Southwest’s Center for Access awarded $50,000 TBR grant to expand services to students with disabilities; Launches autism camp next summer

For more information, contact: Diana Fedinec, Director of Public Relations and Media (901) 333-4247

Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Center for Access (formerly the Office of Student Disabilities) was awarded a $50,000 Student Engagement Retention and Success grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents to advance the academic success of Southwest students with disabilities and engage high school seniors with Autism Spectrum Disorder who desire a college education.

“We truly appreciate the partnership of TBR and its financial support of our efforts to better serve a population that has been historically underserved,” Southwest President Dr. Tracy D. Hall said.  “Access is meaningless if it is not inclusive and is not provided equitably,” Hall added.  “These funds will enable us to reimagine how we serve students with disabilities and expand their access to success at Southwest.”

The Access to Pathways grant project will target Southwest students with disabilities who have a 2.40 GPA or below through a tailored peer mentorship program designed to improve the successful completion of students’ educational goals. Nearly half of the students with disabilities enrolled at the College in 2019-2020 had a 2.40 GPA or below. With the addition of a new program coordinator, the center expects to double the number of students it can help over the course of two years.

The grant also establishes a new annual Access to Pathways Autism Camp, in partnership with the Transformations Autism Treatment Center, for high school graduates with ASD who will be attending Southwest. Often students with ASD encounter stress and anxiety when transitioning to higher education. The three-day camp will be offered in summer to prepare and equip students with the tools and resources needed to navigate college in fall.

“This grant represents a leap forward in our student advocacy efforts as it gives us the opportunity to increase our capacity and personalized supports to students with disabilities,” said Dr. Jacqueline Taylor, associate vice president for Retention and Student Success. “I look forward to the innovative ways in which the Center for Access can meet the needs of this deserving population.”

Students can apply online to attend the camp beginning January 2021. Six openings will be available on a first come, first served basis for the inaugural camp scheduled to open in June 2021.

The grant initiative and rebranding of the Center for Access reinforces the College’s strategic plan to support systemic change where needed, provide an inclusive learning environment focused on increasing social mobility and grow student retention and graduation rates.

For more information about Access to Pathways and Southwest’s Autism Camp, contact Courtney Gipson at