by Dr. Eamon Halpin
LSUA’S SPERO program will receive $120,000 in federal funding made possible by US Congresswoman Julia Letlow, from Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.
The program, which launches in Fall 2022, aims to bring hope to the lives of young people with developmental disabilities—by providing them with the resources and opportunities that will help them lead more independent lives and take up meaningful and rewarding employment in their communities.
The first of its kind on a four-year college campus north of I-10, the SPERO program will be open to young people between the ages of 18 and 28 who have an identified developmental disability; who have completed high school with a high school diploma, career diploma, or equivalent; and are ineligible for regular college admission.
Students admitted to the program will audit some college-level classes; take special program classes designed to improve their daily living skills, interpersonal skills, and employment skills; participate in on-campus events and activities; and receive vocational training either on campus or at approved off-campus venues. Upon completion of the program, each student will be awarded a Certificate of Achievement and receive assistance in finding useful employment in the CENLA area.
“The SPERO program at LSUA will have a wonderful impact on the citizens of CENLA. We’re incredibly proud to secure this funding and guide it through the appropriations process in Congress,” Letlow said. “Our team is grateful for the partnership with Chancellor Coreil and the entire campus community, and we look forward to working together on LSUA’s priorities in the future.”
“LSUA is incredibly grateful to Congresswoman Letlow for her dedicated efforts supporting young people with developmental disabilities who will receive the significant benefits provided by the SPERO program,” said LSUA Chancellor Dr. Paul Coreil. “On behalf of the many students and their families who will benefit, we say thank you!”
The outpouring of interest the program has attracted since the announcement of its Fall 2022 launch indicates the need in Central Louisiana for postsecondary inclusive educational options for students with developmental disabilities.
The SPERO program is largely funded through grants and private donations. LSUA has already received generous grants from Blue Cross-Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana and the Coughlin Saunders Foundation of Alexandria, Louisiana. The substantial federal funding secured by Congresswoman Letlow will ensure the SPERO program will be on a sound financial footing for years to come.
Photo credit: Nathan Parish