What happens to an exceptional child after high school? That was the question asked which lead to the creation of The Gracie Center in 2012. As a place where young adults can safely develop independence, the Gracie Center builds workforce skills, creates friendships, and allows for opportunities and partnerships with others in the community.
The Gracie Center is located in Kingston IL. Their purpose is to support adults with intellectual disabilities to reach their highest potential through innovative collaboration with staff, families, and communities. Participants in the program achieve a greater sense of independence and quality of life.
As a recipient of Community Needs Grants, and as a current member of the DeKalb County Nonprofit Partnership (DCNP), the partnership between The Gracie Center and the DeKalb County Community Foundation continues to expand.
In 2014, The Gracie Center was awarded a $1,824 Community Needs Grant for the creation of job boxes. Job boxes assist with skill development for participants in the areas of vocational, recreation, and life skills.
Over the next two years as the Gracie Center continued to grow, so did the desire for additional vocational training. In 2015, a $5,000 Community Needs Grant was awarded to purchase a trailer and start-up materials for a vocational training concession stand, the PopUp Shop.
The PopUp Shop made its first appearance as a vocational training concession stand on May 3, 2016, during the “Sycamore Depot Light Show” at the Community Foundation. Since this first event, the popcorn business has really taken off. The PopUp Shop has created five popcorn flavors, sold popcorn at events all over the county, expanded concession stand options for added variety, and supplied pre-popped bags of popcorn for larger events including 800 bags for the Corn Classic 10k/3k race in August. To date there are about eight Gracie Center participants that regularly engage in the vocational training concession stand.
“We greatly appreciate the Foundation for all of their support in helping us become who we are today. The grants awarded have helped us not only build the PopUp Shop, but also the skills the participants need to work in the shop,” said Julie Craig, Gracie Center Program Director. “We are thankful the Community Foundation staff and all the support and encouragement they give us. They believe in our mission and help us become better at who we are.”
To make a gift, learn more about philanthropy in our community, or to discuss starting a fund that aligns with your charitable interests, please contact Executive Director Dan Templin, at 815-748-5383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is Strength Through Partnership!
Pictured from left – Julie Craig, Program Director; Susan Covatta