Volume 1 Issue 10
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The Director's Corner

It’s been a busy October! All ASPIRE staff recently met for three days of training in Denver, Colorado. Training sessions included “Evaluation 101” to review ASPIRE as part of a larger PROMISE research study and “Customized Employment” to better understand what employment can be for youth with more complex disabilities. Staff also had the opportunity to practice with real cases, analyzing information, and determining how it is recorded and used to work with the youth and families.

Taking a week away from enrollment is really tough for Staff, but learning and practicing together helps ASPIRE have consistent implementation of project goals and activities across all six states.

Enrollment continues in Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah. With only six months left to enroll, be sure to share ASPIRE with families. Site Coordinators can provide brochures for distribution. They are also happy to take calls and discuss ASPIRE. Staff is available to participate in transition fairs and community events. Be sure to invite ASPIRE! See the contact information for each state below.

Thank you to all of ASPIRE’s partners in the six states. Thank you youth and families for wanting to improve your futures!

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director

October 15, 2015

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

ASPIRE Enrollment Update


North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Cruzita Tafoya
Staff Highlight - Barry Gravatt

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

State Updates:

Greetings from your Arizona ASPIRE team! We have been trying to keep cool in our very hot weather!

As we move forward the entire team of 11 case managers are all officially recruiting and enrolling youth and their families all across the state. Staff have been staying busy with recruiting, enrolling, and case managing. Thank you to our team for establishing and developing wonderful relationships with families across the state of Arizona!

ASPIRE Arizona is also developing our skills and learning from community organizations aimed at helping youth obtain services and employment in the state. Most recently, ASPIRE Arizona had the opportunity to get training from Untapped Arizona. This is a network of organizations partnering together to support businesses to meet workforce needs by tapping into the labor pool of individuals with disabilities.

October will be our next ASPIRE Advisory Council Meeting and we look forward to our partner agencies that continue to offer their support and ideas as we move forward with ASPIRE in Arizona.

If you would like more information on ASPIRE, please contact your Arizona team at (844) 260-2890. We would love to share with you the work ASPIRE has done, is currently doing, and what will be done in the future to help youth with disabilities achieve their goals!

ASPIRE Colorado Case Managers are busy case managing our 201 families and building our community resources. Through the relationships the Case Managers have built with the ASPIRE Services families; they have the ability to explore, understand, and offer a multitude of available community options.

Peak Parent Center offered the first Parent Training and the first Youth Self-Determination training sessions simultaneously in Colorado Springs. Peak will be offering Parent and Self-Determination trainings, statewide. Stay tuned for times and locations in your communities.

ASPIRE Colorado held its fourth ASPIRE State Advisory Committee meeting in September. Thanks to our community partners for their participation and input on how to make ASPIRE Colorado a successful project for our youth and families. To learn more, see www.aspirewest.org.

ASPIRE Montana celebrates a new milestone this month - enrollments reached the halfway mark in early October. To date, ASPIRE Montana has enrolled 66 of its 130 targeted youth and families. Montana will continue to enroll in Yellowstone County, and will also be recruiting in Gallatin, Park, Lincoln, Sanders, Mineral and Lake Counties this month.

ASPIRE Montana recently met with the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Tribes located in southeastern Montana, to share information about the ASPIRE Project and to seek approval to recruit youth on the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservations. ASPIRE is awaiting further direction and approval from these Tribes, and will meet with the Legislative Branch of the Crow Tribe in November.

The ASPIRE Advisory Committee met in mid-September and discussed Montana’s revised Recruitment and Enrollment Plan. The Committee also received updates from a number of the organizations who will provide services to the youth and families in the ASPIRE Services Group.

ASPIRE Montana staff recently attended an All-ASPIRE three-day training in Denver, Colorado. Staff had the opportunity to network with their peers from other states and received valuable training from the ASPIRE Project Leadership team, including a full-day of training on Customized Employment from Montana presenter, Cary Griffin. If you would like more information on ASPIRE Montana, please contact us toll free at (844) 442-3167. We look forward to hearing from you!

North Dakota
ASPIRE ND has enrolled 42 youth with the goal of 50 youth enrolled by March of 2016. This past month we have been busy meeting with eligible youth and family members from the Fargo area who had recently received recruitment letters. During the next few months we plan to recruit youth living in north central North Dakota as well as recruit additional youth living in areas we have previously targeted. As always, interested youth and guardians may contact our office to determine their eligibility and schedule a meeting with ASPIRE North Dakota staff.

In addition to recruitment, case managers continue to meet with enrolled youth and families monthly to work on setting and meeting goals in the areas of education, employment and independent living. Parents continue to attend parent training sessions offered through Pathfinder Parent Center while youth attend Self Determination trainings. Several youth and parents have also found it helpful to meet with the SSA Benefits Planners to discuss SSI, how work might affect the youths’ SSI check and other benefits they may receive or be eligible to receive. ASPIRE North Dakota will soon offer Financial Literacy trainings for youth and parents including information on credit management, budgeting, taxes, insurance and savings planning.

