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Partnership for People with Disabilities receives three grants totaling more than $2.8 million

Monday, October 23, 2017

The VCU School of Education's center, Partnership for People with Disabilities, was recently awarded three grants totaling more than $2.8 million over five years. The grants will contribute to the field of abuse prevention, help adults with disabilities be better informed healthcare consumers, and support people with disabilities to live in a healthier, more independent environment.

Donna Gilles, Ph.D.

Donna Gilles, Ph.D.

Below is a brief description of each grant.

Leadership Empowerment and Abuse Prevention (LEAP)

The three-year, $400,000 Leadership Empowerment for Abuse Prevention (LEAP) study, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Violence Against Women, will evaluate the Partnership’s existing curriculum toward establishing an evidence-base program and measures that are accessible to persons with mild, moderate and severe disabilities. Adults 18 years and over, with intellectual and developmental disabilities from a range of racial and ethnic backgrounds, will participate in the research.

“The aim of the project is to increase participants’ ability to know the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and to know what to do when met with an unhealthy situation,” said Dr. Donna Gilles, associate professor and executive director of the Partnership. Results from the project will be disseminated in multiple formats including reports and scholarly publications. Dr. Parthy Dinora will serve as the principal investigator.

Communication & Health Advocacy Training (CHAT)

The aim of the two-year, $200,000 study, also known as Project CHAT, is to increase the knowledge and skills of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in central Virginia about basic health information, and teach them how to communicate more effectively with healthcare providers, support professionals, and family members about their healthcare needs.

“Before developing a curriculum, we will conduct extensive research on existing health literacy training curricula,” Gilles said. A multidisciplinary advisory board will advise the project's activities and curriculum.

The project is being funded by the Virginia Board for People with Disabilities. Dinora serves as principal investigator.

Project Living Well

Working with a number of community partners and the School’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, the aim of the five-year, $2.2 million study, funded by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, is to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – both those using Medicaid services and those waiting for those services – to live independently.

“Project Living Well will also look at disparate monitoring practices occurring in the community, and provide quality assurance that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are safe from abuse and neglect,” Gilles said.

Gilles also said that these three wins demonstrate how the Partnership is now being recognized for its work under a broader ‘community living’ umbrella. “The Partnership has always emphasized early childhood interventions, consistent educational services, support for adults with disabilities – and healthy community living. What’s really exciting about these three grants is that we’re now being recognized more for the larger community living aspect, for supporting people with disabilities so they can live in a safer and healthier environment,” she said.

Gilles serves as the principal investigator with Dinora as co-principal investigator on Project Living Well.