Golisano Foundation Partners with Warner School to Help Youth with Developmental Disabilities in Greater Rochester

Partnership will help empower students with developmental disabilities to pursue hopes, dreams

As part of a continued effort to help youth with developmental disabilities transition to a meaningful adult life, the Golisano Foundation has announced a unique partnership with the University of Rochester's Warner School of Education that will enhance the quality of life for these individuals. The partnership will specifically look at ways to improve the transition process from high school to the real world in which students with disabilities can reach their own hopes and dreams.

"Individuals with developmental disabilities need appropriate support to achieve independence, choice, and the ability to live life to the fullest," said Susan Hetherington, assistant professor at the Warner School. "They want and deserve the same opportunities as other students in planning their futures. This partnership will help fulfill a crucial step in informing and advocating for long-term systemic changes needed for improving academic outcomes and preparing for a successful adulthood."

Funded by the Golisano Foundation, the partnership will tap into the expertise of Warner School faculty to develop comprehensive funding and community organizing strategies related to youth with disabilities in the Greater Rochester Area. Martha Mock, assistant professor in teaching and curriculum at the Warner School, and Susan Hetherington, who has joint appointments at the University of Rochester Warner School and in the Department of Pediatrics in the Medical School, where she is an assistant professor of clinical pediatrics and education, will co-direct the project.

The coordinated efforts will be closely tied to the recommendations derived from Phase I of the Golisano transition funding to the Collaborative Community Transition Planning Process to better understand the issues, challenges, and opportunities for improving outcomes of high school students with disabilities and their families.

"We are inspired by the noble work that the Warner School has done on systems change and school reform," said Ann Costello, foundation director at the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation. "As we look ahead, we are not only compelled to tap into their experience, but also to rely on their connections and relationships with local educators, administrators, and agencies to strengthen communications, and work together on improving the transition process."

The partnership comes at a time when national and statewide data and research show that students with developmental disabilities continue to struggle through the transition process from secondary education to the adult world.

"We are extremely grateful for the support of the Golisano Foundation on such an important mission that truly deserves much-needed attention," said Mock. "This collaboration will help us to clearly articulate next steps as a community. Together, we hope to build on the collective vision created by the collaborative community transition process and continue our work with schools, agencies, parents, and youth with disabilities to improve the transition process."

The Golisano Foundation awards grants to organizations helping individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. Since its inception, the Foundation has supported programs and initiatives on behalf of an underserved, largely unrecognized segment of the population. In serving as a proactive partner with service providers, organizations, and the community, the Foundation has enabled those with disabilities to more fully participate in the life of the community and created an environment of dignity and care for these individuals and their families.

Tags: developmental disabilities, disabilities, Golisano Foundation, inclusion, Martha Mock, Susan Hetherington, transition