By Madina Toure

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) announced a $1.1 million, five-year federal grant for Queens College to continue a disability services initiative that seeks to help low-income students with disabilities.

The funds, allocated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Student Services Program, will be used for the school to maintain its Disability Student Support Services project. The school will receive $220,000 every year for the next five years.

Under the program, 100 low-income students with disabilities are given support services to help them with their studies and ensure their graduation.

“Queens College does an outstanding job preparing students for their futures,” Meng said. “I am happy to deliver the great news about these important funds, and I’m pleased that that money will allow this critical program to continue. I look forward to many more Queens College students benefiting from the Disability Student Support Services project.”

The project’s services include an Assistive Technology Training program, an equipment lending program, assessments of career development and counseling, self-advocacy training, personal and academic counseling and academic advising and regular coaching through texts, emails and phone calls.

The college previously had the grant for about 20 years but lost it in 2005, according to Dr. Mirian Detres-Hickey, director of Queens College’s Office of Special Services.

She applied for the grant in 2010 and received a perfect score, she said.

“There’s always monies needed for disability services because disability accommodations do cost money and what I do is I try to ensure that the students have everything that they need,” Detres-Hickey said.

Detres-Hickey said the Office of Special Services, which serves about 700 students a year, is mainly funded by CUNY and Queens College, along with some grants.

“CUNY pays a great deal of money and the college pays a great deal of money to help support the office,” she said. “Without CUNY or Queens College, we would have major problems. We actually survive off of that. The other grants are very small.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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