The Institute for Disability Studies at the University of Southern Mississippi is located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and is officially designated as a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) by the U.S. government. The institute spearheads several inclusive employment projects that enable youth with disabilities in one of the United States’ poorest regions to access meaningful employment in equitable, inclusive settings, and has garnered acclaim from advocates across the country.

One of their most far-reaching initiatives is Project SEARCH Southern Mississippi, which works to increase the number of young adults with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and other developmental disabilities who are able to obtain competitive, community-based employment. Others programs include Step Up to Leadership Council and the Community Employment Program. The Institute for Disability Studies has a deep commitment to sharing its best practices in inclusive employment promotion with passionate advocates from other countries and has participated in a U.S. Department of State-sponsored pro-inclusion exchange program before. In 2017, the Institute trained and collaborated with an international Fellow from Kenya on an inclusive education project that later received funding from the U.S. government and is currently being implemented in Mombasa with international support. The Institute for Disability Studies sees this Fellowship as an excellent opportunity to deepen relationships with other likeminded advocates and is keen to support its Fellow.

Jerry R. Alliston is the Associate Director of the institute and served as the supervisor to Vincent Ogutu. He and his colleagues will provide mentorship and guidance to the Fellow as he designs his Fellowship project.