Rock Valley College

Spring Registration is NOW OPEN!

For more information, please contact RAISE Coordinator,
MaryAnne Ax at

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 and social skills, and develop 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;
  • Have a documented intellectual disability;
  • Provide results of the most recent diagnostic testing specifying reading, math, and written language skills to be at or above a 3rd grade level;
  • 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 goals; and
  • Be able to focus and participate in all program requirements.

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


RAISE  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. All NEW students are required to complete STU 105 Personal Empowerment, a foundational course for the program.  Students who successfully complete all required program coursework receive a Certificate of Achievement in Career Readiness.

RAISE focuses on skill development in areas such as the following:

• self-advocacy & personal empowerment
• communication skills
• healthy relationships
• independent living
• public transportation & community safety
• making safe and healthy choices
• community resources
• career exploration
• work readiness skills
• career skills development (including soft skills)

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.

The Spring Course Schedule is now available. 

Scholarship Resources

A limited number of scholarships are available through the Rock Valley College Foundation.  To apply, or for more information on scholarships, contact the RAISE Program Coordinator, MaryAnne Ax  at Disability Support Services, Rock Valley College, 3301 N. Mulford Rd., Rockford, IL  61114.  Phone:  815-921-2371.  Email:

Program Forms & Information:

RAISE Course Descriptions
RAISE Program Brochure
Student Guide
New Student Information Sheet
RAISE Program Intake Questionnaire
RAISE Enrollment Checklist
Enrollment Form
Scholarship Application

Become a RAISE Instructor

Whether you desire extra income or wish to share your skills with others, teaching a RAISE class can be rewarding in many ways. Because of the nature of non-credit classes, instructors are not required to have degrees — just demonstrate expertise in their subject area. We are especially looking for individuals with skill and/or a background in special education and working with individuals with disabilities.

For more information on the RAISE program:

MaryAnne Ax
Program Coordinator
Phone: 815-921-2365

Disability Support Services: (815) 921-2371.