DIDD Awards Tennessee Believes Grants to Five Higher Education Institutions

Grants will go towards creating new inclusive higher education programs and expanding opportunities at current programs for students with intellectual disabilities
Wednesday, May 24, 2023 | 02:54pm

NASHVILLE—The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) announced today that it will award Tennessee Believes grant funding to five higher education institutions across the state.

Chattanooga State Community College will receive funding to create a new inclusive program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities on its campus. Funding was also awarded to Lipscomb University, University of Memphis, East Tennessee State University, and The Union University EDGE Program.

“It’s amazing to see how inclusive higher education programs have provided inclusion and access to students who previously thought college was out of reach for them,” said DIDD Commissioner Brad Turner. “I’m proud that DIDD has played a role in expanding access to more institutions across the state.”

This is the second year of grant funding provided through Tennessee Believes. DIDD received an additional $500,000 from the Governor and Tennessee General Assembly to expand the program’s reach. The department will provide multi-year grants for up to three years to selected colleges and universities as requested in their applications.

The awards are as follows:

  • Chattanooga State Community College: $411,917 over three years to create the Tiger Access Program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The two-year program will focus on life skills, career exploration and job readiness for up to 9 students in its first year.
  • Lipscomb University: $300,000 over three years to provide an Advanced Certificate Program for students in its IDEAL program. This would provide an additional third or fourth year of education while preparing students for independent living and employment.
  • East Tennessee State University: $400,000 for three years to support the transition of students in its ACCESS ETSU program into competitive integrated employment and independent living. ETSU will partner with a community provider, Core Services of Northeast Tennessee, to provide transitional support, including community navigators and job coaches, to ensure long-term success post-graduation.
  • University of Memphis: $375,000 for three years to create a three-year study, called PROOF, focused on expanding current inclusive higher education programs at the University. This includes offering credentials and training for individuals exiting the school system and the TigerLIFE program, piloting a study for expanding into Independent Living, and assessing the feasibility at adding new inclusive programs at other West Tennessee higher education institutions.
  • The Union University EDGE Program: $10,000 for two years to provide groceries and supplies to its Cooking Lab program. The program helps teach EDGE students about cooking and nutrition, so students can gain independence and self-sufficiency while learning important social skills, such as teamwork and communication.

DIDD received a total of eight applications from state institutions for the Tennessee Believes program. The funding will be awarded to the five schools in the coming weeks. Details of in-person check presentations are forthcoming.

Learn more about Tennessee Believes here: https://www.tn.gov/didd/for-consumers/tn-believes.html


About the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) is the state agency responsible for oversight of services and support to Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every day, the department strives to support approximately 12,000 people to live rewarding and fulfilling lives through Medicaid waiver Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), state operated ICF/IIDs, and the Family Support Program. DIDD also provides services to children ages birth up to age three with disabilities or developmental delays through the Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS), and children under the age of 18 with disabilities or complex medical needs through the Katie Beckett Program. The department supports all Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities live the lives they envision for themselves by ensuring people are free to exercise rights, engage with their broader communities and experience optimal health. DIDD is the first state service delivery system in the nation to receive Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation from the Council on Quality and Leadership. It has also been recognized as a national leader in its efforts to increase competitive, community-based employment outcomes for people with disabilities and its commitment to enhancing independence through Enabling Technology.