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Source:  Photo courtesy of Children’s Mercy Hospital
IDD Study Team: (top left): Melissa Patterson Hazley, Community-Based Researcher; Julia Ehana, Graduate Research Assistant, UMKC Institute for Human Development (IHD); and Kim Riley, CEO, The Transition Academy. (Bottom left): Dora Scroggins, Research Associate; Andrea Bradley-Ewing, Senior Director, Community Engaged Research; and Cassie Webb, Senior Research Assistant, UMKC IHD. Not pictured: Candace Cunningham, Individual Advocacy, UMKC IHD. 

 The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) awarded a 2-year, $250,000 Capacity-Building grant for a team project involving Children’s Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri-Kansas City Institute of Human Development, and The Transition Academy.” The PCORI grant focuses on addressing health disparities among Black youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The research will explore the persistent health disparities among Black children from womb to adulthood, and how these disparities are amplified when race and developmental disabilities intersect. Compared to their White and non-disabled Black peers, Black youth with IDD have poorer health and social outcomes.

In December of 2021, The Transition Academy (TTA) hosted a screening of Off The Rails, a documentary about a black man with a developmental disability who was obsessed with trains, leading to his eventual arrest for trespassing in a railyard. The story moved people at the documentary, and TTA promised to be an agent of change to combat this school-to-prison pipeline for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now TTA is thrilled to be a key part of this PCORI grant which will help prevent these youth from falling through the cracks. 

“The PCORI grant affirmed that this work to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, as it relates to black men with disabilities, is important and needed,” said TTA’s Founder Kim Riley. “This was the kickoff to bring together our community to work towards sustainable solutions. I’m very excited for the work ahead.”

The PCORI grant will create a Community Collaborative researching what gaps exist currently in the system for meeting the physical, mental, and social needs of Black youth with IDD. The group will also host listening sessions engaging members of the community who are impacted or serve the IDD community to address health disparities among Black youth and those from underserved communities with IDD. 

Receiving this grant is an important step in beginning efforts to find sustainable solutions to the disparities of Black youth with IDD and to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline for Black youth with disabilities.

About The Transition Academy
Kim Riley founded the nonprofit called The Transition Academy (TTA) in 2019 after she struggled with her own son’s transition into adulthood. Riley decided that students with disabilities deserve to have a better transition, one that helps students with disabilities connect to their passion and purpose so they can have a fulfilling life after high school. TTA’s mission is to make economic inclusion a reality for youth with disabilities, especially for young people of color who have historically been failed by systems. Learn more at thetransitionacademy.org.