College Living Experience Promotes Life Lessons For Students With Learning Disabilities Through Community Volunteerism

Over 100 CLE Students and Staff Commit 420 Service Hours To Community Projects Across the United States

Jul 15, 2013, 14:08 ET from College Living Experience (CLE)

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- College Living Experience (CLE), a national organization founded to help students with special learning needs achieve post-secondary education and independent-living skills, today announced for the 2012-2013 academic year the completion of CLE Serves and CLE Service Days, two CLE student volunteer programs dedicated to community improvement and personal enrichment for students with autism, Asperger's, ADHD, and other challenges.


As part of CLE Service Days, approximately 100 CLE students and staff committed over 420 volunteer hours across the United States for projects. CLE Service Day activities included preparing the grounds at Austin Dog Alliance offering dog therapy to autistic children in Austin, Texas; cleaning Laguna Beach and feeding the homeless in Costa Mesa, California; park clean-up at Mill Creek Towne Park in Maryland; raising money for Autism Speaks Walk in San Jose; working for Habitat for Humanity at its ReStore fundraising facility in Denver, Colorado; and providing companionship to the elderly in an assisted living facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  

Stephanie Martin, president of CLE, commented, "CLE Service Days immerses student volunteers in the local community to emphasize the reward of giving, develop a better understanding of people and the immediate surroundings, and explore potential personal and professional interests for a future career."  Community projects enable students to become more self-aware of their individual strengths and preferences such as working independently versus as a group, working indoors versus outside, or working for the care of people or animals. Students learn valuable career-building skills that prepare them for a professional job by teaching them to follow directions, maintain focus on a specific task, and communicate effectively and productively with colleagues.

Internationally, the CLE Serves program took student volunteers to Costa Rica and Spain. In Costa Rica, students participated in projects to support the local communities and ecosystems, while learning about the biodiversity of the country. In Spain, CLE student volunteers assisted hikers and pilgrims along the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) in northern Spain and spent time in Paris, France touring the city.  Nationally, CLE students contributed by improving trails at North Cascades National Park in Washington, and by participating in various service projects including recycling debris, spreading mulch, clearing walking trails, repairing wood fences, and trimming trees.

Each CLE Serves domestic and international trip is a voluntary opportunity for students with unique learning disabilities to get involved in any one of the excursions planned by the CLE team. This volunteer service opportunity also represents one of many situations in which students are challenged to make decisions, solve problems, engage in critical thinking, set goals, and understand how their own behavior affects the outcomes himself or herself, his or her peers as individuals, and the group as a whole.

"The philosophy behind CLE Serves brings students together from the organization's different programs across the United States to establish new personal connections and friendships," Ms. Martin added.  "Students with learning disabilities often feel outside mainstream culture, and as a result, they sometimes struggle with successful interaction with others.  CLE Serves provides a structured environment where students can examine new cultures and learn how to relate to individuals with similar backgrounds in a new setting, as well as how to interact with people outside the CLE experience."

The goal at CLE is to expose students to different learning environments that go beyond the traditional classroom.  CLE aspires to encourage students to develop their decision-making skills as an individual and as part of a team, which will give them greater life-living skills and social confidence to pursue an active and involved life on their own after they achieve their degree in higher education.  CLE Service Days and CLE Serves place the student in a community with real-life challenges where goals have to be identified and met.  This process helps each student define his or her own personal quality of life for a fulfilling transition from student life to adulthood.  These life-changing experiences lead to life and social skills that enable these students to pursue an integrated life that includes family, career, and community. 

About College Living Experience

College Living Experience (CLE) provides post-secondary support to students with autism, Asperger's Syndrome, ADHD, and other exceptionalities contributing to special-needs learning.  CLE develops an individualized support program tailored around the unique learning challenges of each student.  Founded in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, CLE now provides support and services covering academics, independent living, social skills, and career development in five additional metropolitan areas across the United States serving over 250 students every year.  Each CLE location in Austin, Texas; Costa Mesa, California; Denver, Colorado; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Monterey, California; and Washington, DC offers these pillars of support while students attend the higher education program of choice, including local community colleges, vocational schools, and universities.  The evolution and innovation of CLE is defined by the organization's mission to reach beyond the boundaries of traditional support systems to provide new opportunities to families and students with special learning needs. For more information about CLE visit


Tiffany Prior

College Living Experience


SOURCE College Living Experience (CLE)