LSUA Celebrates Additional Funding for SPERO Program, Expanding Inclusive Education Initiatives Statewide

LSUA is excited to announce that the Postsecondary Inclusive Education Advisory Council has granted funding approval for expanding inclusive education programs at nine institutions across Louisiana. These transformative programs are designed to provide comprehensive support, cultivate an inclusive campus culture, and equip students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the necessary skills for success.

LSUA’s SPERO program launched in the fall of 2022 with four students under the leadership of Brittany Soden. On the funding announcement, Soden remarked, “As an advocate and member of Louisiana’s first Postsecondary Inclusive Education Advisory Council, I am proud to witness the approval of this funding for programs serving students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I am honored to take part in this powerful alliance. SPERO’s receipt of the award will allow for the expansion of support, staff, and supplies for the upcoming years.”

This round of funding fulfills the Council’s stated goal to expand programs across the state while paying special attention to the northern part of the state and ensuring HBCU participation. Further, results of a statewide survey indicate that eleven additional institutions are considering participation, reflecting the opportunity for future expansion of inclusive education across Louisiana. 

“Inclusive education programs have the power to transform lives, families, and communities,” said Commissioner of Higher Education Kim Hunter Reed. “I am delighted that so many institutions are seeking to open their doors to these amazing students, providing life and employment skills while enriching the campus experience for all.” Reed extended her sincere appreciation to Senator Gerald Boudreaux for his unwavering support in championing this groundbreaking effort, positioning Louisiana as a leader in creating educational opportunities for learners of all backgrounds.

LSUA’s Soden noted the SPERO students have completed their first year of college. Their dreams of a life similar to that of their siblings, family members, and friends are now being realized. She explained, “On the last day of their freshman year, I asked them how they felt about their first year of college. After a moment of silence, they expressed that they were experiencing an emotion that they have never felt before…the feeling of equality. Their participation in college courses, activities, and events has also been successful. Walking with them and hearing a SPERO student’s name shouted with a big ‘Hello’ from across campus is heartwarming and a testament to the diverse, accepting, and inclusive university that LSUA is. The students’ progress in daily living, social, and employment skills have exceeded expectations and they cannot wait for the next cohort of SPERO students to join in August!”

Written by Adam Lord

Photo credit – Nathan Parish | LSUA Strategic Communications