Lee Association for Remarkable Citizens (LARC) has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the Golisano Foundation to support the expansion of LAB: Learn, Achieve, Become. LAB will offer an experiential learning environment for hundreds of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) that transforms traditional program areas into spaces for innovation, vocation, demonstration and learning. Five Labs will focus on skills for work and independent living and include Lab for Living, Wellness Lab, Smart Living Lab, Vocational Exploration Lab and Collaboration Lab.
“The goal of LAB is to prepare individuals with IDD for success and meaningful inclusion in our community,” said Kevin Lewis, LARC Executive Director. “That requires important skills that build upon each other. Not only vocational training, but self-care, managing their day to day environment, navigating technology, and interacting with others. LAB works because we recognize each of these layers as crucial components to increased independence and empowerment.”
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted to supporting programs and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was founded by philanthropist and entrepreneur Tom Golisano, who has supported several non-profit organizations in Southwest Florida including Golisano Children’s Hospital.
The Foundation’s grant will support phase two of LAB, which prepares space for the Wellness and Smart Living Labs on LARC’s Fort Myers campus. The grant also supports a LAB staff person who will oversee and implement the LAB curriculum. The Wellness Lab provides a place to learn about healthy living, fitness, nutrition, oral health, advocacy, skills for self-care; all paramount to success in everyday work and life. The Smart Living Lab teaches people how to live and thrive in a touch screen world, from ordering meals, navigating transportation, applying for jobs, operating everyday appliances, using the internet and computer software.
“We are honored to receive this grant from the Golisano Foundation, which is the largest private foundation grant in LARC’s 65-year history,” said Angela Katz, LARC Development Director. “There are more than 3,700 children in Lee County Schools with cognitive disabilities and the Foundation’s generous support will allow us to better prepare the individuals we currently serve and future generations to live more independent and fulfilling lives.”
“We appreciate the important role and services LARC has provided to those with IDD in Lee County over the organization’s long, proud history. We’re happy to assist the agency as it evolves to address current and future needs by creating opportunities for independent living in a more inclusive community in SW Florida,” said Ann Costello, Director of the Golisano Foundation. “LAB’s innovative, person-centered approach will empower more individuals with IDD to make their way productively and creatively in their communities.”
The Wellness and Smart Living LABs will complement the LAB for Living, which opened in July. LABS for Living is a mock apartment-style setting that provides participants with hands-on training in daily living skills. Phase three, which is planned for the future, will include the Vocational Exploration Lab, with a commercial culinary training kitchen designed to meet the needs of hospitality employers, and the Collaboration Lab, which will introduce LARC participants to change makers in our community. Initially, all of the Labs will be accessible to LARC participants as well as families. Over time, LARC’s goal to offer schools and other likeminded organizations access.
To learn more about LARC and LAB, contact Angela Katz, Development Director at 239-334-6285 x229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.larcleecounty.org.
Established in 1954, LARC Inc.’s mission is to empower and support individuals with disabilities and their families to reach their full potential. LARC is a 501(c) 3 that provides programs and services for approximately 300 local men and women annually. The nonprofit offers vocational training, community residential services, and a vast array of other state-of-the-art community inclusion services on a full-time, year-round basis. LARC’s main campus is located at 2570 Hanson Street, Fort Myers, and has a satellite campus in Bonita Springs. LARC also operates two Residential Group Homes located in Cape Coral and North Fort Myers. For more information, contact Angela at 239-334-6285 x229 or visit www.larcleecounty.org.
About the Golisano Foundation
The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the nation devoted to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. The foundation was founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano, entrepreneur, civic leader, and philanthropist and the founder and Chairman of Paychex. Mr. Golisano’s philanthropy now exceeds $300 million. In addition to Mr. Golisano’s personal philanthropy, the Golisano Foundation awards about $2 million annually to non-profit organizations serving people with intellectual disabilities in Western NY and New York’s Finger Lakes Region and Southwest Florida. The Foundation expanded to Southwest Florida in 2017. GolisanoFoundation.org