At this year’s Celebrate! Colorado State University awards reception, the Center for Community Partnerships was honored with the Distinguished Community Engagement Scholarship Award. The award is given by CSU’s Office of the Provost and Office of Engagement in recognition of exceptional “collaboration between CSU faculty and staff and their community partner(s) for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.”
For the CCP, whose very name speaks of engaging and partnering with the community, the award is seen as recognition of over 30 years of supporting and empowering more than 1,500 people with disabilities in Northern Colorado through collaborative community-based programs.
Service and outreach in supporting people with disabilities has been a cornerstone of the CCP’s mission since its inception in 1985. “The center originated as a transition program for people with disabilities who wanted to participate in integrated, community employment,” said Cynthia Tate, an employment consultant at the CCP. “That was in 1985, a time when supported employment was a foreign concept to most.”
Today the CCP is grounded in a three-fold mission of service, education and research. “It’s a perfect combination,” says Tate, “for spurring service innovation, project replication and a growing reputation as a national leader.”
Community and campus-wide partnerships
The CCP attributes its success to its longstanding partnerships with community organizations such as the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the Poudre School District, Foothills Gateway Inc. and the U.S. Veterans Affairs VITAL Initiative Program and others. For the CCP, “community” includes the CSU campus, so it is no surprise that the center maintains strong ties with CSU’s Office of Resources for Disabled Students, the Assistive Technology Resource Center, Student Support Services and Residence Life. These mutually-beneficial partnerships have fostered programmatic success through superior research and clinical services.
An example of a university-community partnership model is the Project Search high school transition program. In this program, young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities receive individualized, on-the-job training in a local healthcare facility. The CCP provides supported employment services while the Poudre School District provides onsite classroom instruction, and Foothills Gateway, Inc. and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation provide other strategic support.
“The CCP’s long-standing service and scholarly contributions to the Fort Collins and Northern Colorado communities are unparalleled,” said Jeff McCubbin, Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. Because of its partnerships, the CCP has landed an impressive number of federal and state grants. Additionally, the CCP has contributed to the professional knowledge-base through peer reviewed journals, trainings, presentations and the development of educational materials.
The community benefits from these services, as do students in the Department of Occupational Therapy, where the center is located. Many OT students choose to do their fieldwork internships in the CCP where they learn about community-based occupational therapy practice.
The CCP plans to create a series of video testimonials in which participants share their experiences with CCP interventions. The videos will promote best practices to help other transition programs meet the needs of youth with disabilities who, as a whole, experience the highest rates of unemployment and social marginalization. The hope is that these videos will be used by other programs nationwide to aid in the development of new employer sites for internships and future employment.
CCP staff and community partners pictured above: Megan Wolff, Natalie Rolle, Delia Sosa (VA VITAL Program Coordinator), Craig Spooner, Wanda Leingang, (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Lead Counselor) and Julia Kothe (front row); Holly Darnell, Sara Freeman, James Graham, Cindy Sharpe, Deb Spotts and Cynthia Tate (back row)