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ACRES Awards

The American Council on Rural Special Education (ACRES) currently offers national awards to individuals or schools and agencies who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishments related to rural special education.

Exemplary Rural Special Education Program Awards

ACRES provides a plaque in any of eight categories:

CATEGORY 1: Preservice/Inservice Training
CATEGORY 2: Infant and Early Childhood Intervention
CATEGORY 3: Vocational Training and Transition
CATEGORY 4: Interagency Collaboration
CATEGORY 5: Services In Inclusive Environments
CATEGORY 6: Cross-Cultural Services
CATEGORY 7: Educational Technology
CATEGORY 8: Research and Evaluation

To be eligible for this award, nominees must:
  • offer a program in one (1) of the above categories that provides service to rural schools or communities
  • demonstrate that the program has had a significant impact on rural special education.
Nominations must consist of:
  • a completed nomination form describing the program, explaining why it is exemplary, and providing documentation of its quality
  • two (2) signed letters of recommendation from persons of influence in the community who are knowledgeable about the nominated program’s impact.
Download form to nominate/apply for this award

John W. Schuster Research Proposal of the Year Award

ACRES provides a $500 award to a graduate student proposing completion of thesis or dissertation research relevant to delivery of services to persons with disabilities in rural areas in the United States. The award is named for the late John W. Schuster, an early member and long-time supporter of ACRES, in recognition of his dedication to supporting graduate student research as a professor at the University of Kentucky. In addition to the $500 award, the recipient of the award is provided with a one year membership to ACRES and receives free registration to the ACRES National Conference the year after receiving the award (the awardee is required to present research outcomes at this conference). Selection of the award winner will be made on the overall quality of the proposal, relevance to rural special education and the potential impact of the research upon completion. This award is presented annually at the ACRES National Conference held in March.

To be eligible for the Research Proposal of the Year Award, applicants must:
  • Demonstrate that they are currently a graduate student
  • Demonstrate that the proposed thesis or dissertation research relevant to persons with disabilities in a rural area has been accepted by the faculty committee.
Applications must consist of:
  • a completed application form detailing key elements of their proposal
  • a curriculum vita or resume
  • one (1) signed letter from the student’s committee chair on department letterhead verifying acceptance of proposal
  • a research proposal that must be double-spaced and should not exceed 30-pages, including references.

The full proposal should include the following sections: (a) Rationale for the study, including a brief summary of relevant literature; (b) Purpose or problem statement; (c) research questions or objectives; (c) Methodology, including research design, measures, procedures and data analysis; (d) Hypothesized findings; (e) potential of proposed research to positively affect research, policy, and practice relating to rural special education.

Download form to nominate/apply for this award

Application and Review Process 

Please submit all award forms to:
Tori Colson,

ALL forms must be submitted by February 1, 2020.

The ACRES Awards and Scholarships Committee will review all applications, select recipients of awards, and notify ACRES Headquarters of the outcome. Award recipients will be notified prior to the annual conference and invited to attend the award presentation that will be made at one of the general sessions. Recipients do not need to be present to receive the awards but are encouraged to come to meet and network with other rural special educators. They also may be invited to present a session at the next annual conference.

For more information, please contact: