The Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, (MAICEI) at Bristol Community College, is opening new doors for public high school students with intellectual disabilities and/or autism, encouraging these students to attend classes and be fully included in all aspects of college life.
With support, students from partnering school districts, ages 18 to 21, are included
in Bristol’s college-level courses, clubs and campus opportunities. Students gain
a better understanding of their career goals and learn the skills they will need to
help find paid employment.
Students who meet the eligibility criteria are enrolled at Bristol by a college advisor, who also assists the student with selecting courses that match their career goals and interests. To ensure students receive the support they need to meet their goals, an education coach is assigned by the school district to provide individualized support, on campus and in online classes.
Anthony Adorno, of Somerset, started attending Bristol Community College in 2020 through the MAICEI program. Initially he took animal care classes, but after one semester, he changed career course and enrolled in a variety of classes in the culinary department. He did exceptionally well and as a result was offered a paying part-time job in his school’s kitchen, using the skills he learned at college. This is the job he still holds today.
“This is such an important initiative that allows students, who otherwise would not be able to go to college, to take classes and be fully included in campus life” said MAICEI Director, Paul Correia. “Our goal has never been to create a disability program, but rather to allow students to be fully included and to continue their learning alongside their peers”.
Recent legislation, included in the state's Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) budget, requires the state’s institutions of public higher education to expand access to higher education for individuals with Down syndrome, autism and other intellectual disabilities. This new law enables such individuals to participate in classes and college activities as nondegree-seeking students, without completing a college entrance exam, meeting GPA requirements and passing other components of enrollment.
In addition, the FY23 budget codified the existing MAICEI grant program, which supports school districts and public institutions of higher education partnering together, offering inclusive educational options for students with disabilities. The program includes $4 million in funding, to maintain expanded learning options for this diverse student population, across the entire public higher education system.
"Thanks to the leadership and support of our partners in public higher education, like Bristol Community College, we were incredibly successful this year in passing a landmark law to expand access to higher education opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome, autism and other intellectual disabilities and provide additional state funds to support our public colleges in educating this diverse student body population." said State Senator, Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (D-Westport). "Because of the guiding example and success of the MAICEI program at Bristol, students with disabilities, across the Southcoast, are able to fully access inclusive educational options and learn side by side with their peers. Without our partners like Bristol or the MAICEI program, none of our collective success to open doors of opportunity and expand access to public higher education for these students would have ever been possible."
Since the initiative began in 2019, Bristol’s MAICEI has supported 19 students who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to attend college. Students have taken a variety of classes including 3-dimensional design, introduction to animal care, basic computing skills, baking skills for cooks, career and exploration seminar, digital photography, sustainable agriculture and elementary American sign language. In the past, Bristol’s MAICEI has partnered with Dighton-Rehoboth, Fall River, North Attleboro, Old Rochester, Somerset-Berkley, Swansea and Westport school districts.
To learn more about The Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) at Bristol Community College, or to complete an application, please visit www.bristolcc.edu/maicei or email MAICEI@BristolCC.edu.