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IGNITE to further the success of scholars with intellectual disabilities at MVNU

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is excited to launch a new two-year certificate program designed to support high school graduates with intellectual disabilities.

November 29, 2023

Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s IGNITE program offers a fully engaged college experience for students with intellectual disabilities that includes inclusive courses, Spiritual Formation and Residential Life experiences.

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Mount Vernon Nazarene University is excited to launch a new two-year certificate program designed to support high school graduates with intellectual disabilities.

The residential program, called Independence and Growth Nurtured through Integrated Training and Education (IGNITE), focuses on academics, independent living, self-determination, and employment. Participants in IGNITE will also fully engage in Spiritual Formation and Residential Life programing.

“MVNU’s campus will be a richer place of learning when IGNITE scholars arrive on our campus. Students with intellectual disabilities have so much to offer and our campus community is excited to learn and grow together,” said Dr. Amy Kovach, Vice President of Academic Affairs at MVNU.

Students in the IGNITE program will be supported by an IGNITE Learning Partner as they engage in at least two inclusive college courses each semester. IGNITE scholars will also have housing and job mentors to assist in fostering meaningful connections and develop employment skills. During person-centered planning meetings, students will determine their career pathways and set goals for their futures.

The program includes structured internship opportunities. During the first semester, students participate in job shadowing and prepare for an internship. In the second semester, student will participate in an on-campus internship. This is followed by off-campus internships during semesters three and four. Students in the IGNITE program have the opportunity to experience holistic growth encompassing academic, social, and spiritual development, nurturing a sense of belonging and purpose within a supportive Christian community.

“Students in the IGNITE program will have the opportunity to live and learn alongside their college-age peers, which has not traditionally been available to students with intellectual disabilities,” said IGNITE Program Director Erin Tenney. “At MVNU, we believe that our entire campus will benefit from this program as we live and learn together. We are incredibly excited to welcome the first cohort of students to campus in the fall.”


To qualify for the program, potential students must:

  • Have an intellectual disability;
  • Have been eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA);
  • Have obtained a high school diploma or equivalent credential; and
  • Be between the ages of 18 and 25 when starting the program.

Costs for the IGNITE Program will align with traditional undergraduate costs. MVNU is in the process of completing the Comprehensive Transition Postsecondary (CTP) Program application. Once approved, IGNITE students will be eligible for three types of federal financial aid. Additionally, funding through Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and Medicaid Waiver funding may be available.

Online Information Sessions will provide important details about IGNITE including classes, internship opportunities, campus life and the application process. A question-and-answer session is part of each session.

Prospective students, parents, teachers, DD staff, OOD representatives, and Community Agency Representatives are encouraged to participate.

Sessions are scheduled for the following dates:
•Dec. 12, 2023, Noon to 1 p.m.
•Jan. 17, 2024, 5-6 p.m.

Login information is available online at

Prospective students and their families can visit in-person and virtually throughout the 2023-2024 academic year.

Students interested in IGNITE will apply to the program through MVNU Admissions, similarly to traditional undergraduate applicants, providing additional documentation.

The first class of students will begin in the fall 2024, with an inaugural enrollment of four to six students. Enrollment is expected to expand in the following years.

IGNITE has been supported by a generous gift from the Knox County Board of Developmental Disabilities and a startup grant from the Knox County Foundation.

The program is being developed and coordinated by Erin Tenney, IGNITE Program Director, who has focused her career on setting up those with disabilities for success.

For more information, visit or contact Erin Tenney at

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