University of Minnesota
Check & Connect Student Engagement Intervention
Institute on Community Integration
Institute on Community Integration CEHD

School graduates tossing their mortarboards in the air.

Making a Map: Finding My Way Back

Making a Map: Finding My Way Back is a comprehensive, evidence-based project that supports juvenile offenders with disabilities transitioning from the Ramsey County Community Corrections facility serving youth in the Twin Cities area into school, employment, and community programs. Relevant interventions and frameworks are being utilized, such as the Check & Connect student engagement model (as seen on this website) and the Expanding the Circle Transition Curriculum, both products of the Institute on Community Integration, University of Minnesota.

The project is:

  1. Utilizing an already developed and tested reintegration framework and toolkit, the Reintegration Framework Systems Planning Toolkit, designed to support strategic interagency collaboration and planning to guide all project activities and achieve the goal of sustainability beyond the initial period of federal funding;
  2. Implementing Check & Connect to support students' reentry into and engagement in school and with learning;
  3. Implementing individualized goal setting and planning strategies focused on youths' academic development, positive behaviors, study skills, school completion, postsecondary education, and employment preparation using the Expanding the Circle curriculum;
  4. Conducting a comprehensive evaluation that fully documents the goals, activities, outputs, and outcomes of the demonstration model; and
  5. Creating a sustainable model through extensive interagency collaboration that continues the strategies and interventions used during the project to achieve positive results. 


The following organizations are partnering with the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration on this project:


David R Johnson, Principal Investigator and Director, Institute on Community Integration
Eileen Klemm, Project Coordinator, Institute on Community Integration

Cross Project Summary Report

Johnson, D.R., Mathur, S.R., Unruh, D.K., Griller Clark, H., & Qian, X. (2017). A better path, a better future: Three federally-funded projects supporting community reentry of youth with disabilities leaving juvenile justice facilities.Retrieved from University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration website:

In the News

For troubled Minnesota youth, a map out of the chaos
MPR News • November 10, 2015
"Six years ago on the night before Thanksgiving, Cody Nelson had a chaotic night. With four buddies, he broke into an abandoned house on the east side of St. Paul. After firing at a rival gang for beating up their friend, they returned to the abandoned house to drink, smoke and play a gun game they called "flinch." Nelson thought his gun was out of bullets. "I ended up shooting one of my best friends. Shot and killed him," he said. "I didn't shoot him on purpose." Nelson was 16. His friend, Darion Smith, was 15. After pleading guilty to manslaughter, Nelson served two years in juvenile detention. When he was released, he told a mentor he wanted more than a plan. He wanted a map to stay out of trouble." Read more

U finds ties to mentors, families help keep at-risk kids in school
MPR News • October 8, 2015
"The middle school and high school students who Jerome Graham mentors face an uphill battle to make it to graduation. He's the project coordinator for the Map Project, which reaches out to young people held in Ramsey County juvenile correction facilities to try to keep them in school. 'Pretty much all of our students have failing grades or are very seldomly in school,' Graham said. 'There's also some behavior issues, and also they're in the special education program, and also they're impoverished.'" Read more


For more information, please contact Eileen Klemm, Transition Program Area Manager, at the Institute on Community Integration.


Ideas that Work - OSEP logoThis project was funded for four years, from 2013-2017, by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Top of Page