Volume 2 Issue 1
facebook twitter aspirewest.org

The Director's Corner

Another year has come and gone! It’s hard to believe its 2016 already. As with most of us this time of year, the ASPIRE staff is reflecting on what has been accomplished, and what remains to be done.

ASPIRE is just over two years old. In that two years, a lot of work has been done: Staff have been hired and trained; procedures for recruitment, enrollment and case management have been finalized and implemented; contracts have been completed for ASPIRE interventions; over 1400 youth and families have enrolled; Colorado and Utah have completed their enrollments; Staff are sharing, and families are learning about resources and supports. Everyone – youth, families and staff can be very proud of what’s been accomplished.

Looking forward, there’s still a lot to do! There are just 3 months remaining to enroll 600 more youth in Arizona, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Once enrollment is complete, ASPIRE staff will shift to doing only case management. The youth and families will be asked to complete surveys about their ASPIRE experience. Working with community partners will increase to help youth and families access existing and ASPIRE services to become more independent. There’s so much still to do!

So as we begin 2016, ASPIRE is celebrating our work with youth, families, community partners and agencies. We look forward to even more in the coming two and a half years!

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director

January 15, 2016

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

Enrollment Ends April 2016

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Susan Burleigh
Staff Highlight - Jennifer Winders

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

State Updates:

ASPIRE Arizona currently has (insert number) teens and their families enrolled. Teens and their families who choose to enroll have the opportunity to learn more about how to further their education and employment. The chance to enroll in ASPIRE Arizona will end on April 30, 2016! Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Call (844 )260-2890 to learn more and enroll in the project.

On December 22, 2015, ASPIRE Arizona held their first ASPIRE Open House at the Cesar Chavez Public Library. Families from South Phoenix attended this open house to learn more ASPIRE, share their stories, and enroll on the spot. We would like to thank Sheila Levine for allowing us to use her facilities! Watch for additional open houses throughout the state of Arizona. Call (844)260-2890 to ask about upcoming ASPIRE Open House events in your area.

ASPIRE Colorado recently began referring ASPIRE youth to the Colorado Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. DVR Counselors are assigned to a specific ASPIRE Colorado Case Manager to ensure a smooth referral process. ASPIRE Case Managers will assist the youth and families in working through the DVR intake and eligibility process, and the development of their individual Plan for Employment so they can pursue work and further education.

ASPIRE Colorado State Advisory Committee met last month. Case Managers discussed their specific caseloads with our stakeholder to generate conversations on systematic issues they are experiencing. Each Case Manager closed with a success story.

This past month, ASPIRE Montana has maintained their enrollment process with 16 newly enrolled youth and families. Montana has been focusing its recruitment and enrollment efforts in the central and south-eastern part of the state and has enrolled 111 of 130 targeted youth and families to date.

In December the ASPIRE Montana Advisory Committee gathered for its quarterly meeting and discussed the recruitment and enrollment plan, coordination of vocational rehabilitation services and employment opportunities for ASPIRE Services youth.

Later in January, Rural Dynamics, Inc. will be offering a financial planning and special needs trust training to our ASPIRE Services families in the Billings area. They will offer the same training in February to our ASPIRE Services families in the Great Falls area.

We are working with the Salish and Kootenai Confederated Tribes and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe on the ASPIRE Project and have invited youth living on the Flathead and Northern Cheyenne Reservation to participate. We are continuing our efforts to work with other tribes in Montana.

To learn more about ASPIRE Montana, please call toll free at (844) 442-3167 or visit our website at www.aspirewest.org. Don’t delay, the slots are filling up quickly.

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota’s current enrollment is 96%. There are just two more slots!! To complete the target of 50 enrollments, in December, ASPIRE North Dakota staff completed promotional activities and recruitment/enrollment in the Turtle Mountain reservation area. ASPIRE staff have also been busy networking with members of the Turtle Mountain reservation in preparation for Case Management activities.

