Ready For Life Academy

Through partnerships at Hope College and Ferris State University, Ready For Life Academy (RFLA) has a local presence on their respective campuses in Holland and Big Rapids, Michigan.  This provides post-secondary educational experiences for college-aged individuals diagnosed with intellectual disabilities.

Each student begins the program by building a student-centered learning plan to develop realistic learning objectives and identify areas of natural talent to be further developed. Based on the student’s interests and abilities the college or university may offer credit or non-credit earning classes which are intentionally selected for the RFLA student to attend. The curriculum used at RFLA focuses on transition skills to help students gain independence and job skills.

RFLA provides support systems to ensure each student is provided the resources they need to succeed in a college environment. Each of our instructors at RFLA is engaged to assist each student in daily personal planning, and partners with Hope College and Ferris State University professors to adapt the academic materials from the college courses each student is taking. College students also volunteer as academic and social peer partners as additional support.

RFLA students are provided the opportunity to participate in campus activities and attend sporting events free of charge, with a level of support system.

Please scroll down to learn more about the highlights and opportunities of the Academy program, visit days, application process, uniqueness of each campus program and a comparison of both.

Program Highlights

RFLA Transition Classes

All RFLA Students take the following lifelong learning core transition classes:

  • Independent Living
  • Personal Finance
  • Relationships
  • Employment

Students are provided opportunities to take the additional support classes:

  • Academic Support
  • Belonging/Community
  • Genius Hour
  • First Year Seminar
  • Senior Seminar

Social Opportunities

  • Ready For Life Community Gatherings
  • Numerous Collegiate Clubs to Choose From!
  • Dormitory Gatherings
  • Peer Partners in Collegiate Classes
  • On Campus Dining
  • Worship

Job Internships

  • Individualized Job Internships On and Off campus
  • Bi-weekly Job Coaching and Assessment
  • Minimum of 3 hours/week
  • Travel Training if Necessary
  • Seniors receive RFLA Launch Coach to help secure employment following graduation.

Independent Living

Depending on the campus, students live in dorms or homes with support.  With Community Living Support Services (CLS) students will work on the following skills:

  • Grocery Shopping
  • Meal Planning
  • Cooking and Kitchen Safety
  • Budgeting and Banking Skills
  • Home Management
  • Cleaning
  • Roommate Conflict Resolution
  • Supported Instruction by Community Living Advisors and Housing Staff
  • Seniors receive support of RFLA Launch Coaches as they prepare to graduate and the year following graduation.

View the Brochure

Learn more about the Ready For Life Academy in our brochure.

Eligibility and Application

Eligibility Requirements

  • Is at least 18 years of age and not older than 26
  • Has completed high school with a certificate of completion or high school diploma
  • Has an intellectual/developmental disability and/or autism
  • Has a minimum 3rd grade comprehensive reading level
  • Has a minimum 2nd grade math level (basic addition, subtraction, time telling, money awareness)
  • Understands personal safety (mobility, technology, stranger awareness)
  • Knowledgeable of personal information – Name, address, phone number, email address, etc.
  • Has ability to write, type or dictate a paragraph
  • Has technology skills – calculator, computer, texting, assistive technology
  • Has basic conversation skills
  • Has future goals of living independently and having paid employment

Application Process

Parent/Guardian/Caregiver Requirements

  • Be willing to allow the RFLA student the dignity of risk to make individual decisions and move around campus and community without direct supervision
  • Sign financial contract taking responsibility for the cost of tuition & room/board
  • Desire open communication with Ready for Life Academy staff

Deadline for Application Submission is November 15

To See the Uniqueness of Each Program, Click a Logo Below

Academy Testimonials

I have to say it has been one of the most gratifying and educating experiences we have had; we will really miss it.

The best day all year was when I got my job placement at Hop Cat.   Thank you for making a difference in my life.
I don't know where I would be without Ready for Life.  It has enriched my life in ways I don't even know. Thank you.
I have learned so much this year about living on my own, working through many challenges and figuring out I can do It!!
RFLA has helped me grow as a person and as an independent adult.  I wouldn't be where I am today without it.