Rock Valley College

Chapter 30: RAISE Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

A Transition-Focused Educational Program

The Rock Valley Academic Institute for Successful Employment (RAISE) program is a collaborative initiative involving Rock Valley College and local school districts to provide opportunities for adults who have intellectual disabilities to participate in inclusive post-secondary educational opportunities, gain independent living skills, and obtain the skills needed for competitive employment.

RAISE is designed to address student’s unique learning needs by providing a comprehensive approach that includes career exploration, specialized vocational and academic instruction, and opportunities for social integration. The RAISE program is based on a learning environment which takes advantage of the social aspects of campus and community life, and as such most courses are held on the RVC Main Campus.

Mission Statement

All individuals with disabilities deserve to live rich, meaningful lives and to be integrated into their community as fully as possible. RAISE prepares students with intellectual disabilities for higher education and workforce opportunities through academics, work skills development, and social skills training.

The specific objectives of RAISE are to provide students with:

  • An enriched collegiate experience
  • An interactive and inclusive environment
  • Learning activities that transfer to lifelong independent living skills
  • Work ethics necessary for gainful employment
  • Self-respect and knowledge of individual strengths
  • Empowerment through education
  • Connections with post-21 employment and agencies
  • Certificate of Achievement in Career Readiness

Program Eligibility

Ideal candidates for the RAISE program are individuals who are motivated, but who would find traditional post-secondary education options challenging without support.  All applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Submit Rock Valley College enrollment application and other forms included as part of the RAISE application process;
  • Provide results of the most recent diagnostic testing specifying reading, math, and written language skills to be at or above a 3rd grade level;
  • Have a documented intellectual disability;
  • Be able to follow the required college code of conduct;
  • Be able to manage all self-care needs and demonstrate sufficient emotional stability to participate in and adjust to all aspects of the program;
  • Be motivated and have realistic and tangible career and outcome goal; and
  • Be able to focus and participate in all program requirements.

*Final candidate selection is at the discretion of the RAISE program staff.


Courses offered through RAISE are designed specifically for individuals who would find traditional post-secondary educational opportunities challenging. As such, coursework focuses on specific independent living, vocational, and academic skill development, with the goal of helping students to live in the community independently and to obtain competitive employment.

Coursework focuses on specific independent living, vocational, and social skill development, with the goal of helping students to live and engage in the community independently and/or to obtain competitive employment. Students who successfully complete all required coursework receive a Certificate of Achievement in Career Readiness.

Courses are offered on Wednesday and Friday mornings during the fall and spring semesters. Courses are typically held on the RVC Main Campus, but on occasion may be held at RVC satellite sites and other community locations. All credits earned will be listed on the student’s RVC transcript.

For more information on the RAISE program, or to register for classes, contact the Disability Support Services Office at (815) 921-2371 or visit their website.