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Registration Open for Dutchess Community College’s ‘Think Ahead’ Program for Fall 2018 Semester
College experience, job skills available for students with special needs; open house events planned March 21st and April 5th

Published: 3/20/2018

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie … Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced registration is now open for Dutchess Community College’s successful “Think Ahead” program, which offers a college experience, job readiness training and skills to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, for the Fall 2018 semester.

The program, which welcomed its inaugural cohort of non-matriculated students for the Fall 2017 semester, is an extension of “ThinkDIFFERENTLY,” Dutchess County Government’s initiative to foster a supportive environment for individuals of all abilities, which has been adopted by 88 communities throughout New York State since its inception in 2015.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Through the ‘Think Ahead’ program, Dutchess Community College and its president, Dr. Pamela Edington, have been great ambassadors for our ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ message – providing eligible students a unique opportunity to improve their quality of life, become prospective job candidates and find their purpose. Between academics, social skills and on-the-job training experience they’ll gain, students will benefit greatly from their ‘Think Ahead’ involvement. I encourage students and their families to explore the program and become part of this continuing success story.”

A collaboration between Dutchess Community College, Dutchess County Government, Abilities First Inc., Maplebrook School, Taconic Resources for Independence and the Arc of Dutchess, “Think Ahead” is a two-year, non-degree program which follows the college’s academic schedule.

Dutchess Community College will host two open houses for prospective students and their families on the following dates:

  • Wednesday, March 21st from 10 a.m. to noon at Bowne Hall, Room 105;
  • Thursday, April 5th from 5 to 7 p.m. at Bowne Hall 122.


Students and their families a can take an optional tour of campus following each open house, and they can RSVP for either session by calling (845) 431-8058 or emailing Applications will be accepted through April 15th.

Prospective “Think Ahead” participants must have New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities eligibility and be enrolled in the Home & Community Based Services Medicaid waiver, as well as an Individual Services Plan that supports the program’s course and goals at the time the courses begin. Additionally, “Think Ahead” students must:

  • be Dutchess County residents;
  • have completed high school and be at least 18 years old;
  • have long-term goals and job interests;
  • want to have a job experience;
  • have access to transportation to DCC’s Poughkeepsie campus;
  • be able to pay basic expenses, including books and supplies and a $25-per-semester college fee.


Upon successful completion, students will participate at graduation to receive a Certificate of Achievement. The curriculum is based on job-readiness training – a combination of professional, practical, interpersonal and social skills – and job experiences on the DCC campus will also be available to “Think Ahead” students.

Current students are finding the new program offering rewarding and exciting. The mother of Andrew, a student in the first “Think Ahead” cohort, said the program allowed her son to “to realize a lifelong dream: to attend college just as his brother and sister had done.”

Dr. Pamela Edington, president of Dutchess Community College, said, “Our school plays an important role in offering students – every student of every ability – the chance to benefit from our academic programs, campus life and the enriching, engaging environment created by our faculty and staff. ‘Think Ahead’ is the latest embodiment of that philosophy, and we’re proud to give that opportunity to as many students as possible.”

The father of a daughter who lives on the autism spectrum, Count Executive Molinaro established Dutchess County’s “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative as a call to action to local individuals, businesses and organizations to foster a welcoming and supportive environment for those with special needs.

Dr. Toni-Marie Ciarfella, Dutchess County’s Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, said, “The ‘Think Ahead’ program helps students of every ability reach their potential. In addition to lessons taught in the classroom, the program gives students the invaluable life skills needed to become a responsible and productive employee – one who contributes to their community. I thank County Executive Molinaro, Dr. Edington and our collaborators in the community for their willingness to ‘ThinkDIFFERENTLY’ and offer such an important program.”