From the Nominator
The TSTEP Implementation in Community Colleges project was funded by the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, led by the University of North Carolina's renowned TEACCH Autism Program, and implemented at three community colleges.
The project was originally conceived to pilot UNC's already successful high school-based T-STEP program (the TEACCH School Transition to Employment Program) at Wake Technical Community College.
The goal was to support 16- to 21-year-old students on the autism spectrum in their transition from high school to secondary education and the workforce. NCDVR's Competitive Grant for Pre-Employment Transition Services presented the project planning team a near perfect alignment of goals, resources, expertise, and funder requirements. The two educational institutions collaborated further to design a project that would combine T-STEP with additional funder-required counseling and student support services already available at Wake Tech.
From the Judges
Judges appreciate the systems approach to this project. It certainly takes a holistic view to provide quality services that result in positive outcomes. It is also multi-layered in that engagement ranges from the participants themselves to the state level, with the potential for strong advocacy and policy changes for the ASD population to live successful, enriched lives.
The grant application thoroughly addressed the category questions and provided an exemplary description of the TEACCH project, the collaborations involved, a well-defined goal, detailed processes, and targeted reach. The quality of the program is admirable and serves an essential community need.