About the UMatter Program
The Eileen Hoffman Hafer UMatter is an innovative inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) program created to provide young people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to experience higher education and campus life.
UMatter was launched in 2020 through a $900,000 grant awarded by the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities. The program welcomed its inaugural class of students to the USF St. Petersburg campus in August 2021. A $1.2 million gift made by Andrew and Eileen Hafer in September 2021 will allow the program to expand, through the College of Education, to all three of USF’s campuses.
With support from UMatter professional staff and mentors, students in the program navigate the transition from high school to college, acquire skills in socialization and independent living, and experience professional training through internships. Scholarship funds of up to $7,000 are available to eligible students to cover tuition, housing, fees and other expenses.
The program aims to help students increase their skills in the five program components based on their individualized goals and tailored program of study:
- Academic Access and Enrichment
- Career Development and Employment
- Campus and Community Engagement
- Independent Living
Students will complete their program of study by earning a certificate of completion and accomplishment and a Career Readiness Badge from USF based upon their individualized career goals and program of study. The Career Readiness Badge addresses eight essential skills employers look for when hiring interns or new employees:
- Career Management
- Critical Thinking
- Global Citizenship
Students who successfully complete the program will be in a position to obtain competitive employment aligned with their selected program of study.
Students in the UMatter program express a strong desire to continue their education in an inclusive postsecondary setting, explore careers and engage in work-based learning opportunities, and live independently.
Students experience campus life through various activities, including:
- Auditing college courses
- Joining and participating in student organizations
- Completing internships
- Applying for jobs and obtaining competitive employment
- Becoming responsible members of their communities
Students in the UMatter program may have the option to live on campus with support from residential coaches, which is a unique opportunity that less than half of the inclusive postsecondary programs in the state of Florida feature offer to program participants.
UMatter Program Brochure
Download a copy of our program brochure by visiting the link below.
UMatter Program Application
Ready to apply? Learn more about admissions requirements and the application process.