This article by Dave Shelles first appeared on the Kennesaw State University website, republished with permission
“This grant will make it possible for even more students to attend the academy and benefit from all we offer,” said Neil Duchac, executive director of the Academy. “The Home Depot is very kind, and we greatly appreciate their generous contribution to our program.”
Duchac said, “The grant will endow a partial scholarship for one student annually while also providing 30 smaller scholarships in the fall to help students defray the costs of their education.”
Based in the Wellstar College of Health and Human Services, the Academy provides an inclusive post-secondary college experience for students with intellectual or developmental disabilities. According to Duchac, the goal of the Academy is to help students prepare for successful careers so that they can lead more independent lives. The Academy staff do this by focusing on academic enrichment, enhanced social interactions and career development.
Research shows that students who complete these types of programs have increased employment rates and achieve higher earnings than students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with only a high school education.
Established in 2009, Kennesaw State’s Academy is the oldest and largest in the state. In August, the academy will welcome approximately 50 students for the fall semester. Program participants audit one typical university course per semester, while taking an additional three classes specific to the academy. Additionally, each student takes a course through the College of Professional Education.
Students also receive academic and career counseling support, participate in internships and work with peer counselors, KSU students who advise and assist them in their audited classes and encourage campus social engagement.
This grant extends a longstanding relationship between The Home Depot and Kennesaw State University that includes faculty grants, internships for students, lectures by company executives and more. Most recently, the company sent 35 volunteers to help on KSU’s annual Day of Service in April, providing not only people but also funding and supplies for a landscaping project at Northwest Classical Academy, a K-12 charter school in Cobb County.