Rock Valley College

A Transition-Focused Educational Program


The Rock Valley Academic Institute for Successful Employment (RAISE) program is a collaborative initiative involving Rock Valley College, local not-for-profit organizations, and local school districts to provide opportunities for adults who have intellectual disabilities to participate in inclusive post-secondary educational opportunities, gain independent living skills, and obtain the skills needed for competitive employment.

RAISE is designed to address student's unique learning needs by providing a comprehensive approach that includes career exploration, specialized vocational and academic instruction, and opportunities for social integration.  The RAISE program is based on a learning environment which takes advantage of the social aspects of campus and community life, and as such most courses are held on the RVC main campus.

Mission Statement


All individuals with disabilities deserve to live rich, meaningful lives and to be integrated into their community as fully as possible.  RAISE prepares students with intellectual disabilities for higher education and workforce opportunities through academics, work skills development, and social skills training.

The specific objectives of RAISE are to provide students with:

  • An enriched collegiate experience
  • An interactive and inclusive environment
  • Learning activities that transfer to lifelong independent living skills
  • Work ethics necessary for gainful employment
  • Self-respect and knowledge of individual strengths
  • Empowerment through education
  • Connections with post-21 employment and agencies
  • Certificate of Achievement in Career Readiness

Program Eligibility

Students MUST meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Submit Rock Valley College enrollment application and other forms included as part of the RAISE application process;
  • Provide results of the most recent diagnostic testing specifying reading, math, and written language skills to be at or above a 3rd grade level;
  • Have a documented intellectual disability;
  • Be able to follow the required college code of conduct;
  • Be able to manage all self-care needs and demonstrate sufficient emotional stability to participate in and adjust to all aspects of the program;
  • Be motivated and have realistic and tangible career and outcome goal; and
  • Be able to focus and participate in all program requirements.

    *Final candidate selection is at the discretion of the RAISE program staff.


Courses offered through RAISE  are designed specifically for individuals who would find traditional post-secondary educational opportunities challenging.  As such, coursework focuses on specific independent living, vocational, and academic skill development, with the goal of helping students to live in the community independently and to obtain competitive employment.

Coursework focuses on specific independent living, vocational, and social skill development, with the goal of helping students to live and engage in the community independently and/or to obtain competitive employment. Students who successfully complete all required coursework receive a Certificate of Achievement in Career Readiness.

RAISE program topics include:

• self-advocacy & civic engagement
• communication
• basic computer skills
• healthy relationships
• cooking & nutrition
• independent living
• public transportation & community safety
• healthy environment
• community resources
• career exploration
• work readiness
• career skills development

Courses are offered on Wednesday and Friday mornings during the fall and spring semesters. Courses are typically held on the RVC Main Campus, but on occasion may be held at RVC satellite sites and other community locations. All credits earned will be listed on the student's RVC transcript.

The Spring Course Schedule is now available. 

Scholarship Resources

A limited number of scholarships are available through the Rock Valley College Foundation.  The application deadline for the Fall 2019 semester is April 10, 2019 at 5 p.m.

To apply, or for more information on scholarships, contact the Foundation office via telephone: (815) 921-4500, Email:, or visit their website:

Program Forms & Information:

RAISE Course Schedule & Descriptions
RAISE Brochure
Instructor Guide
Student Guide
New Student Information Sheet
RAISE Program Intake Questionnaire
RAISE Enrollment Checklist
Spring 2019 Registration Form

Become a RAISE Instructor

Whether you desire extra income or wish to share your skills with others, teaching a RAISE class can be rewarding in many ways. Because of the nature of non-credit classes, instructors are not required to have degrees — just demonstrate expertise in their subject area. We are especially looking for individuals with expertise and/or backgrounds in special education and working with individuals with disabilities.

For more information on the RAISE program:

MaryAnne Ax
Program Coordinator
Phone: 815-921-2371

Disability Support Services: (815) 921-2371.