CUNY LEADS & Project REACH - Preparing Students with Disabilities for Successful Career Outcomes

with Barbara Bookman, Roberta Adelman, Chris Rosa

About This Course

CUNY LEADS (Linking Employment, Academics & Disability Services) is a unique program that prepares students with disabilities for realistic, successful employment outcomes by engaging them with LEADS advisors and activities as soon as they start college. Additionally, Project REACH (Resources and Education on Autism as CUNY’s Hallmark) has been developed to promote the successful and full participation of students on the autistic spectrum at the university. These highly successful program models, data, and case studies are presented demonstrating how participating students achieve successful career outcomes.

CUNY LEADS, (Linking Employment, Academics & Disability Services) was established as a grant and is now a permanent program at CUNY. From students’ first year at the university and continuing through successful employment, CUNY LEADS advisors provide academic support, career development, and job seeking services for students with disabilities. Building on the success of CUNY LEADS, Project REACH was developed to address the unique needs of students on the spectrum at the university.

Historically, students with disabilities have often been reluctant to participate in centralized campus services such as career offices, campus clubs, etc. and relied on the services of the campus disability offices. The individualized holistic approach of the program has resulted in unprecedented success for students who are generally otherwise regarded as a low profile at-risk population. Data collection after the first three years of the program show that participants had an 86 percent college retention rate, demonstrating how LEADS students have become connected to the university community. Most importantly, CUNY LEADS students who are job-ready have a 70 percent employment rate, which exceeds the national employment rate for college graduates with disabilities.

CUNY LEADS has become a community with a collective voice and identity that is well recognized and respected throughout the university, taking an active role in campus wide initiatives such as voter registration and university government. Project REACH, working in conjunction with CUNY LEADS, was developed to enhance CUNY’s capacity to support its growing population of college students on the autism spectrum and to educate faculty and staff about students with ASD. The program aims to increase student retention, improve the quality of the college experience, raise awareness and understanding of ASD, and facilitate successful employment outcomes by identifying and implementing best practices. Participation in CUNY LEADS & Project REACH empowers students with the skills, pride and confidence of belonging to a group of individuals that span the university who are gearing up to be the ‘leaders’ of tomorrow.

Learning Outcomes

This presentation will help the participants to gain a full understanding of the models and be prepared to learn more about how to initiate these programs at other institutions, which can be partially or totally duplicated.  Join us in this live briefing to:

  • gain an understanding of the structure and benefit of a program that will address unique needs of students with disabilities in the career arena;
  • learn how data collection can be pivotal in the process of evolving from a grant to a permanent university program; and
  • have the opportunity to learn about a career planning program that can be duplicated on other university campuses.


This session is $99 for NASPA members, $169 for non-members. Pricing will be accurately reflected in your cart.

Accessing the Presentation

Once you complete your registration, you will be able to access the course by clicking on the "Login" button at the top of this page (or any page on

  • You will be asked to login with your NASPA user name and password. Once you have done so, you will hit continue and be redirected to your dashboard in the Online Learning Community.

  • You will find the session listed under "Enrolled."

  • This session is recorded. By clicking into, "Contents," you will find the session recording, resources, and PowerPoint slides. You may view the materials as many times as you'd like, at whatever pace you would like.

  • If you have any difficulty accessing the materials, please contact Jace Kirschner (

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