Volume 4 Issue 2
There’s lots happening for ASPIRE youth and families in Arizona this month:
Talk to your ASPIRE Case Manager or check out the ASPIRE Arizona calendar: https://tinyurl.com/ycw87v23
A new Administrative Assistant has joined the ASPIRE Arizona team! Venesa Hernandez. Previously worked in schools, as well as at Vocational Rehabilitation. Welcome to the team, Venesa!
Keira has worked on her goals and the tasks of transitioning from student into adulthood. One of her first goals with ASPIRE was to select three types of work she would be interested in and would like to explore. After identifying these jobs, she was referred to the local Independent Living Center to job shadow. Unfortunately, her seizure activity prevented her from fulfilling this activity but she was still able to learn more about the jobs. It was during this time her ASPIRE case manager referred her to Vocational Rehabilitation for employment and career services. Although accepted into the VR program, she is waiting for services. While waiting for those services, Keira and her Case Manager explored the MCIS (Montana Career Information System), completing career interest assessments, and learned about specific careers.
Before working with MCIS Keira had expressed an interest in the medical field but her struggles in Math and Science could pose a challenge. Kiera used the MCIS to explore other options for careers outside of the medical arena, and the knowledge, skills and training needed to enter into those careers. Keira is organizing all of this by maintaining the career information in her MyFile for future reference.
Like many ASPIRE youth, Keira’s story is growing and changing. ASPIRE is privileged to be part of these stories and make the future come alive for ASPIRE youth!
ASPIRE North Dakota Case Managers are excited to start the parent and youth self-determination trainings for 2018. It’s off to a great start with parents and youth already coming to trainings. The trainings are being held at various places in the community, such as the trampoline park. In addition to the trainings, families an opportunity to have some fun and network with other families. ASPIRE North Dakota will continue to hold Parent, Youth Self-Determination and Financial Trainings in communities across the state. Please visit with your ASPIRE Case Manager for details! Join the fun and learn at the same time!
First Chase began meeting monthly with the staff at school to address his concerns of self-esteem and bullying. He started to talk more, dream bigger and take the steps to identify and reach goals. With small steps, he changed his appearance and demeanor and became more comfortable with himself. As he did that, other things began to change. Small steps became large leaps. Chase set goals and graduated with his diploma in May of 2016. It was a monumental moment for him as he paraded across the stage to get that diploma, smiling from ear to ear.
One of the first goals Chase achieved was to complete his intake with Vocational Rehabilitation. After being found eligible, Chase was able to have paid work experiences through Project Skills. While the first two were not good fits, Chase learned a great deal about working and being responsible. He found a great fit at Culver’s, where he has worked for the past year and a half. He has advanced from carry out to being a cashier!
Over the past 4 years, Chase participated in all but one Self Determination training. He attended two Financial Trainings and even brought his step-dad along to one of the trainings. His mom, Heather has been a constant support as she encouraged him to attend and participate in everything ASPIRE has to offer. She has also attended Parent Trainings. Heather and Chase met with a Benefits Specialist to help them understand SSI and working. Chase has learned a lot, even to report his income each month!
Chase is now 20 years old. His goals and dreams are changing. Now he is working to be live independently in the future. He also wants to get his driver’s license, and he has been practicing driving.
Chase, his family and Linda are very proud of Chase and all he has accomplished. He has worked hard to overcome his low self-esteem, graduated from high school and is now working in his community. He has become a responsible young adult! Way to go, Chase!!
Here’s a bit about Erin. She was born and raised in Salt Lake City, attended Hillcrest High school, the University of Utah and Utah State University. For the past seven years Erin has worked at the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor and as a supervisor. Moreover, Erin has experience as a job coach, an ABA tutor and teacher. Erin has also enjoyed time as an event planner in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Las Vegas and Jacksonville. When you see Erin, be sure to give her a big welcome!!
|February 15, 2018|
In This Issue:
It’s Tax Time!
Tax time can cause worry and angst for all of us. But there’s good news for ASPIRE youth and families. There are a several tax credits available, especially for college students! And there’s help to figure it all out and file your taxes.
First is the Earned Income Tax Credit. Then there are others – especially to help with college expenses, like the American Opportunity and Lifetime Learning Credits.
Be sure to check out the EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) which lets someone with limited income, keep more of their earnings. To qualify, you must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file. EITC reduces the amount of tax you owe and may give you a refund. Learn what the IRS has to say at
The American Opportunity Credit is a credit for expenses toward a four year college degree. The credit equals 100% of the first $2,000 of a student’s qualified education expenses plus 25% of the next $2,000. The maximum annual credit is $2,500. Expenses covered include tuition and mandatory enrollment fees, and the cost of books and course materials. Learn what the IRS has to say at
For the Lifetime Learning Credit, you must be in an undergraduate or graduate college program. The credit is 20% of up to $10,000 of qualified education expenses. So the maximum credit for 2017 is $2,000. Like the American Opportunity credit, qualified expenses include tuition and mandatory enrollment fees at an eligible institution. Books and course materials can also count, but only if you are required to purchase them directly from the school. Learn what the IRS has to say at https://www.irs.gov/credits-deductions/individuals/llc.
There is help to figure all this out. The IRS (Internal Revenue Service) offers tax preparation help for those needing assistance. The VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less. It also helps persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.
To find help in your local community call 800-906-9887 toll free or go online to https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/.
Happy Tax Time!
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