Heartstrings Community Foundation

Independence through employment

Olathe, KS   |  www.heartstringscf.org


To provide unique employment opportunities for adults who have intellectual/developmental disabilities within local business communities. Many of these people have been labeled all their lives, and the first day they are part of Heartstrings, the new label they receive is "employee", which translates into "you are a valuable person".

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Mrs. Bunny Higgins

Main address

11599 S. Ridgeview Road

Olathe, KS 66061 USA

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NTEE code info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Citizen Participation (W24)

Employment Training (J22)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Organizational Employment

The unique HCF model employs Adults’ w/developmental disabilities through HCF owned businesses in organizational employment positions Monday through Fri. during the hours of 10 - 3.  The HCF employees have the opportunity to work up to 20 hours per week in the businesses owned and operated by HCF  – Goody Delivery®, Heartfully Made, HCF Gift Baskets and Sacks on Santa Fe.  They may also work in the community with the assistance of HCF job coaching. The employees work in teams of 3 with 1 staff member. All of these businesses pay the employees based on their independence, mastery of the skills and commission on sales.  Several of the employees are earning minimum wage.  All employees have business cards and are making business relationships in the community.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities

The innovative Heartstrings model provides ongoing job coaching & support for adults w/developmental disabilities in employment outside of Heartstrings. A job coach is available to help the employer teach the job to the new employee, maintain the quality of work, and to mentor and advise the staff on best way to work with the new employee.  The ongoing support from the job coach is essential for the successful employment experience.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities

Community Service and volunteering are important ways to belong to a community.  When an employee is not scheduled to work they may choose to volunteer.  Several HCF employees have made regular commitments to these organizations. HCF participated in Hospital Hill Run for 6 years as a Charity partner. Heartstrings employees and staff have participated with Meals On Wheels.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities

Where we work


Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) - Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments Accreditation


Affiliations & memberships

Chamber of Commerce 2009

Great Nonprofits 2011

TechSoup 2002

Nonprofit Connect of Greater Kansas City 2009

Olathe Chamber of Commerce 2018

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Heartstrings Community Foundation serves as an innovative catalyst for positive change by providing unique employment opportunities for individuals who have intellectual/developmental disabilities. Employment for these individuals has traditionally been limited to sheltered workshops, with little opportunity to build skill levels or relationships in the community.  We recognize that people with I/DD are individual who possess unique personalities and strengths, but have little opportunity as adults to expand on either. According to the CDC's 2016 report, "Recent estimates in the United States show that about one in six, or about 15% of children aged 3 through 17 years have a one or more developmental disability. Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language or behavior areas.  These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person's lifetime." U.S. Labor Department noted that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities, at 10.5% for the year, was "about twice that of those with no disability." As a licensed community service provider for adults with I/DD, Heartstrings Community Foundation focuses on providing successful employment and inclusion in the community for those who have little ability to achieve this goal independently.  Through employment at Heartstrings Community Foundation, 50 individuals have jobs that offer opportunities to interact with the general public - building on their abilities and personal interests to create opportunities for careers, and an increased network of supportive relationships.  Ongoing job coaching and facilitating opportunities for personal growth is the most important part of the plan Heartstrings provides for HCF employees to increase their independence.  Our teams are viewed by their customers as successful vendors, which expands many perceptions of disability vs. ability.  We know this model is successful, our businesses continue to grow, our customers have seen the value in HCF employees and  have offered jobs to some of them.  HCF staff also job coach our employees in positions in other businesses - increasing their business relationships, skills and pay. During the next three years, we plan to focus on expansion of Goody Delivery, securing additional business relationships. Long-term success will include, steady growth in sales ( 5% per year) and increased number of individuals with I/DD employed. Currently HCF only employs individuals living in Johnson County. During the next 3 years we plan to expand our employment service to include additional counties in the KC Metro Area.

The Heartstrings Team Model of one staff member (Team Leader) matched with three employees (Team Members) works especially well in our Goody Delivery (Mobile Snack Service).  It allows our teams to enter other businesses and engage in sales appointments successfully, with minimal disruption of the normal business activity.  We know this model is successful because our business continues to grow and some of the HCF employees have been offered jobs by their customers.   Our ultimate goals are to successfully employ adults with I/DD in the interactive jobs in the community. Heartstrings provides regular job coaching for employment in the community to ensure success for the employee and employer. Staff & employee training is an ongoing activity at Heartstrings to build on our knowledge, skills and abilities. A new curriculum has been created to teach the skills needed for Goody Delivery and Packaging. New measurement tools have been created to track the success of the employees knowledge and skill development. Ongoing job coaching and facilitating opportunities for personal growth is the most important part of the plan Heartstrings provides for HCF employees to increase their independence. Staff and employees are sharing business cards and making new contacts everywhere they go. The HCF Development team meets with current and potential business partners on a regular basis. The goal of these meetings is to create new business partnerships and obtain valuable feedback and referrals from current business partners.  HCF is also planning to collaborate with some of our business partners each year on community volunteer projects with Heart to Heart International. This will strengthen the relationships between HCF employees and our business partners as we work together, sharing a common goal and activity for good. We strive to make all our relationships a win - win. Building our businesses requires outreach from HCF leadership to increase business partnerships and alliances.

Heartstrings Community Foundation has spent 18 years developing a successful model to employ adults who have intellectual/developmental disabilities.  A license package is available to enable other entities to create  Heartstrings businesses in their communities.  This license package is available for groups who would like to inquire about licensing and consultations.Heartstrings Community Foundation has developed a respected reputation in the community and from our state licensing personnel. Heartstrings staff is trained in at least 8 areas and re-trained every year.   Incentives are offered to staff members who engage in extra classwork at the College of Direct Support.  Heartstrings Teams are successfully employed in the community every day. Currently our teams work with over 130 businesses in the KC Metro Area and  interact with over 400 people each week, building relationships. Staff participation with Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, Olathe Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Overland Park Association builds business connections. Staff and employees have business cards and are trained to use them liberally,  networking where ever they go each day. Many of our business partners are investing in our success through  referrals, donations, volunteerism and participation in annual fundraising events.

Heartstrings Community Foundation (HCF) has successfully developed a model that teaches adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities the skills necessary to be successful in paid jobs while providing interaction with the general public.  Heartstrings has developed a reputation for high standards and quality performance.  One of the obstacles hindering business expansion is a budget and expertise regarding marketing and public relations.  Getting the  "Heartstrings Story" told often and reaching a bigger audience remains a challenge.  Heartstrings has not met the goal of expanding our services to other counties within the KC Metro Area nor have we licensed any group outside of KC Metro area.  Looking back over the last 18 years it has been recognized by management and the BOD that in order to expand our services the business focus needed to be narrowed. HCF currently focuses on Goody Delivery, Sacks on Santa Fe and Job Coaching for employees in the community.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Heartstrings Community Foundation provides employment for adults who have developmental/intellectual disabilities.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Product pricing changes, Added specific trainings and evaluations, Event planning changes, raised rates of pay

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    The feedback has increased our communication with employees, staff, board and community customers. Increased our targets for success and brainstorming sessions.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,


Heartstrings Community Foundation

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Heartstrings Community Foundation

Board of directors
as of 05/17/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mrs. Cindy Bechard

Katheigh Degen

Twin Financial

Anne Hull

Heartstrings Community Foundation

Gavin Hull


William Degen


Lisa Woodruff

Metropolitan Mortgage

Doug Leibbrandt

Jennifer Juarez

Snacks On Racks

Carla Castle

New York Life Ins.

Kelsey Parker


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 5/17/2022,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/17/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.