TN Believes

The University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID) proposes to investigate and research inclusive transition models, to develop and disseminate tools and resources to improve diverse participation, to increase independent living and certificate attainment, to increase the involvement of Institutions of Higher Education, administration, faculty and non-disabled individuals with inclusive programming, and to replicate UMID’s best practices in providing Career Development and Transition Programs (CDTP) through agency partnerships in the Memphis/Shelby region and West Tennessee. UMID’s mission is to further close the gap between secondary education and inclusive gainful employment. The University of Memphis Institute on Disability administers the TigerLIFE program, an Inclusive Higher Education (IHE) program with a proven record for providing vocational opportunities for people with Intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The person-centered transition from high school to integrated employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities has been a topic of interest for educators and vocational rehabilitation specialists for decades. The field of Intellectual Disability has made major strides in promoting the transition to work. UMID has also accomplished great milestones, but greater work is still needed to close the gap between secondary education and inclusive gainful employment for our population of young adults.

The University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID) is seeking funding through the Tennessee Believes grant to expand its current inclusive higher education (IHE) programs over 3 years by implementing and an exploration into three key projects.

  • First, UMID aims to offer credentials for individuals exiting secondary education and the TigerLIFE program, which has been identified as meeting all eight points of the Absolute Priority set by the State of Tennessee Department of Human Services Training programs.
  • Second, the grant will be used to pilot a feasibility study for expansion into Independent Living, allowing UMID to continue its mission of promoting inclusion and diversity on college campuses.
  • Third, UMID aims to pilot a second feasibility study for implementing an Inclusive Post-Secondary Education program at Southwest Community College, Memphis, Tennessee. Then the IHE TigerLIFE program expanded to the University of Memphis Lambuth campus in Jackson, Tennessee.

While the TN Believes proposal is focused on the IDD population, UMID has extensive experience across all disabilities in its research, training, service, and academic mission. UMID was created in 2007 at the University of Memphis to serve all aspects of improving the quality of life for persons with disabilities in Tennessee and Beyond. Other funded research has focused on multicultural and underserved populations across various disability groups and areas of interest. Additionally, we have a strong relationship with the Department of Human Services, especially the State of Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation agency, in our capacity as a Community

Rehabilitation Provider (CRP), which includes assessment, job placement, and Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) contracts.

The proposed projects will enable UMID to provide vital support and training for students with disabilities, empowering them with the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the workforce and further gain independence and a Systems Approach to Life Transitions (SALT). Overall, the proposed projects will advance UMID's mission to create a more inclusive and diverse community while contributing to the State of Tennessee's economic growth and development.