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Web Updates_Spring 2023_ARC

The Academic Resource Center is pleased to partner with the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) and Department of Higher Education to bring Aspire@MassArt to our campus. 

In recognition of MassArt’s core value to pursue a just, compassionate, and equitable learning environment, Aspire@MassArt provides an opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities and/or autism to be part of the college’s thriving arts community. Students selected for this program have demonstrated artistic abilities and desire to develop those abilities at an art and design school. All students participate in classes, join in community activities and engage in career readiness.

Aspire@MassArt provides an inclusive education for individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. Students can increase their academic, social, and career outcomes by sharing the same experiences as their college peers and enrolling in undergraduate courses as nondegree-seeking students. Aspire@MassArt students enroll in one class each semester, attend a weekly seminar led by the Aspire@MassArt Coordinator, and participate in extracurricular activities at MassArt and the Colleges of The Fenway.

We are entering our fourth year and have 8 participants. Students involved in the program promote a positive and inclusive community at MassArt. ‘When I tell someone that I am a student at MassArt, I feel proud, strong, self-sufficient, brave, empowered, accomplished.’ (M.Carr, Aspire@MassArt Student) Faculty have also seen the benefits of Aspire, ‘It has been wonderful to participate in the Aspire program. The Aspire student's dedication and creativity and the guidance of their thoughtful education coach have made significant positive contributions to our class community.’ (E. Rydz, Professor, Studio Foundation)


To be eligible for Aspire@MassArt, students must meet one of the following criteria:

  1. A current high school student, age 18-22, who has not passed the MCAS exam and is eligible for special education services as documented through an Individualized Education Program (IEP); or,
  2. A current high school student, age 20-21, who has passed the MCAS, but is still eligible for special education as documented through an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
  3. An individual over the age of 22, who is supported by Massachusetts Department of Disability Services (DDS) and/or Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MassRehab).

Admission Process

Eligible students interested in taking part in Aspire@MassArt are encouraged to discuss their options with their school district or adult service coordinator. To be considered for the program students must complete an application, which includes a digital portfolio and interview with the Aspire@MassArt Coordinator.

Person Centered Planning

Once you are accepted into Aspire@MassArt, you will meet with the Aspire@MassArt Coordinator. We will work together and create a Person Centered Plan (PCP). The personcentered plan guides the selection of classes along with on campus activities and employment experiences. The PCP helps students express their preferences, strengths, goals, and outcomes in the areas of employment, education, social relationships, and leisure. The PCP looks at a person's whole life while focusing on talents, preferences and dreams. Through the PCP, choices are clarified and organized into steps for the future. Once the steps are outlined all involved parties are able to assist in identifying supports and resources (disability and nondisability specific) needed to achieve their goals. A PCP is a form of a transition assessment guided by the student.

Courses at Apsire@MassArt

Our classes are studio based. They are 5 hours long and students work on their art while in class. Most classes are from either 8 am -1 pm or 1:30 pm - 6:30 pm. There may be homework involved in the class, which the student can do at home or on campus. Some of the classes our students have taken:

Studio for Drawing
Visual Language
Form Study
Drawn to Comics

Testament of Completion

The goal of Aspire@MassArt is for students who could not typically attend college have the opportunity to be fully immersed into the MassArt community. To create a well-rounded format for students and to mirror their peers, we have created a Testament of Completion. This allows students in Aspire@MassArt to take classes that provide them with a full understanding of different types of art and learn to think critically. Typically students take 3 years to complete their study. Students enroll in one undergraduate course for audit per semester. In order to provide a broad educational experience, students will participate in 2 classes in 2D, 2 classes in 3D, 1 class in Design, 1 class of the student’s choice.

Weekly Seminars and Peer Mentors

Weekly Seminar: Students in Aspire@MassArt meet in a seminar group weekly. These weekly seminars focus on different subjects, which may include conversation starting, homework, executive function skills, advocacy in class, and preparing a resume. In addition, Aspire@MassArt has created a social club on campus. We host the Gaming Club and invite all students at MassArt to participate.

Peer Mentors: These are students at MassArt who join us for social activities. Our peer mentors attend clubs and activities with students in Aspire@MassArt and also attend our weekly seminars and Gaming Club events.

Work Ready Preparedness

In addition to taking classes and participating in social activities on campus, students will need to become work and/or career ready.

To help build their work skill, students can participate in internships on campus or work in their community. We ask that students work a minimum of 5 hours a week and to meet with their Aspire Coordinator to discuss the skills they are building on and their future work goals.

For more information, please contact Amante Coppes, Aspire@MassArt Program Coordinator at