Project LEAD

About the Project

Applications for the Spring 2019 cohort of Project LEAD are due November 1, 2018.  Apply now.

RSVP for an information session:  September 20 and October 16

The aim of Project LEAD (Leaders Enhancing outcomes for Adjudicated youth with Disabilities with intensive needs in urban settings) is to prepare special educators and school social workers with knowledge, skills, and dispositions in their respective programs to earn initial certification and improve outcomes for adjudicated youth with disabilities in temporary detention center schools and in middle and high schools. The enormity of challenges faced by adjudicated youth with disabilities, their families, support personnel in high-poverty schools and in their communities is monumental. Lack of trained personnel with knowledge of evidence-based practices (EBP), missing collaborative networks, and continued disenfranchisement of high-need youth with disabilities combine to exacerbate the problem. Current success rates for youth with disabilities to enter and complete post high school education remain exceedingly low. Additionally, adjudicated youth with disabilities are at greater risk for unemployment, incarceration, and life in poverty.

Project LEAD is a collaborative effort between UIC’s Department of Special Education and Jane Addams College of Social Work. Building on long-standing partnerships with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Juvenile Justice Division of Cook County Juvenile Courts, the project will prepare 32 special educators and school social workers through scholarship funding to obtain their respective initial degrees and licenses culminating in either a MEd with initial state licensure as Learning Behavior Specialist I (LBSI) in special education or a master’s degree in school social work (MSW). Program components include core coursework, shared coursework, and coordinated assignments, experiences and other enhancements. Scholars will co-enroll in four courses (2 courses from each program) and three integrative seminars over three semesters. Seminars will be designed and co-taught by faculty from special education and social work. Coursework, assignments and field experiences will incorporate EBP from both fields and will enable scholars to be fully prepared to support adjudicated youth with disabilities.

The program course enhancements include (a) creation of a collaborative network of regional partners that will support the implementation of EBP with students with disabilities with intensive needs, (b) use of program curriculum and assessments that draw on key components for personnel preparation in special education, social work and adjudicated youth with disabilities, (c) expansion of interdisciplinary learning opportunities and practices in high-need urban schools, (d) provision of induction and mentoring support, and (e) development of innovative opportunities to network and improve their practice such as a 2-day Scholar Summit. Program graduates will become part of a network of induction support that will allow scholars to establish relationships with current program scholars and graduates.

Finally, Project LEAD will establish a website with free public access in which scholars and collaborative partners will post products and contribute to the field through their research, use of EBP, and creation of new knowledge through research and collaboration in their settings.


Eligible candidates include:

  1. Current students in the Jane Addams College of Social Work with a focus in school social work.
  2. General education middle or high school teachers licensed in Illinois to teach at least one academic subject area to general education students and interested in obtaining the MEd Special Education degree.

Additionally, all candidates must be interested in issues pertaining to adjudicated youth with disabilities in urban settings.

Application Process

The application deadline for the Spring 2019 cohort of Project Lead is October 1, 2018.

This application is only for general educators interested in puruing a Learning Behavior Specialist 1 endorsement.  If you are a current student in the Jane Addams College of Social Work (JACSW) with a concentration in school social work, please contact Annette Johnson at for more information about Project LEAD.

For general educators applying to Project LEAD, please follow these steps:

1. Apply to the UIC Graduate College

Applicants must complete the UIC Graduate School application. Submit your $70 application fee when completing the application.

2. Apply to the MEd Special Education program at the College of Education

Be sure to submit all corresponding documents with the application.

3. Complete the non-degree UIC application

Because all LEAD scholars will begin the program mid-year (January 2018), the university requires them to begin the program as "non-degree seeking" scholars. This is only for administrative purposes and does not affect your graduation status. Project LEAD is a degree-seeking program. Submit your $70 application fee when completing the application.

4. Complete the Project LEAD application

Access the application.


Skip Kumm
Project Coordinator