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For people with Down syndrome, family members, caregivers and professionals.

College and Vocational Training Resources

April 2019 | Ann Garcia and Grace O'Connor - Patient Advocates, Adult Down Syndrome Center

This list of resources was compiled by Grace O’Connor and Ann Garcia, patient advocates at the Adult Down Syndrome Center. Some of these resources are specific to the greater Chicagoland area and/or Illinois. If you are looking for resources in another region, we recommend reaching out to a local Down syndrome parent organization.

College Resources

Options for College Success
1515 Maple Ave.
Suite 190
Evanston, IL 60201
  • Non-profit organization that supports students with disabilities with academics and independent living at colleges of their choosing.
Ruby’s Rainbow
PO Box 153095
Austin, TX 78715
  • Non-profit organization that provides scholarships to individuals with Down syndrome who wish to pursue vocational or enrichment classes or post-secondary education.
Think College
UMass Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125
  • Provides a college search tool for post-secondary options for people with intellectual disabilities. Also provides resources for preparing for college during the high school years, information about financing, and guidance on how to apply to programs.
Autism Speaks
  • Provides a Postsecondary Education Opportunities Guide that includes information about universities, community colleges, vocational/technical schools, and life skills programs. While it is geared towards individuals with autism, much of the program information is applicable to individuals with Down syndrome. 

Post-Secondary Programs in Illinois

College of DuPage - COACH Program
Glen Ellyn, IL
  • A two-year cohort program that focuses on academics, social skills, independence, and career exploration.
College of Lake County - Personal Success Program
Grayslake, IL
  • A two-year program that provides vocational training for a variety of professions and the chance to experience college life.
Elmhurst College - Elmhurst Learning and Success Academy (ELSA)
Elmhurst, IL
  • A four-year post-secondary program emphasizing academics, work experience, and social and recreational opportunities.
Harper College - Career Skills Institute 
Palatine, IL
847-925-6000 x2076
  • A two-year program to strengthen skills for employment and help students develop a realistic career plan.
Heartland Community College - Heartland Academy for Learning Opportunities (HALO)
Normal, IL
  • A two-year customized learning program in a community college environment.
Joliet Junior College - Vocational Skills Food Service Program
Joliet, IL
  • A vocational food service program to prepare students to transition into the work place.
Judson University- RISE (Road to Independent Living, Spiritual Formation, and Employment)
Elgin, IL
  • A two-year customized educational program in a Christian college environment that aims to prepare students for independent living and employment.
Lewis and Clark Community College - College for Life Programs
Godfrey, IL
  • Offers non-credit continuing education courses and the social opportunities of a community college environment.
Lewis and Clark Community College - Supported College Transition
Godfrey, IL
  • ​​
    • A two-year program that supports students in smaller sections of college developmental courses.

National Louis University - P.A.C.E. Program
Chicago, IL
  • A three-year residential post-secondary program to prepare young adults (18-28) for independent living. The curriculum integrates academics, employment preparation, life skills coaching, and social development.
Rock Valley College - RAISE Program (Rock Valley Academic Institute for Successful Employment)
Rockford, IL
  • A collaboration between Rock Valley College and local non-profits that emphasizes vocational and academic instruction, independent living skills, and employment preparation.

Find More Resources

We offer a variety of resources for people with Down syndrome, their families and caregivers and the professionals who care for and work with them. Search our collection of articles, webinars, videos, and other educational materials.

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Please note: The information on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for a medical, psychiatric, mental health, or behavioral evaluation, diagnosis, or treatment plan by a qualified professional. We recommend you review the educational material with your health providers regarding the specifics of your health care needs.