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CITY Connections at Point Park University recently received a $15,000 grant from the Trustees of Massey Charitable Trust to add research and one-on-one mentoring to the program.

The CITY (Creating Individualized Transitions for Youth) Connections program provides students with autism and other mental and physical disabilities the opportunity for a university campus experience that mirrors the typical experience of their peers.

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"This grant will allow our education students to be trained to observe, listen and record data during each of their individual mentoring activities and then measure the effectiveness of their mentoring strategies on the CITY students' overall communication and social skills development," remarked J. Kaye Cupples, Ph.D., associate professor of special education and faculty program director for CITY Connections at Point Park.

Mentoring activities include engaging with CITY Connections students in volunteer and part-time work, auditing of college classes and social and recreational events held both on and off campus.

According to Cupples, education majors at Point Park who serve as CITY Connections mentors will earn field experience credit that can be applied to meet Pennsylvania Department of Education requirements for professional certification in special education.

Point Park University is one of only 13 schools in Pennsylvania approved for special education at the secondary level with the option for dual certification - and it's one of only a few universities in the Commonwealth to offer this option in a four-year program.

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In fall 2012, Point Park was the first four-year university to partner with Pittsburgh Public Schools to launch a CITY Connections program on its campus. The program has been designated as a model transition project by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and serves as a template for establishing programs at additional four-year colleges and universities in Pennsylvania.

Learn more about the CITY Connections program at Point Park in the article "Young Adults with Disabilities Sample Campus Life at Point Park," which was featured in the Winter 2013 issue of The Point.


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