Volume 4 Issue 9

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State Updates:

Mesa Presenter ASPIRE Arizona is gearing up for Fall! Over 50 families attended the ASPIRE Arizona regional conferences this summer. They gained valuable information from Arizona Youth Leadership Forum, Vocational Rehabilitation, Autism Acceptance Counseling, Ability 360, and the OM Initiative, a pro-active mental health tool . Case managers are sharing information about the many ASPIRE opportunities for youth and families. Attendance at Financial Education and Self-Determination classes is increasing as teens and families learn more about preparing for the future.

Coming up in ASPIRE Arizona for August/September are:

  • Self Determination workshops in Mesa, Phoenix, Cave Creek, Yuma, Tempe, Glendale, and San Luis
  • Financial Education workshop series in Gilbert, Phoenix, Lakeside, Phoenix, Casa Grande and Yuma
  • Raising Special Kids workshops in Phoenix, Yuma, Tucson, Sahuarita, Mesa, Lake Havasu city, and Bullhead City
  • Job Fairs and Employment workshops including help with resumes and interview skills, and training on customer service and time management
Contact ASPIRE Arizona with any questions at 844-260-2890, toll free.

Colorado ASPIRE Case Managers are always looking for opportunities for ASPIRE youth and families to discover their interests and creative talents.

This month Case Manager Jilda Falco collaborated with the S.A.M.E (So All May Eat) Café to feature two ASPIRE youth’s artwork through the month of September. SAME Café is a donation-based, fair exchange restaurant that serves healthy food to everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Their mission is to create community through healthy food access. S.A.M.E. believes in healthy food, community, and dignity for everyone.

Robert and Maya are very excited to be featured on the walls of the café this month. Robert chose to display his drawings, and Maya is featuring her photographs. Both accomplished artists are eager to share their creative abilities with the Denver community.

Please join us, for a reception to honor the ASPIREing artists, at The S.A.M.E. Café at 2023 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80206 on September 27, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.

ASPIRE Montana families are taking charge of their futures by participating in Benefits Counseling. They gain a clear understanding of how benefits work, and ways to earn more money while keeping their health care. Equipped with this knowledge and the support of their ASPIRE Case Managers, families are returning to work.

Veronica and Victor ASPIRE parent, Veronica, left her job to care for her son, Victor, when his seizures increased in frequency and severity. Veronica felt she could not go back to work because they needed Medicaid to cover the high costs of critical medications and procedures. This left the family with benefits that were not meeting their needs. . They felt stuck between choosing health care and having enough money to pay for other essentials without going into debt.

Victor met with a Certified Benefits Counselor, and learned how employment really affects their benefits. He has now set a goal to get a part-time job. To prepare for a job, Victor has learned how to read job descriptions, apply for jobs, and take advantage of the career services in his community. Victor is also gaining independence and exploring assistive technology to help him move into employment and through life more safely and independently. Veronica is planning to return to work. They also share the information they have learned with the rest of their family. These two and their other family members are connecting with services, applying for jobs, and moving toward financial security without risking the loss of their health insurance.

North Dakota
A new school year has begun and ASPIRE North Dakota is excited for the fresh beginnings that a new school year brings. Several ASPIRE students, who graduated from high school in May, are starting a new adventure at college. They are learning to live on their own in the residence hall, navigate the college campus, understand new class schedules and make new friends. Some ASPIRE students finished their first year of college last year and decided to transfer to a different school to continue their education. Others are beginning high school transition programs to focus on independent living and employment skills. This is an exciting time of year!

Felicia In keeping with new beginnings, ASPIRE welcomed Felecia Davis as a new Case Manager for ASPIRE North Dakota. She is a native of Pascagoula, MS. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology from Judson College of Marion, AL, a Master’s degree in Child & Adolescent Therapy, Masters of Elementary Education, and a Specialist degree in Higher Education Administration from William Carey University of Hattiesburg, MS. In addition to her educator’s license, Felecia carries several endorsements and is completing her studies at Walden University with a Doctorate of Education, with an emphasis in Administration Leadership for Teacher Learning by the end of 2019.

Felecia joins ASPIRE with fifteen years’ experience serving youth and adults with mental and physical disabilities. Most of her career was spent as a teacher at Title I school in Southern Mississippi, where she became the Lead Teacher. Felecia has also worked at Job Corps, Pine Belt Mental Healthcare Resources and an all-male mental health inpatient hospital as a Special Education teacher and Psychometrist.

Felecia has been married for five years and has a fourteen-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, making arts and crafts, spending time with family and friends. Welcome to ASPIRE!

South Dakota
Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation In July ASPIRE South Dakota partnered with the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation to provide financial training and self-determination training to ASPIRE families. Thunder Valley is a grassroots Community Development Corporation that is building a community as a catalyst to create systemic change on the Pine Ridge Reservation. ASPIRE youth and their families were invited to make vision boards, discuss ways to save for financial goals and given a tour of the Thunder Valley facility. In addition ASPIRE youth and families were given information on opportunities for home ownership, youth leadership, workforce development, the Food Sovereignty Initiative’s Small Demonstration Farm and more. It was also a chance for families to learn more about the ABLE Savings Program and get a start on that process.

Several families have already signed up for additional classes at Thunder Valley and have said how excited they are to work toward goals that they never thought were possible. To learn more about these and more opportunities, contact ASPIRE South Dakota at

Jason just began his senior year in high school. But he already has a head start in preparing for college next year. That’s because Jason, along with his ASPIER Case Manager and a few other ASPIRE youth, toured 5 different universities this summer. Jason, who has a mobility disability, was particularly impressed with one university’s general campus layout and easy-to-navigate facilities. Another university was notably adept at marketing with their enthusiastic tour guides and offering several fun perks throughout the day. But Jason will likely settle on yet a different school because of a family tradition. Jason’s Case Manager is encouraging him to start applying now for available scholarships in his field of interest, bio-sciences. Go Jason!

September 15, 2018

In This Issue:

The Director's Corner

North Dakota
South Dakota

ASPIRE Website

Follow ASPIRE on Facebook

"Include Us in YOUR Newsletter!"

ASPIRE Partners

Contact Us

The Director's Corner

Fall is alive with opportunities! With the cooling of the temperatures, a new energy seems to spark life into everyone! Each September, students are heading back to school, on to college or into new jobs! The teenagers who enrolled in ASPIRE up to four years ago are growing up and moving into adulthood!

ASPIRE has a lot happening with just nine months to go. It’s the last year for the PROMISE research study. These young adults are finding they still have a lot to learn. ASPIRE Case Managers have been meeting with them and their families to talk about future financial needs. They are discussing scholarships and funding for job training, as well as ABLE Accounts. These are special tax-benefited savings accounts that let a person save for the many expenses that result from having a disability. The best part is that Social Security, Medicaid and other public benefits won’t generally count the balance in the accounts when considering how much a person has in assets. It’s a win-win all around.

To learn more about ABLE Accounts and a special opportunity through ASPIRE, contact your Case Manger today. You won’t want to miss this!!


Carol Ruddell
ASPIRE Project Director


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 some 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.

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:

ASPIRE Partners: Utah State Office of Rehabilitation, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, and the Office of Public Instruction, Colorado Office of Community Access and Independence, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, South Dakota Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, North Dakota Center for persons with Disabilities at Minot State University, Arizona Governor's Office for Children, Youth and Families

Be a part of the ASPIRE Newsletter

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