The Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) in Cranford is accepting applications for its August 27-October 19 semester. ACE offers adults with developmental or physical disabilities the opportunity to pursue continuing education as an alternative to traditional day programs.

"Adults with disabilities who have graduated from the public school system or specialized schools often have limited choices when planning their future," said Robin Morris-Marano, ACE director. "Their options often are limited to generic day programs that do not offer the intellectual stimulation and growth provided by our academy. Our program also is ideal for older adults with disabilities who wish to sharpen previously learned skills."

ACE’s course offerings for the upcoming semester include math, reading and creative writing, history, earth science, jewelry design and merchandising card making, visual arts and crafts, music, performing arts, career and financial literacy, media production and self-understanding/peer leadership.

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Based on their interests, students may take as many or as few classes as they choose, based on their interests.

"ACE differs from a traditional day program, where the attendee's day is planned for them," Morris-Marano said. "We work with our students and their families to help them select the classes that will bring them the most enjoyment and from which they will get the most benefit."

Tyler O'Neill of Scotch Plains, a person on the autism spectrum, has been attending ACE classes for two years and currently is taking Theater, Jewelry Design & Merchandising and Media. Last year he performed in the agency's annual musical and helped CAU staff film a promotional video.

"I like the opportunity to learn more," he said. "I enjoy creating and want to be a video game designer."  

O'Neill's mother, Kim, said attending ACE has been very beneficial for him. He did not like high school and was bored in a day program but very much enjoys going to the academy, she said.


"It gives him a social component to his life," she said. "All his friends go to ACE so it's his peer group. He works but there is not a lot of social interaction. Plus, he gets to continue his learning. And the staff is so supportive and encouraging that he has a lot more confidence."

Whenever possible, ACE curricula are developed in accordance with the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) guidelines, implementing Core Curriculum Content Standards along with compatible Learning Strands, Cumulative Progress Indicators and Student Learning Objectives aligned with the most current format information offered by the NJDOE, according to Morris-Marano. The ACE Program is approved by the New Jersey Department of Developmental Disabilities for Day Habilitation through the department's Supports Program.

More information, Morris-Marano can be reached at 908.354.3040, ext. 4671. For a course catalog, please visit

The Academy of Continuing Education is a program of Community Access Unlimited (CAU), a statewide Union County-based nonprofit providing support programs and services to adults with disabilities as well as youth served under the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to enable them to live independently in the community, providing supports in areas including housing, vocational skills and life-skills training, education, advocacy and recreation.


About Community Access Unlimited

Community Access Unlimited (CAU), celebrating its 39th year in 2018, supports people with special needs in achieving real lives in the community. CAU provides support and gives voice to adults and youth who traditionally have little support and no voice in society. CAU helps people with housing, life skills, employment, money management, socialization and civic activities. CAU also supports opportunities for advocacy through training in assertiveness, decision-making and civil right. CAU currently serves more than 6,000 individuals and families, with the number served growing each year. For more information about CAU and its services, contact us by phone at 908.354.3040, online at or by mail at 80 West Grand Street, Elizabeth, NJ 07202.