Our Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program helps students develop skills, learn to self-reflect, make informed decisions, accept challenges, build social networks and make meaningful connections.

People with intellectual disabilities over the age of 21 who reside in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island may apply to attend the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program at the college listed for their borough.

College is an essential component of the preparation of young adults with disabilities to become productive members of their community.

AHRC New York City partnered with The City University of New York and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities to develop a fully inclusive higher education program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities in New York City. The Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program prepares young adults with intellectual disabilities for adult life through higher education coursework, campus life, civic engagement, self-advocacy curriculum, and career development.


Students are fully included in college courses. They go to class and are supported by their peer mentors. Peer mentors can help them manage their workload, attend study sessions, make appointments with professors, take notes during classes, and much more.

Student Life

College is not just about what you learn, but it is about meeting new people, finding your passions, and getting involved. Students join clubs and are a part of campus life. They begin to find their voice through campus activism and develop leadership skills. Student life is a combination of support from a peer mentor and support by other students on the college campus. It is another way for students and mentors to experience college life together.

Civic Engagement

Students are encouraged to involve themselves beyond the college walls as members of their local communities through exploring, connecting, and volunteering. They learn and become motivated to promote the quality of life in a community, working side by side with their mentors and other members of the community. Students get to know themselves and develop an identity as someone who has the capacity to make a difference.


Self-advocacy empowers students to speak up and learn how to make decisions for themselves. Students learn collectively with their mentors and other students about disability history and social issues that impact people with disabilities.


Career development is the goal for all students. Students are guided in career explorations and development through internships, both on and off-campus. Internships help students establish a vision and develop goals to create a path to employment.


Locations and Participating Campuses

AHRC New York City’s Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program at the City University of New York are available in the following boroughs and CUNY campuses:

The Bronx, at Hostos Community College
Brooklyn, at Kingsborough Community College
Manhattan, at the Borough of Manhattan Community College
Staten Island, at the College of Staten Island

Get More Information and Learn How to Apply

Questions? Find answers to our most frequently asked questions here.
Interested in applying? Learn more by visiting our application and admissions page.



Download a pdf brochure about the Melissa Riggio Higher Education Program