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Wayfinders at Fresno State

About Us

About Us

Wayfinders is a 2-year non-degree inclusive independent living certificate program for young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Participants of Wayfinders enhance their independence by residing in student apartments, participating in work experience internships, enrolling in courses at Fresno State through Open University, and actively participating in the community.

Wayfinders is recognized as a Comprehensive Transition and Post-Secondary Program and participants who complete the program receive a Work Readiness and Life Skills Certificate.

We believe...

We believe that young adults with developmental/intellectual disabilities have a right to post-secondary education along with their peers.  We believe that they have the same rights to life-long learning. 

We believe that students with developmental/intellectual disabilities never stop learning and are capable of learning meaningful information that will provide lifelong enjoyment. By providing them with campus inclusion as well as community and vocational exploration they will become tomorrow’s citizens, employees, and advocates. 

We believe that students of the Wayfinders program will become contributing members of their community thereby breaking the cycle of needing public assistance and/or life-long responsibility by extended family.  We celebrate the fact that all students have unique abilities and gifts to offer the communities in which they will reside.

We believe that persons with disabilities have the right to choose their life and direct their future.

Our Mission

The Wayfinders mission is to provide person-centered supports and services which advance self-determination, quality of life and life-long learning for students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.

Students of Wayfinders achieve their potential through campus inclusion experiences, independent living arrangements, and vocation placements both on and off campus.

Our Vision

Our vision is that students who complete Wayfinders will have productive and fulfilling lives in the settings of their choosing.

Our Philosophy

At Wayfinders we adhere closely to the Person-Centered Planning model. Person-centered planning attempts to identify and highlight the unique talents, gifts, and capabilities inherent in everyone. The planning focuses on the individual and his/her strengths, preferences, interests and needs (SPINs). It involves a whole team of family members, friends, professionals, and student. The team members are chosen by the student to help identify skills and abilities which can help achieve goals of competitive employment, independent living, continuing education and full inclusion in the community. The team then identifies where the student may need assistance and support and how to meet those needs.

Post-Program Outcomes

  • 62% living independently
  • 79% in paid employment
  • 58% continuing education
  • 94% very satisfied or satisfied with social life

Participant Testimonials

"Wayfinders helped me to learn how to take good notes, manage my calendar and time, shop for groceries independently, cook safely, and live within my budget. I enjoyed going to Fresno State classes, making new friends, and gaining work experience." - Peter Economy Jr., Wayfinders student, Fresno, CA

"Wayfinders helped me find a job that best suited my needs and strengths. I liked how there I received support in all domains. Staff was really helpful in my learning of how to clean, cook, and be a successful student." - Jeff Mintz, Wayfinders student, Santa Barbara, CA

"I learned so much at Wayfinders! I loved my cooking, hip-hop and art classes. I learned to manage my money and report my wages to SSI. I learned to believe in myself and do things on my own." - Marissa Erickson, Wayfinders student, Alameda, CA

"I learned how to budget, use public transportation, and talk a lot more. The program encouraged me to get involved in community activities and I learned that I enjoy volunteering!" - Jacob Mason, Wayfinders student, Novato, CA 

"While attending Wayfinders, I became an advocate and followed my dreams for the future!" - Nathan Lumpkin III, Wayfinder student, Antioch, CA

Family Testimonials

"There are not enough good things for me to say about Wayfinders and what it's done for our family. Our goal for our son has always been to gain as much independence as possible. In two short years, he gained far more than any of us ever imagined. He made progress in every domain and his life has completely changed as a result. This young man that specialists told us would likely never gain meaningful communication/language abilities, gave a speech that people understood!" Wayfinders is a model for inclusive education and promoting self-determination and self-advocacy for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Particiapntsin Wayfinders turn their potenital into progess with just the right level of support and encouragement." - Angela Mason, Wayfinders parent, Novato, CA

"In August, we dropped off our distraught daughter with severe separation anxiety who wasn't even able to spend the night at her grandmother's house. In Juse, we picked us a young woman who was looking forward to moving into her own apartment in a city that was an hour away from us! While Wayfinders didn't "fix" her anxiety/self-esteem issues, the difference in her was beyong anything I could have hoped for. She learned how to live on her own at Wayfinders and she is now living a life of independence. I am pleased and impressed wiht the Wayfinders program! The program is responsibe to each student's individual needs. Wayfinders challenged her. Her struggles and even mistakes were all part of the process of learning/growing. I wholeheartedly recommend Wayfinders!" - Seth Kimball, Wayfinders parent, Berkeley, CA

"A cutting-edge program and the best experience for our son on the spectrum. All of the staff are invested and share the values of independent living successfully. If we were to have the opportunity to do it over again, all we could ask for is a few more years. Thankful for such an opportuntiy for our son." - Tiffany Herron-Lumpkin, Wayfinders parent, East Bay, CA

"It was wonderful to watch our son blossom from a shy, quiet boy to a confident, independent, and funny young man during his time at Wayfinders. The support he received from his coaches and case manager helped him accomplish his goal of independence." - Carol Michael, Wayfinders parent, Sacramento, CA
"Our son had a remarkable experience at Wayfinders, and we were very pleased with his teachers, coaches, and other staff. We especially liked the efforts Wayfinders made to integrate our son and the other program participants into the general student body -- living in an apartment building just off campus were many students live, taking regualr classes, and participating in student activities such as going to concerts and basketball and other varsity games. My wide and I highly recommend the Wayfinders program at Fresno State -- our son achieved his dream of attending college while expanding his independent living skills, and his confidence grew as a direct result." - Peter Economy Sr., Wayfinders parent, San Diego, CA 

"We are very happy with the mature, self-condifent young woman our daughter has become while she was away at the Wayfinders program. Wayfinders gave her the opportunity to be successful while learning important life skills and independent living skills in a nurturing, supportive environment. We are very grateful to the staff and coaches for providing her with the tools she'll need to live a rich, fulfilling, and meaningful life." - Vicky Halliday, Wayfinders parent, Pleasant Hill, CA


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