SF State Inclusion Pilot Project

For Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

The SF State Inclusion Pilot Project facilitates authentic academic and social inclusion of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities who will be or have been awarded a certification of completion from a school district. Our goal is to make a college education—and the opportunities it provides for academic enrichment, socialization, independence and career development—accessible to those traditionally excluded from university campus life.

Inclusion Students

Inclusion students are supported to develop an individualized course plan aligned with their personal, academic and career goals. The individualized plan typically consists of courses from the regular course offerings open to all SF State students, social activities and career-related activities. Undergraduate peer mentors play a main role in supporting inclusion students to direct their college experiences leveraging each other's interests and strengths.

Inclusion students receive a certificate of completion detailing their academic, social and career accomplishments as laid out in their individualized plan. The project facilitates a network of natural and professional supports through close interagency collaboration.

The Program Currently Offers:

  • Student-directed decision making and planning process
  • In-class and out-of-class support from peer mentors
  • Integrated circles of support
  • Expanding the campus-wide focus on diversity, inclusion and equity work around disability
  • Prioritizing the voices and lived experiences of historically marginalized groups
  • Assistance with applying to the California Department of Rehabilitation Services for additional academic and vocational support services

Donate to Our Crowdfund

Your help will allow us to continue supporting our students and to expand the program to include more students with intellectual and developmental disabilities at SF State.

Meet the Inclusion Students

This project started in spring 2021 with a pilot cohort of three students. Each inclusion student is enrolled in one or two courses of their interest in different departments, and the coursework is modified or accommodated to their individual strengths and needs.

Natalie Marquina, Inclusion Student


"I have this belief that the smallest action can make an impact on someone’s life."

Sammi, Inclusion Student


"I enjoy drawing; drawing different kinds of characters with different appearances; and drawing new comics."

Khang, Inclusion Student


“I want to be able to cook and explore other countries' cuisines like French and Spanish food.”

Inclusion Student, Mateo


“I would like to be able to take care of myself, manage my frustration and be more kind.”

Augustin, Student


“Id like to be an animator because I like creating and drawing. I dream of having a job that makes me feel I can do hard work.”

Ishaan, Student


“The classes encourage and inspire me to focus and work more in the field of my favorite subjects.”

MaShay, Student


“One day I hope to become a veterinarian or one day work with little kids. I also want to publish my first book.”

Impact on the SF State Community

Inclusion Peer Mentor, Ash

Impact on Peer Mentors

“The first semester after graduating with a BA in Cinema, I was lucky to find the Inclusion Pilot Project. It’s very important to diversify the college classroom; I think it benefits students as well as professors to be surrounded by all kinds of perspectives. Working closely with my inclusion student a few times a week, I’ve also learned a tremendous lot from him. I never knew I could have so much fun helping someone understand the filmmaking process and encouraging him to further their skills on a career-focused path. I’ve come to love this program and everyone involved in creating IPP, and I hope we will continue to grow a more inclusive college environment for years to come.”

Ash Verwiel
Peer Mentor

Dean Alex Hwu

Impact on Faculty and Leadership

“The College of Professional & Global Education (CPaGE) helps expand access to SF State. In stewarding this new Inclusion Pilot Project, CPaGE provides a specifically designed pathway for developmentally disabled students that did not previously exist, to study at SF State. It also reflects SF State’s long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion on its campus. At the same time, it is extremely important for me personally, since I have a son who is on the autism spectrum. I have witnessed first-hand how important support and opportunities are for him to remain on a successful learning path. This program will support learners and families who would otherwise have to navigate a very complex system to access the benefits of higher education. We look forward to serving these new students at SF State.”

Shih-Hsung (Alex) Hwu
Dean, College of Professional & Global Education




Due to limited funding and space, this project is currently not accepting new applicants for the foreseeable future.

The Inclusion Pilot Project is specifically designed for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are earning or have earned a certificate of completion. In other words, this project is not designed to support young adults with disabilities who are earning or have earned a high school diploma. (See The difference between a high school diploma and a high school certificate by Understood.)

Additionally, the project does not offer residential options.

Please email inclusion@sfsu.edu for further inquiries.


Since the passage of the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), a growing number of universities have founded programs to improve access to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities. 

The latest national Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disability (TPSID) report (Grigal et al, 2020) shows positive outcomes for students in post-secondary inclusion programs, like:

  • Much higher (64%) employment rates than the general population of adults with IDD (18%)
  • 93% of the included students report that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their social life
  • 78% completed their program
  • Benefits for faculty and students with and without disabilities
  • Increased inclusive instructional practices consistent with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)


SF State Partners:

  • Department of Special Education
  • English Department
  • College of Professional & Global Education
  • Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
  • Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability
  • Disability Programs and Resource Center (DPRC)

External Partners:

  • Albany Unified School District
  • California Department of Rehabilitation
  • California Department of Developmental Service (Regional Centers)
  • San Francisco Unified School District
  • Oakland Unified School District
  • Dublin Unified School District
  • Think College


Email Inclusion@sfsu.edu
Instagram @SFSU_Inclusion
Facebook SFSU Inclusion Pilot: Students w/ Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities


  • Dr. Julie Paulson, Professor of English
  • Dr. Kathleen Mortier, Associate Professor of Special Education
  • Dr. Mayumi Hagiwara, Assistant Professor of Special Education
  • Sadie Egan, MA, Lecturer of Special Education
  • Amber Dinov, Inclusion Pilot Project Specialist

News & Events

Document Readers are required to view documents.