Volume 2 Issue 5
facebook twitter aspirewest.org

The Director's Corner

The cheer heard around PROMISE! Did you hear it? All six PROMISE initiatives (Arkansas, California, Maryland, New York, Wisconsin and ASPIRE) met their target enrollments by April 30, 2016! Staff in all six projects are thrilled to have enrolled with over 13,000 youth and families in this important research. Can serving youth with disabilities at a younger age, and providing an array of services to them and their families, positively change their futures?

With just 30 months left, everyone is working to build strong relationships with the youth and families. In doing so we hope to increase opportunities to gain knowledge and skills in the areas of employment, education, self-determination, financial literacy, transition and parenting. That’s a lot to accomplish in such a short time. And since ASPIRE is research, it’s most important that these opportunities and trainings be presented uniformly, and are consistent with ASPIRE procedures. No small task when done across nearly 20% of the country!

To achieve these goals, all ASPIRE staff recently met in Phoenix to understand our progress to this point, brainstorm strategies to increase youth and family participation, and review those critical procedures. It was an intense three days! ASPIRE staff were motivated and focused to ensure they are building their own knowledge and skills, and implementing ASPIRE consistently. It’s the art of relationship, with the goal of fidelity.

ASPIRE’s staff are dedicated and talented. They are artists who understand the significance of their work. They are energized and ready for the final half of ASPIRE! The ASPIRE staff are truly an amazing team!

Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director

May 15, 2016

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

North Dakota
South Dakota

Staff Highlight - Ryan Rees

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

State Updates:

ASPIRE Arizona is done with recruitment and enrollment! Congratulations to Arizona ASPIRE staff for enrolling 1,002 youth and their families in the project. It is a very exciting time as we continue to move forward with case management. In the next month. Our intervention service partners continue to provide services in the areas of benefits planning, parent trainings, and financial education capability training to youth and families receiving ASPIRE Services. As we enter the summer months, Arizona Case Managers are looking forward to working with our families and staying out of the heat!

ASPIRE Colorado is excited to focus on case management, with the youth and families in ASPIRE services, full-time!

In addition to monthly case management meetings with youth and families, the ASPIRE Colorado Case Managers, across the state, will be implementing a summer job club with ASPIRE youth. Youth will learn how to fill out an application, learn interview skills and how to get and keep a job. Other summer activities include career exploration, volunteer work, summer employment and career road trips.

Budget Right LLC, is the Youth and Family Financial Education and Capability Trainer. They are in the process of developing financial literacy training workshops for Colorado youth and families. The training will be in all areas of the state, so stay tuned to the next training in your local area.

The end of April marked the completion of the enrollment process for our project, and Montana is pleased to report that 137 teens and their families have been enrolled in the ASPIRE Project statewide, representing 44 cities and 18 counties across the state.

ASPIRE Montana staff just returned from a week of training in Phoenix, AZ where we collaborated with our partner states to glean ideas, share successes and challenges, and take part in hands-on training. We are excited to put to practice what we have learned as we move into a new phase of ASPIRE.

We are continuing to work with our contracted service providers on coordinating intervention trainings for ASPIRE Services families. As part of this process, we are polling our families to determine the best locations, days, times, and any other barriers, such as transportation or childcare, to ensure we are doing our best to support a positive response. For more information on upcoming trainings and resources in Montana, check out the ASPIRE website, Montana page at http://aspirewest.org/montana

North Dakota
Over the past month ASPIRE staff continued to recruit youth to help ASPIRE reach its goal of 2000 total enrolled youth, for all of ASPIRE, by April 30th. ASPIRE North Dakota recruited a total of 57 youth, an additional 7 youth from the 50 originally planned to enroll in North Dakota.

