ETC gets $500K to serve students with disabilities

Youngstown State University’s Excellence Training Center, in collaboration with the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Columbiana County Educational Service Center, has been awarded a $500,000 grant to increase the participation in and attainment of industry-recognized credentials and apprenticeships for students with disabilities. 

The project through the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities-Pathways to Careers-Improving Post-Secondary Education Options for Students with Developmental Disabilities focuses on current high school seniors and those who graduated in the 2020, 2021 and 2022. 

The initiative is designed to assist those individuals in accessing post-secondary education, training or apprenticeships.

“We are already doing training here at the ETC and online with our Skills Accelerator,” said Jackie Ruller, ETC director, “so now we just want to focus on creating pathways for folks with developmental disabilities. The grant funding will allow us to make the appropriate accommodations, depending on what the student needs.”

The new program is seeking referrals of students who have an identified disability, including  students with 504 plans or on IEPs, students who have a developmental disability such as cerebral palsy or who on the autism spectrum, students with demonstrated specific interests, abilities or talents for computer work, data or numerical interests, capability for precision in working intellectually and/or kinesthetically or other interests that may be developed into an apprenticeship.

Training may require attendance at the ETC on the YSU campus, but some offerings may also be remote. Costs are covered by the grant funds. Apprenticeship opportunities will require attendance at the relevant place of business. Additional employment-related services may also be utilized, at no cost to participants.

YSU’s ETC is a workforce, education, research and commercial center focused on advanced manufacturing. Career pathways for all types of students include traditional and non-traditional certifications and industry recognized credentials offered in a wide range of areas such as IT, manual and CNC machining, industrial maintenance, robotics, automation and additive manufacturing. For a list of programs, visit

For more information, visit or contact Roller at; Shirley Bowald at the Columbiana County Board of Developmental Disbility at or Kitty Kromer at the Columbiana County Educational Service Center at