$1.25 million grant awarded to UAB to continue collaboration between schools’ efforts to enhance interdisciplinary training

Project TransTeam Evolution strives to improve outcomes for young children with high-intensity needs and their families through evidence-based practices and advance equity for children from diverse cultural, structural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Jennifer Kilgo 2RT scrJennifer Kilgo, Ph.D.In an effort to enhance early intervention/early childhood special education and support children with intense needs, Jennifer Kilgo, Ph.D., a full professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education, has received a $1.25 million grant from the Office of Special Education Programs to further the mission of an initiative called Project TransTeam Evolution.

This initiative is a collaboration among UAB faculty members Kilgo, who specializes in early childhood special education; Laura Vogtle, Ph.D., from the Department of Occupational Therapy; and Billy Ronilo, P.T., from the Department of Physical Therapy. The initiative aims to bolster the representation of scholars from diverse disciplines in the field of early intervention/early childhood special education.

In September 2023, the Office of Special Education Programs, part of the U.S. Department of Education, announced $35 million in funding for awards across the country, including Project TransTeam Evolution.

“This additional funding is so important because it provides scholarships and exemplary opportunities for students to be prepared in a way that I don’t believe is being done anywhere else in our state,” Kilgo said. “The research we’re doing on interdisciplinary teaming and collaboration supports what we’re teaching our graduate students through this program.”

During the last 25 years, Project TransTeam Evolution has evolved with the primary goal of increasing the number of scholars in EI/ECSE while enhancing the overall quality of education they receive. Recognizing the urgent need to advance equity and outcomes for young children, particularly in Alabama, the project focuses on addressing persistent personnel shortages in the state and actively recruits individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups, including those who are multilingual and/or come from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

The project is built on the latest research in interprofessional content, processes and practices. Utilizing the outcomes of past programs, Project TransTeam Evolution aims to establish a sustainable interdisciplinary preparation program at UAB, producing strong EI/ECSE leaders in Alabama and beyond.

The program offers a comprehensive early childhood special education curriculum leading to a master’s degree and teacher licensure. Additionally, it includes related services components in the clinical doctorate programs of Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

Learn more about degrees in early childhood special education, physical therapy and occupational therapy here.


Aiming to address critical areas of need, Project TransTeam Evolution focuses on preparing scholars to be leaders in transdisciplinary teams that include family members, general and special early childhood educators, and related service disciplines. It also strives to improve outcomes for children with high-intensity needs and their families through evidence-based practices and advance equity for young children from diverse cultural, structural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The project’s holistic approach encompasses a graduate emphasis in interprofessional teaming, ensuring scholars are well-equipped to work effectively in diverse team environments. Over a five-year period, the project plans to prepare 72 scholars from ECSE, PT and OT through an interprofessional graduate program, emphasizing shared coursework, team assignments and coordinated clinical experiences. Notably, 65 percent of the project’s total budget will be allocated for scholar support.

Project TransTeam Evolution also places a strong focus on the recruitment and retention of scholars from underrepresented groups, program enhancements based on recommended practices and professional standards, collaboration with high-need programs and schools, and widespread dissemination of project information and outcomes to contribute to interdisciplinary EI/ECSE personnel preparation across the country.