STARability Foundation

Shining light on ability, not disability

Naples, FL   |  www.starability.org

Mission

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 info

1986

Chief Executive Director

Mrs. Karen Govern

Main address

5125 Castello Drive

Naples, FL 34103 USA

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Formerly known as

Foundation for the Developmentally Disabled, Inc.

EIN

59-2516162

NTEE code info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Autism (G84)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Individuals with disabilities struggle to find jobs, continue their education and be included in their community. At the start of 2020, we were serving 300 individuals with disabilities. Participants in our signature program, the Trailblazer Academy, were making great strides. But the daily structure and consistency that the Trailblazer Academy offers participants ended on March 16, 2020 when we suspended in-person programs because of the COVID-19 outbreak. However, we quickly changed our program delivery model to virtual platforms so that participants could continue learning and engaging with their community. We then expanded our virtual offerings to try and reach participants in other programs. The coronavirus outbreak has affected the individuals we serve. Virtual platforms are not a program-delivery solution for many participants who still prefer face-to-face engagement. Reaching this group of participants remains a challenge.

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?

STAR Connections

Our largest program, STAR Connections features weekly classes and activities and monthly social events. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, this program is being held virtually.
Classes, workshops and activities include:
• Bingo
• Photography exhibitions
• Musical theater
• Garden club
• Health and wellness
• Computer class
• Nutrition class
• Tai chi
• Improv
• Yoga
• Next Chapter Book Club
• Cooking class
• Trivia
• Club STAR dance club
• Recreational sports leagues (baseball, basketball and bowling)

Population(s) Served
People with learning disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

Launched in September 2016, the Trailblazer Academy is a program unique to Southwest Florida.  After age 22, special needs young adults age out of the school system and the structure and support that it provides.  Transition and post-transition services are critical for these individuals to learn and develop skills necessary for various employment, independent living and overall quality of life. 

The Trailblazer Academy offers continuing education, vocational training and life-enriching experiences through in-person and virtual instruction and activities to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The curriculum's goal is for participants to gain life skills to become more independent and to prepare them for employment.

Assigned to one of three groups based on their abilities, participants engage in virtual and/or in-person classes/activities five days a week, or about 40 hours a week. Through partnerships with 20 community businesses, the participants have vocational training in a variety of industries. They take math and personal finance classes, participate in book clubs, improv and music sessions, and learn about nutrition in cooking classes, among other activities.

They also practice employment readiness skills including workplace communications, resume writing and job applications. For those who are ready for a job, our employment specialist works with participants to update their resume and complete job applications. The specialist connects participants with prospective employers and offers on-site job coaching once they are hired. The program served 42 participants in FY 2020.

The Trailblazer Academy has adopted a means of assessing ability that was initially developed by Virginia Commonwealth University's Rehabilitation Research & Training Center. This evidence-based approach focuses on building knowledge, skills and communication abilities in eight life skills that instructors teach through in-person and virtual classes/activities. The life skills are:
1. Self-determination and advocacy (i.e., greater independence, personal responsibility across settings, problem-solving abilities, ability to ask for help)
2. Health and safety (i.e., nutrition, fitness, personal safety)
3. Peer relationships and social communication
4. Community participation and personal finance
5. Leisure and recreation
6. Transportation
7. Career path and employment
8. Home living

Population(s) Served
People with learning disabilities
People with intellectual disabilities

The Junior Trailblazer Academy offers high school students, ages 14 to 21, with intellectual and developmental disabilities a structured, community-based after-school curriculum to prepare them for transition to young adulthood after high school and greater independence.

The Junior Trailblazer Academy curriculum focuses on vocational training and life skills, continuing education and life-enriching experiences. Participants meet at River Park Community Center in Naples, Florida, and also venture to community partner sites for instruction and activities. Instructors meet with up to 12 participants, three hours a day, five days a week.

Modeled after the Trailblazer Academy, the Junior Trailblazer Academy also assesses students through a Virginia Commonwealth University model that focuses on building knowledge, skills and communication abilities in eight life skills. The Junior Trailblazer Academy instructors develop and teach a curriculum through in-person and virtual classes/activities. Instruction centers on these life skills:
1. Self-determination and advocacy (i.e., greater independence, personal responsibility across settings, problem-solving abilities, ability to ask for help)
2. Health and safety (i.e., nutrition, fitness, personal safety)
3. Peer relationships and social communication
4. Community participation and personal finance
5. Leisure and recreation
6. Transportation
7. Career path and employment
8. Home living

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities
People with learning disabilities

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of adults with disabilities receiving sufficient social and emotional support

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Older adults, Young adults, Adolescents, People with intellectual disabilities, People with other disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of participants who gain employment

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Young adults, People with intellectual disabilities, People with other disabilities

Related Program

Trailblazer Academy

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Facebook followers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Older adults, Young adults, Adolescents, People with intellectual disabilities, People with other disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Older adults, Young adults, Adolescents, People with intellectual disabilities, People with other disabilities

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

We serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Collier County, Florida, by providing them community-based vocational training and continuing education opportunities as well as life-enriching experiences through art and social activities. 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. 

