The RISE Program Celebrates Five Years

The RISE Program – Road to Independent Living, Spiritual Formation and Employment – is excited to celebrate its five-year anniversary.

Founder of the RISE Program and alumnus Gayle Gianopulos shared her vision of providing a post-secondary educational opportunity for students with intellectual disabilities. Gayle dreamed of a day when her two daughters with an Intellectual Disability would have an opportunity to attend college and experience wonderful college memories like she did when attending Judson. In 2016, Gayle and founding RISE Director Kathy Lambert worked to create the program. In the fall of 2017, the first cohort successful began. Since that time, RISE has been recognized as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP) through the U.S. Department of Education and the State of Illinois Department of Education. RISE was also recognized by Baylor University as the leading Christian Program for students with Intellectual Disabilities (IDD).

In 2019, the RISE Program piloted a Year 3 program and officially offered the RISE Up Program for students who desire to continue in Year 3 and Year 4. RISE Up also carries the distinction as a certified CTP. RISE also added a Special Olympics basketball team and will begin Special Olympics Track and Field in the spring of 2023. We are thankful for the four graduating classes that have produced 37 RISE alumni. Please stop by the Lindner Tower 1st floor to see the “Celebrate RISE” timeline.

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