Northeastern Illinois University’s Department of Counselor Education has been awarded a five-year grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services totaling $950,000.
The Rehabilitation Long-Term Training Program grant will allow Northeastern to provide training leading to a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling addressing a number of key national concerns, including the shortage of rehabilitation counselors with master's degrees.
The project began on Oct. 1, 2015, and is renewable annually through Sept. 30, 2020. At least 75 percent of the grant money is allocated for student scholarships and stipends.
“Northeastern is proud to be launching this program,” Department of Counselor Education Chair Chuck Pistorio said. “There is a great demand for the professional rehabilitation counselor given the aging of the population, the growing diversity of the population, the high incidence of disability and legislation that seeks to improve the quality of life of persons with disability and their vocational opportunity, productivity, and integration into society.”
The Rehabilitation Counseling Program (RCP) will include three tracks of students over the course of the five-year project:
- El Valor cohort: The planning is underway with El Valor, a Chicago nonprofit with nationally recognized bilingual, bicultural programs that work with underserved communities and people with disabilities, to offer RCP’s first cohort beginning in summer 2016. This cohort will complete its courses and internship in summer 2019.
- Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services cohort: The second cohort will begin in fall 2017 and complete its courses and internship in summer 2020.
- Regular admission: The remainder of the RCP students will be admitted two times per year through the regular process for the Department of Counselor Education.
The grant will allow the Department of Counselor Education to continue to develop and enhance Northeastern’s strong community partnerships to support collaborations that promote the participation of academically gifted individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups. The proposed project will produce racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse graduates.
This project seeks to recruit, retain and graduate 80 Rehabilitation Counseling students over the course of five years, eventually placing them into the state or federal system of vocational rehabilitation.