ASPIRE staff recently met with a coordinator from Annie’s House to discover what various adaptive recreation programs and equipment they offer. Annie’s House is a year round adaptive recreational facility located in Bottineau, North Dakota. They provide many opportunities for individuals to participate in activities such as skiing, hiking, fishing and canoeing. They provide specially-trained instructors, modifications and adaptive equipment to help provide successful recreational experiences for everyone. ASPIRE North Dakota staff held an informational booth and attended sessions at the annual North Dakota Association of Community Providers conference. Youth and families attended several self-determination and parent training that were offered in April. ASPIRE will be putting together a schedule for future trainings in North Dakota communities.

We are excited to start May off by attending the All ASPIRE training held in Phoenix. The ASPIRE formative evaluators from the University of Montana will be visiting Minot on May 16 and 17th for a site visit. Their site visit will include a family focus group meeting the evening of May 16th to gather input from families and youth enrolled in ASPIRE. On May 18 and 19th, ASPIRE North Dakota staff is sponsoring a two-day “Four Cornerstones of Financial Literacy” train the trainer, presentation for staff from the Independent Living (IL) Centers and other state partners to learn strategies to provide Financial Education and Capability training to ASPIRE families. Once staff have attended the training, the IL Centers will be meeting with ASPIRE families and youth to provide individual financial coaching and group financial education.

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
During the months of March and April ASPIRE South Dakota staff have been enrolling additional youth to help ASPIRE reach its goal of 2000. April 30 was the final date for all PROMISE Projects to complete enrollments. South Dakota ended with 131 youth enrolled which exceeded the state’s initial goal of 120. The ASPIRE staff are now providing case management services to 66 youth and families across South Dakota. ASPIRE youth and their families live in 31 cities across the state. Twenty five or 37% of the 66 youth being served are Native American. These youth represent four of the nine reservations in South Dakota along with having eight different tribal affiliations. Approximately three fourths of the youth enrolled in the ASPIRE Services group are male.

As school ends for the summer, ASPIRE Case Managers are looking forward to assisting youth to explore summer employment options in their areas of interest. Staff are also developing a list of summer camps and activities which might be of interest to the youth on their caseloads.

Thanks goes out to all of the agencies and schools who have partnered with ASPIRE in South Dakota. We appreciate your help with encouraging youth and family members to participate and stay involved in the project.

Utah’s original enrollment goal was 250 youth. With the additional enrollments, Utah’s final enrollment is 277: 140 receiving "ASPIRE Services" and 137 in the “Usual Services” group.

Recently, our Utah State Advisory Committee convened. In our previous meeting in January, Utah case managers shared incidents and highlights from their work to help the committee members understand their successes and challenges. To complete this picture, we heard from our Utah contractors (i.e., Utah Parent Center, Fair Credit Foundation, Utah Work Incentive Planning Services, and the Independent Living Centers). We explored how services are being implemented as well as what successes and challenges the contractors are experiencing. In Utah, we are fortunate to have such supportive and engaged parties who provide contracted services. They are outstanding partners in providing exceptional assistance to ASPIRE youth and families.

So what’s in store next? We’re happy to say that our focus from now until the fall of 2018 is solely on fulfilling the research activities designed for ASPIRE youth. Watch for developments in future newsletters!

ASPIRE Enrollment Update

Enrollment for the ASPIRE study ended on April 30, 2016. ASPIRE has enrolled 2051 youth and families in the ASPIRE study.

Enrollment by State

Arizona ............................................1002
North Dakota ......................................57
South Dakota ...................................132



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 - Ryan Rees

Ryan Rees

Ryan came to ASPIRE in July 2015 from Vocational Rehabilitation where he worked as a VR Counselor with transition-aged youth for four years and earned his Masters Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Utah State University in 2014.

Ryan really enjoys the challenge of working in the greater field of Disabilities, and he is proud to be associated with people who are serving our ASPIRE youth and parents in our local communities.

In his free time he enjoys skiing and snowboarding with his eight and nine year-old daughters, river-running, and competing in tennis and soccer.  

Ryan Rees
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.