Kansas City's EXCEL campaign is dedicated to integrating individuals with intellectual disabilities into the community through higher education and a commitment to an inclusive society.

  • More than 120 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. currently offer meaningful, post-secondary education programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Often, these programs provide students with an opportunity to live on campus, earn a post-secondary degree or certificate and find gainful employment upon completing the program.
  • Beyond gaining improved job opportunities, those students who participate in these programs benefit from increased self-esteem and decreased reliance on social support services.
  • Host universities and their traditional student population benefit by having created a unique social and educational experience. In particular, those students studying fields such as psychology, social services, education and healthcare experience the greatest social and educational gains.
  • The majority of programs (74 percent) support students with disabilities who are dually enrolled in high school and college. Thirty-three percent of the programs support adult students with intellectual disabilities in post-secondary education programs (Some programs support both.)
  • Parents and local education agencies initiate the majority of these programs.
  • Families are expressing an increased desire for their children with intellectual disabilities to obtain a post-secondary education after exiting the school system. When surveyed about desired post-school outcomes, 36 percent of parents of students with intellectual disabilities and other low-incidence disabilities indicated that a four-year college was their first choice. Twenty-two percent of parents wanted a community college.
  • The majority of post-secondary programs identify "attitude" and "low expectations" as the most significant barriers to overcome. Additional barriers, in order of significance, are funding, including access to student financial aid for students with disabilities who lack a high school diploma; transportation; and entrance requirements, including "ability to benefit" tests.
  • A matched-cohort follow-up study of 40 students with intellectual disabilities looked at 20 students who had some type of post-secondary experience (noncredit audit, certificate course, courses for credit, fully matriculating) and 20 with no post-secondary experience. Findings revealed that students with intellectual disabilities who had some type of post-secondary experience were much more likely to obtain competitive employment, required fewer supports, and earned higher wages. Additionally, students had increased self-esteem and expanded social networks that included students without disabilities, and all involved had overall higher expectations for these students.
  • A survey conducted with 13 programs in one state revealed that 87 percent of the 163 students in programs at post-secondary sites were involved in employment training, 36 percent were enrolled in a typical college course, and over half participated in activities on the college campus after school hours. All exiting students were linked to an adult service agency or community rehabilitation program as they exited. Seventy-nine percent qualified for Social Security benefits, 84 percent had a job for the summer, and 65 percent exited with a paying job.