RISE Center History

1974-10-01 16:36:45

RISE begins

On October 1, 1974 RISE was funded by the U.S. Office of Health, Education and Welfare as a demonstration program designed to serve young children with physical disabilities from birth to five years of age. The Rural Impact Stimulation Environment Program was led by Dr. Loretta Holder Brown and was one of the first 150 early intervention programs granted federal funding across the country. Located in one room of a house on the campus of The University of Alabama, RISE served six young children with a staff that consisted of a teacher, a teacher assistant and a family service coordinator.

1977-10-01 16:37:57

UA Program

After three years of federal funding, The University of Alabama assumed funding for the program in 1977. At this time the RISE program expanded to three classrooms and served 24 children. The focus of the program also expanded to include a more diverse population. In addition to serving children with cerebral palsy and spina bifida, RISE began serving children with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities. Additional services were added to the program including consulting speech, physical and occupational therapists. The program also began using integrated therapy as an underlying curriculum consideration

1978-10-01 16:37:57

Wilson Hall

In 1978 the program moved to Wilson Hall and the converted women’s dormitory would house RISE for the next 16 years.

1982-09-17 17:01:43

Classic Photos

These photo's are from the beginning of the RISE Program

1986-10-01 16:37:57


By 1986, the program had expanded to include 60 children with special needs and their typically developing peers. Dr. Martha Cook assumed leadership in the late 80’s and the program began to change dramatically in scope. The curriculum changed to reflect a blending of recommended practices of early childhood special education, early childhood education and child development. The program expanded to become a more complete unit on campus, addressing not only the mission of service, but also teaching and research. The funding of the program became a combination support from the University, state contracts, grants, fundraisers and private donations.

1988-10-13 19:54:22

RISE gives youngsters extra help

University News Bureau

1989-04-08 18:37:42


Honduran learns to RISE to the occasion

1990-10-01 16:37:57

Gene Stallings

In 1990, Gene Stallings became the head football coach at The University of Alabama and immediately became an advocate the RISE program. His son, Johnny was born with Down syndrome in 1962 in Tuscaloosa when Stallings was an assistant football coach at Alabama for the legendary Bear Bryant. Having little of no support when Johnny was born, Coach Stallings and his wife Ruth Ann appreciated the availability of services provided by the RISE program. Their support, friendship and dedication to the RISE program contributed to the programs continued success and longevity. In 1991, a special employment program was initiated that provided employment to adults with Down syndrome.

1991-04-10 18:48:49

RISE Staff

RISE Staff

1992-01-14 16:36:45

Tuscaloosa Chamber of Commerce

Johnny Acock pictured with Jennifer Morrison and Marcus Prince. Photo by Neil Brake.

RISE Center History

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