DURHAM, N.H. - The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the John Vance ACCESS Fund, a donor-advised fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, to support the implementation of the UNH-4U program, a new initiative providing an inclusive college experience to students with intellectual disabilities.  The IOD is currently seeking an additional $150,000 in matching contributions necessary to begin the admissions process for students.  

“UNH-4U will combine traditional classroom time with inclusive housing options, peer mentoring and academic coaches from same-age peers,” said Tobey Partch-Davies, Project Director on Poverty and Disability at the UNH-Institute on Disability. “We’re excited to establish a model that will help young people with intellectual disabilities achieve their life goals through meaningful careers and social endeavors in all aspects of adulthood.  The John Vance ACCESS Fund’s belief in our work is invaluable to this initiative.”

More than 35,000 residents living in New Hampshire have an intellectual disability. Youth and young adults with intellectual disabilities are significantly more likely to be underemployed and live in povertythan their same-age peers. The majority of these young people, particularly those from low-income families, lack access to meaningful post-secondary education and career opportunities that would help them change these outcomes.

UNH-4U will be an inclusive two-year Comprehensive Transition Program on the University of New Hampshire’s Durham campus. It has the support of stakeholders and partners from across the university and the state. Beyond improving academic and competitive employment outcomes, UNH-4U will provide an authentic campus life experience including opportunities for social development, independent living, and recreational endeavors.

“We are pleased to support the UNH Institute on Disability’s implementation of the UNH4U program.  Providing individuals with inclusive educational opportunities that contribute to rewarding work, career, and personal opportunities was precisely the work of my father, John Vance, and the dedicated staff of A.C.C.E.S.S., Inc. for over 20 years,” said Jason Vance, advisor of the John Vance ACCESS Fund.  “We are excited by the partnerships involved both within the University and with outside partners, and believe there exists a great need for this innovative educational model in New Hampshire, and beyond.”

For more information about the UNH-4U, please visit https://iod.unh.edu/projects/unh-4u-and-think-college-nh or contact Tobey Partch-Davies at tobey.partch-davies@unh.edu.

The Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire was established in 1987 to provide a coherent university-based focus for the improvement of knowledge, policies, and practices related to the lives of persons with disabilities and their families. Its mission is to promote full access, equal opportunities, and participation for all persons by strengthening communities and advancing policy and systems change, promising practices, education, and research.

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.