The ASPIRE North Dakota team has been brainstorming ideas to increase parent and youth participation in self-determination and parent trainings. A brief questionnaire will be given to families to determine days of the week and time frames that work best with their schedules. They will also be informed that by participating in trainings, they will have a chance of winning a Walmart gift card.

ASPIRE North Dakota will soon be offering Financial Education and Capability training to ASPIRE youth and parents. In addition, ASPIRE case managers connect youth and parents to Benefits Counseling services to help families understand their youths’ SSI benefits and learn other important information.

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
Soon ASPIRE South Dakota will complete 120 enrollments!.  There is only one slot left!   Half of the youth and families are receiving ASPIRE Services through an ASPIRE Case Manager who meets with them in person on each month.

Barry Gravatt, ASPIRE Case Manager in Western South Dakota, shares his  experiences as a case manager:

“The last couple of months have been especially rewarding with opportunities to reflect back on a year of case management with many families. The last year has allowed me to meet some amazing students and families from many different parts of Western SD. There have been many challenges and accomplishments over this time as well. I have assisted ten students with enrolling for services with Vocational Rehabilitation and five of those have participated in a paid work experience while in high school. I have helped facilitate ten students to attend Self Determination Training and worked with three families to develop a Benefits Summary Analysis for their benefits planning. One parent attended a Parent Training on advocacy and the IEP process. It was such a great experience to later be invited to her son’s IEP where she utilized those skills to advocate for the classes he wanted.. I am looking forward to sharing more of these moments and the journey ahead.” Barry Gravatt

Great news! ASPIRE Utah completed its enrollment goal of 250 youth three months ahead of schedule. Now, our primary focus will be to assist youth and families in education and employment related goals.

ASPIRE parents and families are participating in the many interventions! They are attending Financial Education and Capability trainings to understand budgeting and planning for both the present and the future.  They are also attending trainings to learn about  the IEP Process, how to avoid power struggles with their child,  navigating the transition to middle school or adulthood, and more.  .

For the ASPIRE youth, we also have free training. Topics include: problem-solving skills, self-advocacy, safety, how to ask for reasonable accommodations, and more.. We hope to see more and more ASPIRE youth at these trainings.

As a reminder, the State Advisory Committee will meet on Tuesday, January 26, from 1:00 to 2:00 at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind in Salt Lake City.

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

As of January 15, 2015, ASPIRE has enrolled 1449 youth and their families in the ASPIRE study.

Enrollment by State

Arizona .............................................521
North Dakota .....................................48
South Dakota ..................................119


Spread the Word - Enrollment Ends Soon!

Running OutEnrollment for ASPIRE will end April 30, 2016, and space is limited. ASPIRE Colorado and ASPIRE Utah have met their enrollment goals, but there are still openings in Arizona, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Don't miss this chance to help a youth and their family achieve their school and work goals. Have them call their local ASPIRE office, or email aspire@aspirewest.org today.


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 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 - Susan Burleigh

Catherine Ipsen

Susan Burleigh is the ASPIRE Case Manager on the Western Slope in Co.  She is from Grand Junction.  She received her MSW at Colorado State University and worked in community mental health for almost 13 years obtaining her Clinical License in 1997. During this time she had the opportunity to teach Psychology classes at Colorado Mountain College as well as teach classes, assess needs and provide therapy for the Driving with Care Program.  In 2007, Susan left mental health and became a Rehabilitation Counselor   where she was fortunate to work in many different offices around the state.

Susan enjoys all kinds of sports and activities including skiing, she most enjoys walking with her dog PAC.  She would like to someday return to teaching.


Susan Burleigh.
Case Manager

Staff Highlight - Jennifer Winders

Jennifer WindersJennifer was born and raised in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She received her Bachelors degree in Psychology at the University of Northern Colorado and her Masters in Social Work from Colorado State University.  A majority of her career has been in child welfare so ASPIRE is a new experience for her.

When not working, Jennifer spends time with her husband of 18 years, and two kids. Her son is fourteen and enjoys playing baseball and hockey. Her daughter is eleven and is a great swimmer and artist. 

Jennifer Winders
Case Manager

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.