A $2.7 million grant will fund another five years of operation for the Institute for Human Development’s Arizona University Center on Disabilities.

The center, on the campus of Northern Arizona University, offers academic programs, provides community training assistance and conducts applied research related to disability services.

“On a yearly basis, we impact hundreds of people,” said Richard Carroll, executive director of the center, which also includes program sites in Phoenix and Tucson.

The grant was awarded by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Federal funding supports a network of 67 university centers across the nation, with at least one in each U.S. state and territory.

The Arizona center has been in place since 1990, when it received the first of its ongoing series of infrastructure grants via the Institute for Human Development, Carroll said. Today, NAU students may pursue three graduate certificates or an undergraduate minor in the area of disabilities studies.

“The intent is to create leaders in the field of disabilities services,” Carroll said. “Students who go through these programs often end up as the head of an agency or in program management. Prior to the existence of the university center, they were unable to get this kind of training.”

Around the state, the center conducts in-service special education teacher training, Carroll said, in addition to training at agencies in various communities, such as teaching behavior management skills to agency staff. The center also engages in problem-solving for disability service programs.

The center also has a mission “to produce research that contributes to improved services to people with disabilities,” Carroll said, adding “99 percent is applied research about efficient and effective services for people with disabilities.”