Building a More Inclusive Northeast Indiana in Rural Counties

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Photo of a group of Huntington University ABLE students posing in front of a building on campus.

Huntington University ABLE Students

As we work to implement our strategic plan, one of our main priorities includes a focus on funding programs in our rural communities. Since we’ve been out meeting with community leaders, community foundations, and nonprofit organizations throughout Northeast Indiana, I wanted to highlight several grantees making a difference in our rural counties.

Joe’s Kids

Joe’s Kids fills a critical role for families who have a child with a disability. Joe’s Kids provides physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and tutoring services to help children reach their maximum level of independence in the areas of gross motor skill and mobility, fine motor skills, sensory processing, self-care, feeding and swallowing, speech and language, and reading and writing. Joe’s Kids aligns with our mission of early diagnosis and intervention, serving 475 children in Kosciusko and ten surrounding counties. In August 2023, Joe’s Kids received a grant from AWS Foundation to renovate a facility to help expand the capacity of their growing clinic.

Huntington University Able Program

The Huntington University ABLE Program (Achieving Balance in Life through Education) is designed to support students with intellectual disabilities in having a college campus experience. The program started in 2014 and provides individuals with a robust college experience that includes auditing campus courses, and developing social, daily living, and independence skills through ABLE-specific classes and campus-wide activities. Students from counties throughout NE Indiana attend the program, and AWS Foundation has granted support to the program to help extend postsecondary education to individuals with disabilities.

Northeast Indiana Special Education Cooperative (NEISEC) Teacher Academy

The New Teacher Academy is a comprehensive and systematic mentoring program that supports teachers as they begin or transition to teaching in low-incidence special education classrooms. Over the past three years, NEISEC has hired 34 new teachers to fill vacancies. Of those 34 hired, they have been able to retain 26 of those teachers.

Participating districts in NEISEC include Central Noble, DeKalb Co. Central, DeKalb Co. Eastern, East Noble, Fremont, Garrett-Keyser-Butler, Hamilton, Lakeland, MSD of Steuben, Prairie Heights, Smith-Green, West Noble, and Westview.

These are just a sampling of the many grantees that serve our 12 northeast counties. Want to learn more about specific grantees? Check out our previous Community Reports to find out more.