HCN News & Notes

Grant to Help Westfield State Continue Supporting Students with Intellectual Disabilities

WESTFIELD — Westfield State University has been awarded a $145,012 grant by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE) to enhance and continue its support of students with intellectual disabilities. The grant will continue to benefit student participants in Westfield State’s Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI), as announced by MDHE Commissioner Noe Ortega.

In a letter to Westfield State University President Linda Thompson, Ortega thanked the university for its participation in the program, noting that, “thanks to the leadership of institutions like yours, Massachusetts has distinguished itself as a national leader in creating authentic, inclusive learning opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities.”

MAICEI is a state-funded grant program that provides dual-enrollment opportunities to high-school students, ages 18 to 21, with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in an inclusive college experience. Students of the MAICEI program build their independence and enhance their quality of life through the college experience.

In a letter, Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kimberly Driscoll also thanked the leadership of Westfield State in continuing and supporting MAICEI programming. “We want to thank you for your commitment to providing academic, social, and career-development opportunities for young adults with intellectual disabilities,” they wrote. “Through this funding and your support, we hope to expand access to great educational opportunities for every student in the Commonwealth.”

President Thompson emphasized MAICEI’s connection to Westfield State’s mission and values, noting that “Westfield State University is committed to provide an educational environment where all students can thrive and flourish, providing the skills, knowledge, and tools to realize success in their chosen occupation. We are proud to be one of 14 institutions around the state that participate in this important initiative, and we look forward to continuing our efforts in offering programs that guide our students toward achieving their goals.”

Lyndsey Nunes, director of Westfield State’s MAICEI, added that “we are extremely grateful to the administration, staff, faculty, and students at Westfield State. It is the commitment of the entire campus community to authentic inclusion that has allowed us to build our program over the last 11 years and be part of a national movement, creating a more accepting and inclusive society.”