COURTESY OF MARCUS POPPEN
A team from the WSU College of Education received a two-year $300,000 grant to prepare students who receive special education services for employment after graduation.
Marcus Poppen, assistant professor of special education, said the grant helps his team focus on partnering with neighboring schools and businesses to get students full-time jobs.
The grant was awarded by the Washington State Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. The grant follows regulations from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The act ensures all students who are eligible to receive special education services are getting the help and resources they need, Poppen said.
Poppen said his team plans to learn more about how partnering with willing employers and schools will help students prepare for life after college. His team wants to improve these partnerships so students can have greater access to those services in the future.
“We are trying to support students finding jobs that are going to allow them to grow in their careers and have opportunities for upward expansion and promotions later on in their career,” he said.
Holly Whittenburg, assistant professor of special education, said the team wants the students they work with to be better equipped to achieve the goals that they set for themselves in their careers.
“By forming these relationships with schools and businesses, the team hopes to eliminate the stigma that students receiving special education services can only do beginning level jobs,” Whittenburg said.
The team also works with the Responsibility Opportunities Advocacy and Respect program. This helps students receiving special education services navigate through college and prepare them for life, Whittenburg said.
“There are a lot of cool things happening here at WSU in terms of special education research,” Poppen said.
The world of vocational rehabilitation research is still new. Poppen said he and his team hope to better understand the relationships between vocational rehabilitation services while students are still in school, as well as the long-term positive effects it has on the students.
“People with disabilities are more than capable of having complicated, complex and interesting jobs,” Whittenburg said.
Poppen’s and Whittenburg’s team also consists of Lauren Bruno, assistant professor of special education, and Don McMahon, associate professor of special education.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated. The grant is not funding the team’s research because it has already been completed. The grant funds programs created for students who receive special education services to help them gain employment experience before gradation.