CFK proudly offers an inclusive postsecondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities and autism called Project ACCESS (Accessing Community College Educational experiences, Social experiences, and Skills for careers). Project ACCESS provides comprehensive and structured programs that include academics, social activities, employment experience, and independent living that are instrumental for students to achieve their goals.

Pathways to:

  • Industry Certification
  • College Credit Certificate
  • Employment
  • Independence

Parent College

Parent College was developed to give the parents a greater understanding of the Project ACCESS program, supporting the transition to college as well as material related to college resources, self-advocacy, and important college policies and procedures.

Individualized for Individual Success:

Students enrolled in Project ACCESS receive a truly personalized vocational and academic curriculum leading to a certificate of completion from the College, an industry certification in Customer Service and Sales, and in many cases, a College Credit Certificate. 

A STAR (Students Transitioning into Adult Roles) Plan is developed for all students. This plan is an individualized, person-centered plan that addresses each student’s strengths, weaknesses, needs, and desires. Based on the STAR assessment, CFK develops a personalized educational plan. Fields of study, program lengths, and structures vary for each student. This approach has proven the most effective for meeting the individual career and educational needs of the students, which ultimately leads to a greater likelihood of success.


Year 1- Project ACCESS certificate

In year one, students take courses that provide a foundation for entry into the workforce and/ or continued academic pursuits. Coursework includes but is not limited to: Learning with Technology, Career Exploration, Effective Living, Intro to Computer Applications, plus electives.

Year 2- College Credit Certificate

Depending on the student’s educational plan, they may keep studying to earn a college level certificate. CFK offers an array of certificate programs, including those in the fields of business, culinary, hospitality, diving, mariculture, and marine engineering. 

Internships & Employment

Student employment upon graduation is a primary goal of Project ACCESS and key to launching a pathway to independence. To reach this goal, all students receive workforce readiness training, including a Customer Service and Sales Industry Certificate through the National Retail Federation. Students then have the opportunity to practice their skills in real world settings through internships and paid employment. CFK will match students to career training opportunities that best match their individual goals and interests. 

Growth through Social Experiences 

Having fun, making friends, and feeling a part of the campus community are important components of college life. Through student clubs, campus activities, and residence hall living, students are further engaged in their learning experience at CFK while building confidence and valuable soft skills necessary for independence. Regular interactions with fellow students, instructors, and mentors help students develop soft skills such as oral and written communication, teamwork and collaboration, problem-solving, professionalism, and work ethic.

Project ACCESS students are required to participate in one student club and attend a minimum of two activities per semester. CFK has a variety of student clubs to satisfy a range of interests. Events like movie nights, barbecues, gaming competitions, and painting sessions provide opportunities for students to have fun throughout the year. 

Independent Living

CFK provides additional support for Project ACCESS students who live on campus in the College’s residence hall, Lagoon Landing. Students are paired with a Student Resident Mentor to help with daily living skills such as housekeeping, grocery shopping, and meal planning.

Lagoon Landing offers fully furnished four- and five-bedroom apartment units that include two bathrooms, living room, and kitchen. Amenities include parking, a 24-hour fitness area, picnic tables overlooking the ocean, and a short walk to class.

Resources for Success

Students are provided with an array of supports through the Office of Student Accessibility Services, the Learning Resource Center, residential, academic and peer mentors, success coaches, and academic advisors. Additionally, CFK works in conjunction with established resources including Vocational Rehabilitation, the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities, Project10, and many others.


Project ACCESS is a federally approved Comprehensive Transition Program, meaning eligible students receive Pell grants and can apply to participate in work-study programs without having to rely solely on institutional grants and Department of Vocational Rehabilitation funding. Additionally, the College was awarded enhancement grants through the Florida Center for Students with Unique Abilities in 2017 and 2020 and is an approved Florida Post-Secondary Comprehensive Transition Program. Because of this funding, eligible students are awarded a $7,000 scholarship annually to offset tuition, mentor fees, housing, and other costs.

Apply Now

Are you ready to start your application for Project ACCESS? Click here to fill out your online application.

Please note that when you are selecting your program of study that you must select "Project ACCESS." There are additional requirements for a student applying to Project ACCESS that will be added to your application with this selection. Once you submit your application, please send a 1–3-minute video detailing the following to Nicole Gerrard at

  • Your name
  • The reason you would like to participate in Project ACCESS
  • What you hope to learn while enrolled at The College of the Florida Keys
  • Your goals for the future (employment, etc.)
  • Your favorite social/recreational activity
  • Anything else you would like to include to support your application to Project ACCESS

Project Access Virtual Info. Session - March 13, 2024

5:30 - 6:30 PM
Learn more about CFK's Project ACCESS, an inclusive postsecondary education program for students with intellectual disabilities and autism. Project ACCESS provides comprehensive and structured programs that include academics, social activities, employment experience, and independent living that are instrumental for students to achieve their goals. Attend this virtual info session to learn more about the opportunities, ask questions, and start the application process for the Spring 2024 academic year. Questions? Contact Nicole Gerrard, CFK Associate Dean, Student Success Services at 305-809-3262 or

Think College

The “Think Higher. Think College.” campaign is part of the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network’s work to promote inclusive postsecondary education (IPSE) opportunities for students with intellectual disability. The goals of the campaign are to increase knowledge of inclusive college options, share information about the benefits and outcomes of students with intellectual disability attending college, and offer people ways to spread the message: “Think Higher. Think College.”
A team from Think College filmed on CFK's Key West campus and interviewed President and CEO Dr. Gueverra, as well as a few students in the Project ACCESS program. The project is part of Think College's new documentary to raise awareness of post-secondary options for students with intellectual disabilities. The College of the Florida Keys was one of three colleges, nationwide, to be selected to participate in this project. Please take a moment to check out this video.