Grant Funding Announcement for Direct Support Professional Education Initiative in New York State
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Grant Funding Announcement for Direct Support Professional Education Initiative in New York State

Published: August 01, 2023

Watertown, NY - A partnership between New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) and the State University of New York (SUNY) has been established, supporting the academic and career success of Direct Support Professionals across New York State. Jefferson Community College (JCC) is a participating SUNY College, with the grant-funded Direct Support Professional 1 (DSP1) microcredential. Classes are set to begin fall semester - August 28, 2023. 

Direct support professionals (DSPs) work one-on-one with developmentally or intellectually disabled people, assisting with the daily needs of their lives. They may also be employed in childcare centers, residential treatment facilities, eldercare and respite programs or other human service settings. Students not yet working in the developmental disabilities field will be offered work-based learning opportunities with OPWDD or OPWDD-certified service providers. 

JCC Assistant Professor Mallory Jackson says, “We are thrilled to be partnering with SUNY and OPWDD to provide a transformative program designed to equip DSPs with specialized knowledge and skills through a comprehensive curriculum, hands-on training, flexible scheduling, expert guidance, and a clear pathway to a nationally recognized certification.”

The DSP1 microcredential at JCC prepares students to enter the workforce having received education in human services, ethics in helping professions and interpersonal communication. A microcredential typically consists of three or four credit-bearing college courses and is generally completed in as-little-as one semester, with many of the classes being offered online. 

The grant funding for this initiative will cover the cost of tuition, books, course materials and National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) credentialing for students and educational supports. In addition, the program offers a $750 incentive to eligible students who successfully complete a microcredential and earn NADSP certification.

Individuals eligible for the grant-funded DSP1 microcredential are those who are currently working at a participating OPWDD affiliated employer looking to meet new academic and career goals. Jefferson has established provider agreements with The Arc Jefferson – St. Lawrence and DPAO and is looking to add additional partners. The grant also seeks to add new workers to this profession, interested high school seniors and adult learners looking to move into the Direct Support workforce. Complete the microcredential registration form to register and an Educational Planner from the College will contact you to answer any questions about eligibility and to help you get started!

Successful completion leads to:

  • SUNY microcredential(s), college credentials
  • One or more national certifications
  • College credit toward a certificate, associate, or bachelor’s degree
  • $750 incentive

Registration is ongoing for fall semester classes beginning August 28, 2023 at JCC.  


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About Jefferson
Established on November 7, 1961, Jefferson Community College was the area’s first institution of higher education. Supervised by the State University of New York (SUNY), Jefferson offers 50+ associate degrees, certificates and microcredentials for career preparation or transfer; local access to bachelor’s and advanced degrees through partner institutions; lifelong learning through workshops and seminars; business and industry training; and provides community-based research and a forum for the productive discussion of ideas and issues of significance to the community through the Center for Community Studies. Jefferson is accredited by the Middle States Association and currently serves approximately 2,500 students, including a significant number of service members and their families. Please visit for more information.


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