available but not required)


UMKC Institute for Human Development, College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, and Department of Psychology received grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education to create a high-quality, inclusive, model program for college students with intellectual disabilities.

Going to college can be a transformative experience for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Over 200 colleges – public universities, private colleges/universities, and community colleges – include students with intellectual disabilities on campus. Propel: UMKC’s Program for Self-Determination and Employment will be an academically inclusive postsecondary education program.  The Propel program strategy is to provide a stable, strong foundation for students to live their adult lives in inclusive communities with satisfying employment in a competitive work environment, residential living of their choice, and friends with and without disabilities. This strong foundation will be built through going to college: developing career interests; gaining experience from work-based learning; taking classes with other UMKC students; residential living, and social/recreational opportunities.

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Propel provides a two-year credential program that includes student learning outcomes across academic, vocational, social, and independent living domains with a particular emphasis on self-determination and employment. Students completing the Propel program earn the Leadership, Employment, and Community Engagement Certificate which was approved by the Missouri Department of Higher Education in April 2016.  In addition, the project provides a Bridge to College program to prepare high school students with IDD for successful transition to postsecondary education. Through their college experience, Propel students build capacity to set and work toward personal goals; build friendships; live independently; seek competitive employment; use technology; and navigate resources. Their families have increased knowledge of how to support their family member with IDD through college, in finding employment, building self-determination, and supporting their community participation.

The target population is individuals with IDD, especially students of color and students from an economically disadvantaged background in the Kansas City urban core.  The project will serve an estimated 100 students through the Bridge component and 60 students in the two-year program. Participating partners include the the UMKC College of Arts & Sciences, the UMKC Psychology Department, UMKC Student Affairs,  EITAS (the Jackson County DD agency), Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation, three local school districts, and local organizations including the YMCA and EXCEL (a local foundation).



For specific information about Propel – the undergraduate certificate, courses, and student learning outcomes – please visit the UMKC catalog.


Now accepting applications for the Propel class of 2019.  Visit Admissions!