Volume 2 Issue 3
facebook twitter aspirewest.org

The Director's Corner

Down to the wire! Enrollment in ASPIRE ends on April 30, 2016. You may wonder why this is such a firm date. The research study PROMISE, which includes ASPIRE, will compare youth and families who access currently available services (Usual Services), with youth who receive enhanced services (ASPIRE Services). We will learn if there’s a difference between these two groups in their educational success, employment and self-sufficiency. With enrollment ending on April 30, the ASPIRE youth and families are assured of at least 2.5 years of services and supports before the study ends on September 30, 2018.

Often when working with people with disabilities, we think of new services rather than a research study. In fact, staff regularly remind stakeholders that ASPIRE is not just a new program. The purpose of the study is to provide insights and guidance to federal agencies, possibly changing how youth with disabilities and their families receives services or supports in the future. It’s less about a program and more about systems change, improving the future.

So time is running short! Let’s get youth enrolled in ASPIRE! All states are open for enrollment! A reminder of the eligibility criteria: youth are between the ages of 14 and 16.9 and receiving SSI (Supplemental Security Income). If you know any youth who meets this criteria, please urge them to contact their state Site Coordinator (see contact information below) or call ASPIRE at (844) 880-9172. Call today!

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director

March 15, 2016

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

Enrollment Ends April 2016

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Kimberly Vosseteig

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

State Updates:

ASPIRE Arizona has 737 teens and their families enrolled to date. Teens and their families who choose to enroll have the opportunity to learn more about how to further their education and employment. Don’t miss out on this opportunity and call (844) 260-2890 to learn more and enroll.  Also, watch for Open Houses scheduled around the state!  Check out the calendar at aspirewest.org/arizona/upcoming-events-arizona and RSVP today!

The chance to enroll in ASPIRE Arizona will end on April 30, 2016! Hurry and enroll, space is limited!

ASPIRE Colorado is enrolling, again, with the goal to enroll 80 more youth and families in cities across the state: Denver, Aurora, Greeley, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Thornton, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. Contact Robin Bauknecht 303-866-3364 or robin.bauknecht@state.co.us for more information on enrollment.

ASPIRE Colorado has a Case Manager opening in the Grand Junction area. Details are located on the State of Colorado website.

Be sure to check out the ASPIRE Colorado Parent and Self-Determination trainings coming soon at

There are only a few slots remaining in Montana for families interested in the chance to receive the enhanced services for teens by participating in the ASPIRE Project. ASPIRE Montana has enrolled 127 youth and families. We are extending this opportunity through the end of April for 13 additional youth! To learn more, contact us at (844) 442-3167, toll free or visit www.aspirewest.org/montana. Don’t miss this chance to receive the ASPIRE services and help improve the way services are delivered to everyone in the future.

ASPIRE Montana is excited to welcome Latitia “Tisha” Harry to the team! Tisha will be working out of the Billings office, managing cases in eastern Montana. She has many years of experience working in case management.

ASPIRE families in the Great Falls area recently participated in a Financial Planning and Special Needs Trusts, presented by Rural Dynamics, Inc. There will be additional trainings across the state in the coming months, including for youth in Billings to participate in Self Determination training this month. LIFTT (Living Independently for Today and Tomorrow is offering Youth Empowerment Training to ASPIRE youth in the coming weeks. ASPIRE Case Managers will keep the youth and families informed of these many opportunities.

The Blackfeet Nation Institutional Review Board has notified ASPIRE that we can proceed with recruitment and enrollment on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. ASPIRE is very excited for this opportunity to work with youth and families in the Blackfeet Nation.

North Dakota
ASPIRE North Dakota reached its enrollment goal of 50 youth in February! After a quick celebration, we completed a new plan to enroll additional youth in ND to support the ASPIRE goal of reaching 2000 youth in all the ASPIRE states. North Dakota youth and families received letters in February and eligible youth are being enrolled.

Youth self-determination and parent trainings are scheduled in three regions of the state. ASPIRE North Dakota surveyed families to find the best day and time time to meet. So now, these trainings will be ‘conference style’ meeting half-day or all day on Saturdays, rather than a busy week night. Financial Literacy is coming soon to the list of training opportunities offered to ASPIRE youth and families.