ASPIRE North Dakota continues to participate in promotion events such as presentations and displays at various conferences and community events. Please stop by and visit the ASPIRE staff at these fall conferences and events: ND Division of Vocational Rehab Conference – Grand Forks, ND; ND Autism Spectrum Disorder Conference – Fargo, ND; Community Fair - Standing Rock High School; and the ND Secondary Transition Interagency Conference – Bismarck, ND.

Staff recently attended an informative training by Jed Baker, Ph.D. who is a nationally known trainer regarding social skills training for individuals who have social challenges particularly those individuals on the autism spectrum.

As always, please contact ASPIRE North Dakota to learn more, request information or schedule a meeting. We are happy to meet with you! Please contact ASPIRE North Dakota at (800) 233-1737.

South Dakota
Enrollment for South Dakota ASPIRE has reached 97 with almost all areas of the state covered. Following is a map which shows all enrollment locations for the state. The red pins indicate ASPIRE Services and the green pins indicate Usual Services. The column on the right indicates the number of enrollments, both ASPIRE and Usual Services, by city. Click on the map for a larger view. The next area of recruitment and enrollment will be the central area of South Dakota. To learn more or enroll in ASPIRE South Dakota, call 1-800-224-5336.

Great news! All ASPIRE Utah’s case manager positions are fully staffed. Background and Suitability checks have cleared. Hence, new case managers serving in southern Utah and northern Utah are enrolling youth and meeting with families. In fact, in our upcoming enrollment activities in southern Utah, we will reach out to youth who live in the following counties: Kane, Iron, Washington, Piute, Beaver and Sevier. In addition to continuing recently initiated recruitment activities in Cache and Carbon Counties, we’ll also reach out to youth in Millard, Juab and Sanpete Counties.

Thus far, ASPIRE Utah has enrolled approximately 85% of our target (i.e., 214/250 youth). We have only 6 months left to enroll the remaining participants. If you know of a youth who receive SSI, is 14 to 16 years, and who may benefit from ASPIRE services, we invite you to contact us toll free us at (844) 880-9171.

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

As of August 15, 2015, ASPIRE has enrolled 1113 youth and their families in the ASPIRE study.

Enrollment by State

Arizona .............................................383
North Dakota .....................................42
South Dakota .....................................97



October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Watch for activities in your area.

ASPIRE Website - www.aspirewest.org
The ASPIRE website is a great place to find resources for youth and their families in your area, as well as contact information for all six of the ASPIRE states, and information about ASPIRE and the PROMISE Initiative. If you received this newsletter from a friend or colleafue and would like to be on our mailing list, click on the "Subscribe" link to sign up for our newsletter.

Staff Highlight - Cruzita Tafoya

Cruzita Tafoya

Cruzita Tafoya is a case manager for ASPIRE Colorado. She works out of the Pueblo office of the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and covers the cities of Pueblo, Canon City, Florence, and Alamosa. Cruzita is originally from Salida, Colorado and moved to Pueblo in 2014 to begin working with ASPIRE families. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Southern Colorado now known as CSU-Pueblo. Cruzita comes to ASPIRE from the Home Community Based Services adult waivers that cover Chaffee, Lake, and Park Counties. Her past employment experience includes working with parolees, substance abuse counselor, working with adults with mental illness in a residential setting, and working with at risk youth in an acute residential setting. In her free time, Cruzita enjoys spending time with family, friends, reading, listening to music, and baking.

Cruzita Tafoya
Case Manager

Staff Highlight - Barry Gravatt

Barry GravattBarry is a Case Manager for the Western region of South Dakota. This allows him to travel and work with families from the Badlands of the Oglala Lakota Nation to Northern Black Hills, areas he grew up in and has lived in most of his life. Prior to coming to ASPIRE, Barry worked as a case manager for adults with severe mental illness in an assertive community treatment center for 21 years. He has also worked for the Rapid City Regional adolescent behavioral health unit for 7 years and as a recreation coordinator in a center for developmental disabilities for 7 years. He received a bachelors degree in political science from University of South Dakota.

Barry and his wife live in Rapid City South Dakota where their three children and nine grandchildren also reside. His free time is spent enjoying whatever activities his grandchildren are involved with, including boating, motocross racing, snowboarding, camping and hunting.

Barry Gravatt
Case Manager

Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!

Do you connect with youth and their families through a newsletter, or know of an agency that does? Let us know if you would like information about ASPIRE or PROMISE to include in your newsletter. We will gladly provide you with a brief article and additional information. Simply email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9712.


ASPIRE on Facebook:

For links to articles and information to help youth and families, follow us on Facebook.


ASPIRE Partners

ASPIRE is excited to partner with the following agencies:

If you would like to be included in our next newsletter, email us at aspire@aspirewest.org or call 1-844-880-9172.