Autism Speaks has awarded NYIT’s Vocational Independence Program a $25,000 grant for student scholarships. The grant, from the Brian & Patricia Kelly Post-Secondary Scholarship Fund, will allow the Vocational Independence Program to offer five $5,000 need-based scholarships to students.
NYIT’s VIP is a nationally recognized program that focuses on academics, independent living, social skills development, and vocational exploration and training for students with special needs, including those with autism and learning disabilities. Autism Speaks awarded scholarship money to programs across the country based on the programs’ outreach efforts and initiatives to prepare students for jobs and life after college.
“This is an exciting opportunity for students in the Vocational Independence Program and it helps lessen some of the barriers for students on the autism spectrum in higher education,” said Ernst Van Bergeijk, VIP associate dean and executive director. “Students with autism are bright, capable people who make excellent employees.
They just need to be given the opportunity for education and the chance to thrive.”
On its website, Autism Speaks notes that the organization looks closely on how colleges and programs conduct outreach to students to apprise them of opportunities and how the program prepares participants for “post-college life.”
Van Bergeijk said VIP seeks to transition students either to the working world and independent living or to a full-time college program. Some VIP students at NYIT have interned at large retail or hotel chains while others have taken courses on NYIT’s Old Westbury campus as they pursue a college degree.
“Regardless of the sequence a student follows, they have wrap-around support of a team of professionals to help them transition to post-secondary life, and they will have a vocational experience,” he added.
VIP will hold an open house at its Central Islip location at 10 am on March 28.