VAST LIFE is a program through the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and Teach For America designed to provide students ages 14-21 the opportunity to have community based experiences, transitional assessments and lessons, and cultural events in the great city of Philadelphia customized for them by graduate students who are seeking Masters of Education and Special Education Certification in the Commonwealth.

Tailor-made lessons and experiences designed to enhance and develop your child's skills are all provided at no cost to families and individually crafted by graduate students of education. Read more about us below: 

University of Pennsylvania spotlight:
VAST LIFE Program Expands Horizons of Students and Future Teachers 

In The Notebook:
University of Pennsylvania Program Helps Students with Disabilities

Criteria for Gaining Admission into VAST LIFE

  • Must be 14-21 years of age at the time of enrollment
  • Must be a PASA candidate in the state of Pennsylvania
  • Must be able to attend all five sessions, including “snow date”

Program Highlights

  • VAST LIFE participants will enjoy Penn's historic campus and the city of Philadelphia while working on community & transition skills.
  • Participants will be selected to engage in various cultural and community experiences designed to educate and assess students with developmental and intellectual disabilities in the areas of social, life, vocational and transitional skills.
  • Participants will receive one to one guidance and small group learning as they are provided with enriching opportunities on Penn's campus and the city as a whole.
  • Participants will develop a greater understanding of:
    • transportation
    • awareness of skills required in leisure settings such as museums, theaters & social events
    • functional math skills
    • various types of jobs in our city and on a college campus
    • pedestrian safety

How to Apply

We are currently accepting applications for the 2021 season.  Must be able to attend the Saturdays below. All sessions are a 10:00am drop off and 4:00pm pick up on Penn’s campus.

  • January 23, 2021 - 1st Session
  • February 20, 2021 - 2nd Session
  • March 20, 2021 - 3rd Session
  • April 10, 2021 - 4th Session
  • **April 24, 2021 - Makeup snow date if needed
  • May 1, 2021 - 5th Session

Meet and Greet on December 7, 2020 from 5:30 to 6:30. This is an opportunity for you and your child to meet the graduate student who will be working with your child for the Spring Semester.

Be sure to complete all 3 parts of the application.

  1. Questionnaire for Parents of Children Applying to V.A.S.T. L.I.F.E 
  2. VAST LIFE @ PENN Participant Release of Liability Assumption of Risk Agreement
  3. Waiver

Please send all questions and completed applications to Dr. Heather Hopkins. Applications will be considered for admittance on a first come first serve basis, as long as qualifications are met. Please email