Bethesda Lutheran Communities—and thus, Bethesda College of Applied Learning—will now be known under a new name: AbleLight.

The name change legally went into effect today. “AbleLight” was chosen to reflect the many skills and talents of people with disabilities while also demonstrating how the organization aims to be a guiding light for others and the field as a whole.

AbleLight College will continue to operate as a two-year postsecondary certificate program for students with intellectual and development disabilities. In 2014, Concordia partnered with then-Bethesda Lutheran Communities to launch the unique program which prepares students for independent living through a blended curriculum model centered on learners’ intellectual, vocational, social, personal, and spiritual growth. Enrollees live on Concordia’s campus and have opportunity to experience many of the perks of college life: participation in sporting events, clubs, and cherished events, to name a few.

“We believe the world shines brighter when people with developmental disabilities achieve their full potential,” said Cesar Villalpando, AbleLight Board of Directors chairperson. “With more than 7 million Americans who have an intellectual or developmental disability, our services are more essential than ever before. And our unique approach to supporting the whole person and our drive to continuously improve the world for people with disabilities are what set AbleLight apart in the field.”

College expansion into Michigan

In addition to the corporate name change, plans are underway to expand AbleLight College. Concordia has partnered with AbleLight to launch a similar, two-year certificate program for individuals with intellectual and development disabilities on the Concordia Ann Arbor campus. The CUAA-based AbleLight College is expected to open in fall 2022.

Related: AbleLight College to open in fall 2022 at Concordia University Ann Arbor

Since it’s start more than eight years ago, the CUW-based AbleLight College has graduated more than 37 individuals. This past fall, the college welcomed a new director, Laura Stanley Pelzel, as well as the largest incoming cohort since its inception.

“AbleLight College provides inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities and allows students to turn their dreams of attending college after high school or beyond, into reality,” says Stanley Pelzel. “Students live on the beautiful college campus and are truly immersed in the expectations and responsibilities of college life; including having roommates, doing laundry, completing homework, and studying for final exams. It’s the real deal and takes work and dedication from the students, which they proudly deliver.”

For more information

Learn more about AbleLight College by clicking here.

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