Empowerment and Education
Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are the fastest growing diversity group entering higher education across the nation. Research shows that only 40% of students with ASD will complete their degrees, yet students with the UI Raven Scholars program have a graduation rate of 80%. The Raven Scholars program started with just four students in fall 2011. We currently serve up to 30 students per semester and are seeing ever-growing demand to serve more students. The Raven Scholar program is a free, donations-based support service for University of Idaho students with ASD and has a retention and graduation rate of 80%!
Students on the spectrum are accepted to the colleges on their own merit, but all too often, they soon begin to flounder because of the lack of structure. Supports for these challenges are not built into the accommodations required by the Americans with Disability Act, nor are they addressed in other typical student services. With recognition of this gap in U of I services for students with ASD, Tom Alberg and Judi Beck of the Raven Trust generously donated seed funds to develop such supports in the Raven Scholars program.
Raven Scholar students require a unique kind of support to meet their goals. Our program supplies support in ways that other programs and services are unequipped to deliver. We offer individualized support such as advocacy, one-on-one skills training, services coordination, case management, and intervention for early warning grades or faculty and staff concerns. The largest difficulty we face is funding.
Without additional financial support, we will only be able to operate on a bare-bones budget, understaffed and unable to fully meet the needs of this growing population with integrity. We want to expand our supports with additional part-time staffing but are unable to meet the demand with our current financial resources. With a part-time Social and Academic Coach we can provide services to additional students and will not have to wait-list any applicants for the program.