Golisano Grants $140,000 to STARability Foundation

The STARability Foundation has been awarded a $140,000 multi-year grant from the Golisano Foundation to support its Trailblazer Academy program.  

STARability launched the Trailblazer Academy in 2016 to fill the void in community-based programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities after they aged out of school services.  In partnership with over 20 local businesses and organizations, STARability’s Trailblazer Academy provides vocational training, employment readiness, independent living skills and life-enriching opportunities for the participants.  The Golisano grant will allow STARability to expand this program to serve more people and to bolster the employment outcomes for the participants.

“We are excited and honored to begin this partnership with the Golisano Foundation,” said Karen Govern, STARability Foundation Executive Director.  “The Golisano Foundation is dedicated to empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through transformational and innovative solutions.  Their extremely generous support will help us hire additional staff to add more participants to the Trailblazer Academy and to increase advocacy efforts for the hiring of people with disabilities with local employers, which is the ultimate goal of the program.”

Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation, said the grant to STARability represents the Foundation’s first grant to an organization in Collier County. 

“We are pleased to provide financial support for this exciting project,” said Costello, “that clearly demonstrates STARability’s commitment to expand pre-vocational and employment opportunities for young adults with IDD in Collier County, and accommodate the growing number of participants who are waiting for services.  The program is comprehensive, building on teamwork and mentorship through on-site job training, life skills education, health and fitness, and opportunities for self-expression through arts.  Equally important, since programs for people with IDD are limited in the area, the Trailblazer Academy also gives participants a sense of purpose and meaning each day.”

The STARability Foundation shines a light on ability, not disability.  Currently serving over 250 individuals, STARability provides innovative and creative programs that focus on continuing education, teamwork and community involvement and showcasing what people with disabilities can do.  In addition to the full-time Trailblazer Academy, STARability’s program include life skills classes, twice-yearly photography workshops, weekly art classes, Improv classes, recreational basketball, bowling and baseball, Tai Chi classes and monthly social events.  STARability is the only affiliate of the Next Chapter Book Club in Southwest Florida for people with intellectual disabilities, with 5 book clubs that meet weekly. 

About STARability Foundation

STARability Supports people with disabilities by providing life transforming opportunities that emphasize Teamwork and connection to the community to build Awareness and Respect for individual abilities. In 2018, the organization rolled out its new name to reflect a focus on what people with disabilities can do, not what they can’t do.  Their roots date to 1982, when about a dozen parents came together to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit known for many years as the Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled.  They grew and evolved to become STARability, where a professional staff and more than 100 volunteers work to give their members the quality of life they seek and deserve.  STARability serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Southwest Florida, where they fill a void that exists after aging out of school supported services.  STARability opens up a whole calendar of engaging activities with innovative and creative programs that focus on continuing education, teamwork and community involvement.  For more information about the STARability Foundation and its programs please visit www.STARability.org.

About Golisano Foundation

The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the United States devoted exclusively to supporting programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000 from Tom Golisano, the founder and Chairman of Paychex, the Foundation now has more than $40 million in gross assets, has awarded more than $24 million in grants, about $2 million annually, primarily to non-profit organizations in a multi-county region surrounding Rochester, New York, Western New York and Southwest Florida.

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