This Spring & Fall we are offering a variety of open houses to learn more about the RAM Initiative.
The RAM Initiative application is now available for the 2024-2025 academic year.
Find more information in our Announcements section

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Real Achievement Matters
(RAM) Initiative

Inclusive Post-Secondary Education for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities at West Chester University of PA

The RAM Initiative is a program at West Chester University, bringing students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), ages 18-24, to campus in very small numbers, to participate in a two-year inclusive post-secondary education experience. In the inclusive RAM program students learn and interact with all students, faculty, staff, and administrators on campus, not in segregated environments. The students take classes on either For Credit or an Audit basis and have a non-traditional application/admissions process. Students in the RAM Initiative are full-time students, have full privileges of the university, and are eligible for Pell Grants and Federal Financial Work Study programs (if financially eligible by filling out a FASFA form).



Students with IDD are those who “have significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviors which covers many everyday social and practical skills” (AAIDD, 2017). These students come to the college experience without a traditional academic diploma, nor standardized test scores. We focus on students whose ages are between 18 and 24 as of the first day of the Fall semester of classes that they begin the program. These students have completed at least 4 years of high school and have been in Special Education and have had an Individualized Education Program during their school years.


RAM Initiative History

As a pilot program in Fall 2018, two commuter students went through the program on a trial basis to help to refine the process. In Fall of 2019, another student was accepted, in Fall 2020 two additional students were accepted, and in Fall 2021 two more students were accepted. Each completed their programs in 2020, 2021, and 2022, respectively. The program currently has five students enrolled and this is our largest group to date.


  1. Individuals with IDD have better employment outcomes when they attend post-secondary educational experiences.
  2. Inclusive opportunities with similar age peers provide a positive quality of life experience and ‘finding’ oneself, just like all other students coming to college.
  3. Daily living skills are practiced in real life settings.
  4. Self-worth is increased while students gain knowledge to hone their career interests.
Larry, Brian, and John


Provide inclusive post-secondary education to students with intellectual and developmental disabilities, to acquire skills leading to a more independent life.


  • Develop students who are empowered, employable and have career aspirations
  • Develop students who are self-learners and life-long learners
  • Develop students who are socially effective, healthy, and happy
  • Develop students who have social communication skills and have a high participation level in their community

Why should WCU?

The university has a history of supporting marginalized and underrepresented groups. As stated in our university mission we are a vibrant community that values its members, and we can offer a campus climate of acceptance. WCU is the flagship institution of the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). This pattern of excellence will continue and is applied to the recruitment, training, and retention of high-quality peer mentors for students who participate in RAM Initiative. We have vibrant professional preparation programs in special education, social work, psychology, communication disorders, and adapted physical activity, whose students regularly participate in community-based engagement programs with individuals who have IDD. We draw upon high quality peer mentors, supportive faculty, and staff to enrich our program.


RAM Initiative Announcements


  • RAM Initiative Open Houses

    This Spring we are offering an Open House for High Schools. If you are interested in having a HS group come to campus to learn more about the RAM Initiative, we have planned a common day, Tuesday April 23rd. This day is also available for any individual who is available during the day and wants to learn more. If interested, RSVP to the RAM Initiative email at In the email, include your school (child's name), number of students attending, and contact person. We have carved out from 9:30-12:30 for this day on campus.

    This Fall, we are offering two Open House events for the RAM Initiative for people who are planning ahead for 2024-2025 and beyond school years. On Monday 9/25/23 from 7:30-9:00 p.m. we will host a virtual session via Zoom. On Saturday 9/30/23 from 10:00-11:30 a.m. we will host an on-campus Open House. If interested, RSVP to the RAM Initiative email at In the email, include your child's name, current school and district, year in school, your name, and the desired Open House.

    Open House

    Saturday September 30 from 10-11:30 a.m. at West Chester University

    Please RSVP for the open house at:

  • RAM Initiative Application

    The RAM Initiative application is now available for the 2024-2025 academic year. To apply, download and complete the application . Comprehensive application packets are due/postmarked by November 28, 2023.

    RAM Initiative Peer Mentor Application

A group of woman staged in front of Philips.

A student with her arm around a football player.

A woman at Commencement holding her diploma up with one hand.

Three people sitting on a bench. The middle man is holding a laptop the woman and man (students) are looking at the laptop screen.

WCU RAM Initiative Staff:

Colleen Commisso, Faculty Co-Director

Dawn Patterson, Faculty Co-Director

John Craig, Dean, University College

Faculty and Staff of the RAM Initiative Alliance (advocates)

Supported by DREAM Partnership and the WCU Foundation

Contact RAM Initiative

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