Human Services

STARability Foundation

Shining light on ability, not disability

Naples, FL


To transform the lives of individuals with disabilities through social, vocational and educational connections to the community, while strengthening awareness and respect for individual abilities.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Mrs. Karen Govern

Main Address

5125 Castello Drive

Naples, FL 34103 USA

Formerly Known As

Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled, Inc.


intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, social & recreational, employment, education, adult, life skills, vocational training, autism





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Autism (G84)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Monthly Social Event

Trailblazer Academy

Recreational Physical Activities

Photography Workshop

Next Chapter Book Club

Where we work

Charting Impact

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

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

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What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

In 2018, we changed our name to the STARability Foundation to reflect our focus on what people with disabilities can do, not what they can't do. Our roots date to 1983, when about a dozen parents came together to form a nonprofit known for many years as the Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled. We serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Our professional staff and more than 100 volunteers work to give more than 300 participants the quality of life they seek and deserve. Our participants are engaged and often amazed to discover their newfound abilities every day. Since 2014, enrollment has surged 100%, and we've almost doubled our program offerings, reflecting a growing need for quality programs that enhance lives. Our members are encouraged and nurtured to find what makes them flourish. We exist to empower our members and their caregivers and to give them a chance to connect through inclusive activities and events. We fill a need that exists for people with disabilities who have aged out of the school system. Our innovative and creative programs focus on continuing education, teamwork and community involvement.  We are the only affiliate of the Next Chapter Book Club in Southwest Florida for people with intellectual disabilities, and our Trailblazer Academy gives participants a unique opportunity to learn vocational skills to become a part of the workforce. STARability's photography workshop guides members to create images that go on display at venues such as Art Fest Naples and the Naples Art Association. Other programs include baseball, basketball, bowling, cooking classes and improv workshops. STARability's Trailblazer Academy continues to have a waiting list, and although we moved to a larger office last year, we are already over capacity. In 2017, we piloted an after-school program for special needs high school students, the Junior Trailblazer Academy, to help prepare them for transition to adulthood. In 2019, we opened the STAR Store, Upscale Resale & Stellar Art, in the Naples Design District, to increase our community presence. The STAR Store is a source of revenue for our organization, provides vocational training to our participants, and offers them a place to make and create candles and other items in the STAR*Made Studio. A long-term goal is to open a community center as a base of operations for training, education, enrichment opportunities and connections to the community.

Our strategies include: 1) Conducting a community-wide needs assessment to determine the potential demand for existing and future programs and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. 2) Through a newly established Facilities Committee, conducting research on available locations for a future STARability center and developing a business plan that identifies sources of support to fund the construction and maintenance of a center. 3) Growing and strengthening our Board of Directors with people who can lead our future growth and expansion by creating a professional board recruitment plan and on-boarding process. 4) Hiring a Development Director who will create the development infrastructure and capacity for more complex and comprehensive fundraising initiatives. 5) Enhancing our volunteer recruitment, training and retention efforts so that we can have long-term program support and expansion. 6) Integrating communications systems across all platforms for maximum efficiency and impact.

STARability's strengths are: -- Board leadership that brings energy, vision and dedication to seeing the organization succeed.  -- A professional staff that is passionate about the mission and always working to improve. -- The commitment of dedicated volunteers. -- History of service - STARability was founded in the early 1980s and has had an active role continually since then. (We were previously known as the Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled.) -- A growing base of donors. -- Filling a gap in service to disabled individuals in our community. We provide a real opportunity for individuals with disabilities and their families to communicate, connect and participate.  We offer educational and training programs and activities that are not offered by other organizations in Southwest Florida. -- Strong partnerships and collaborations, and our reputation for high quality programs.

Participation rates are key indicators of organizational progress.  Our enrollment has increased 100% since 2014, and we now serve over 300 individuals and their families.The Trailblazer Academy has served 54 people since its inception and currently has a waiting list of over 30 people.  We have 22 vocational partners, businesses and local organizations that are committed to giving the participants consistent, quality job experiences. One goal of the Trailblazer Academy is helping participants find employment. We have placed at least five participants in paid positions. Through their vocational training, Trailblazer participants contribute approximately 15,000 volunteer hours per year, showing the community what people with disabilities can contribute. Our donor base is expanding, and we have acquired several significant new donors in recent years. 

In 2018, we successfully re-branded to become STARability Foundation, shining light on ability, not disability.  We have doubled our program offerings since 2016, including our ground-breaking Trailblazer Academy. This program continues to have a wait list, but in January 2019 we expanded the program through grant funding. Additionally, we have partnered with more than 20 local businesses and organizations to provide on-site vocational training for Trailblazer Academy participants. In December 2018, we moved to a larger office space, doubling our square footage, to expand our on-site programs and activities. In 2019, we opened our first social enterprise, the STAR Store, Upscale Resale & Stellar Art.

External Reviews

Affiliations & Memberships

United Way 2015



STARability Foundation

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

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


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?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?