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
Linda Schoon, Case Manager shares this story to highlight all that’s happening in South Dakota.

During one of my first meetings with an ASPIRE youth, he told me that he did not feel that he had a disability. What he said is, “I am just deaf.” We have continued to work together on ASPIRE goals over the past year, he has proven that being Deaf is not going to hold him back from accomplishing the goals that he has set out to achieve as he transitions from high school to adult life.

One of his first ASPIRE goals was to connect with Vocational Rehabilitation Services and work towards getting paid employment. After completing his application and intake with VR, he started Project Skills. Through Project Skills the young man worked this past summer as an Electrician’s Assistant. His supervisor was the parent of a Deaf child therefore he was able to use ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate with the ASPIRE youth. The youth was able to complete the summer job, and had a valuable work and learning experience. He is now interested in furthering his education and pursuing a career as an electrician. Most recently, this young man was hired by a University Athletics Department to assist with keeping basketball statistics, videotaping games and some cleaning duties in the locker room. This opportunity resulted from the collaboration of the young man, his VR counselor and job coach working together to find an opportunity to match his skills and interests. This paid work matches his interest in sports, as he plays basketball, football and track in high school.

Since working results in a pay check, his Mother asked questions about how this income would affect his SSI. The Mother and young man were referred to a Benefits Specialist who was able to explain working and benefits, specifically using work incentives. With the Benefits Specialist, he developed a PASS (Plan for Achieving Self-Support) with the goal to set aside income and resources for a specific work goal. His goal is to purchase a car in order to travel to work. Currently he continues to save for a car, and plans to get his driver’s license as soon as he turns 18 years old this March.

Last summer this young man attended the Youth Leadership Forum which is an informal and interactive week-long leadership training and career awareness program for high school students with disabilities. The youth had a successful experience and was able to learn more about his disability, analyze his strengths and weaknesses, learn leadership styles, legislative processes, disability laws and much more. As a Junior, he many more goals and experiences before graduation.

It has been a fantastic year for this him and I am so excited to continue my work as an ASPIRE Case Manager to watch him transition and reach his goals.

Utah is learning how important it is to never give up reaching out to ASPIRE youth and families. One case manager described how difficult it was for him to reach a particular parent. The family started experiencing challenges just as they began working with an ASPIRE Case Manager. Consequently, family matters became the priority. After several months, the family was able to resolve some of the challenges and agreed to meet with the Case Manager. Now the youth and family are fully participating in ASPIRE activities. They come to self-determination classes, attend monthly meetings, and follow up with their Vocational Rehabilitation counselor and benefits specialist.

As much as the Case Manager would like to say that the change in the family’s participation was because of his hard work, it wasn't. He shared this story to emphasize how important it is to continue reaching out to families. He explained that families go through difficult times, and when this happens, these difficulties require the family’s time and energy. With time, challenges are resolved and the youth and families are able to participate in ASPIRE!

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

As of March 15, 2015, ASPIRE has enrolled 1686 youth and their families in the ASPIRE study.

Enrollment by State

Arizona .............................................737
North Dakota .....................................51
South Dakota ..................................120


Spread the Word - Enrollment Ends Soon!

Running OutEnrollment for ASPIRE will end April 30, 2016, and space is limited. Enrollments have opened up in all six ASPIRE states, but you need to hurry to meet the April 30th Deadline. Don't miss this chance to help a youth and their family achieve their school and work goals. 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 colleague and would like to be on our mailing list, click on the "Subscribe" link to sign up for our newsletter.

You can also view ASPIRE related events in your state by going to your state page, then clicking on the upcoming events link on the menu.


Staff Highlight - Kimberly Vosseteig

Becky Daigneault

Kimberly Vosseteig is the support staff for the ASPIRE North Dakota team located at Minot State University. She graduated from high school in Minot, and took some additional classes at a college in Washington State. After moving from North Dakota, she lived in Long Beach, CA, Seattle and Yakima, WA, Medford, OR and Atlanta, GA. Besides working for a phone company and oil company, she was mostly employed in the medical field. She moved back to ND in January 2014.

Kimberly enjoys cooking, Pinterest, reading (mostly non-fiction), watching horror movies, crocheting and going for walks. She has a daughter who lives in Yakima, Washington.

Kimberly Vosseteig
Support Staff


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.