Our signature program, the Trailblazer Academy, gives participants a unique opportunity to learn vocational skills to become a part of the workforce. In March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic forced us to suspend in-person classes and activities, we quickly changed our program-delivery model to virtual platforms. This pivot has enabled us to continue providing virtual programs to many of our participants. The Trailblazer Academy, focuses on developing eight core life skills that lead to greater independence. Our goal is to continue offering engaging programs with measurable outcomes that include participants achieving 85% skill mastery.

Modeled after the Trailblazer Academy, the Junior Trailblazer Academy is a structured after-school program for high school students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This program helps prepare students for a transition to young adulthood. Our goal is to continue offering engaging programs with measurable outcomes that include participants achieving 85% skill mastery.

The STAR Store, Upscale Resale & Stellar Art, in the Naples Design District, continues to increase our community presence. The STAR Store is a source of revenue for our organization, provides vocational training to our participants, and is the site of our social enterprise program, called the STAR*Made Studio. Participants make candles and other products at the studio, and their work is sold at the store to support our mission. Our goal is to expand our product mix to include hand-made home decor items.

Finally, 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 goals are classified in three strategic functional focus areas, as outlined in our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan: Programs, Fundraising and Development, and Community Engagement and Marketing.

Programs:
The strategic focus is to refine and grow our existing programs and ensure their availability for current and future STARability participants.
1. Identify options for facility expansion that can increase our physical space and grow participation in current and new programs.
2. Develop a staff surge capacity to respond to the demands of our staff-dependent programs and accommodate personnel tempo of arrivals, absences and departures.
3. Enhance the outcomes of the Trailblazer Academy and increase its seasonal capacity to serve more participants of varying ages and abilities.
4. Increase the inclusiveness and skills development of our programs as we provide more options for our participants.

Fundraising and Development:
The strategic focus is to ensure the sustainability of current STARability operations and establish a foundation for future growth and expansion.
1. Raise a minimum of $1 million annually at the Star Gala and widen the circle of major and corporate support, while positioning the event as a “must attend” function in the Naples charity event season.
2. Create the capacity necessary for complex and comprehensive initiatives such as a capital campaign.
3. Diversify revenue streams so that the Star Gala is no more than 50% of total revenue.
4. Create a culture of philanthropy throughout all levels of the organization.

Community Engagement and Marketing:
The strategic focus is to significantly expand awareness of STARability’s mission and work, demonstrate our impact in the community and build lasting partnerships.
1. Build our credibility in the community with key leaders who can provide advocacy and support for the critical needs of our programs and services.
2. Strengthen internal and external communications.
3. Become the community leader for raising awareness and promoting respect for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities so that they can lead meaningful and productive lives.

STARability's capabilities include:
-- Impact reporting. We have adopted a means of assessing ability that was initially developed by Virginia Commonwealth University's Rehabilitation Research & Training Center. This evidence-based approach focuses on building knowledge, skills and communication abilities in eight life skills that Trailblazer Academy instructors teach through in-person and virtual classes/activities. The life skills are: 1. Self-determination and advocacy (i.e., greater independence, personal responsibility across settings, problem-solving abilities, ability to ask for help) 2. Health and safety (i.e., nutrition, fitness, personal safety) 3. Peer relationships and social communication 4. Community participation and personal finance 5. Leisure and recreation 6. Transportation 7. Career path and employment 8. Home living
-- Program adaptability. With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, we changed our program delivery model to include program delivery through virtual platforms. Virtual programs are now a permanent and critical component of our program offerings.
-- Lesson plan development and partnerships with respected regional institutions. We've embarked on a project to document lesson plans and instructional practices tied to participant goals and ability measures. The lesson plan series will make up a first-ever curriculum guide for working with young adults on community-based skill development. We're partnering with regional universities and county specialists in Exceptional Student Education on a peer-review process. In September 2020, we convened an advisory board that includes an esteemed researcher in the field of autism and neurodiversity from Florida Gulf Coast University and a program director in the field of occupational therapy with Keiser University. The peer-review process will ensure we optimize instructional activities with proven, evidence-based best-practices.
-- 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.

In 2020, we pivoted to a virtual program delivery model as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Our programming staff now can shift between online and in-person instruction as we continue to adapt our class and workshop schedules to meet the needs of participants while ensuring their safety. For example, while small groups meet in-person with three or four instructors, other instructors are simultaneously leading live virtual classes or creating recorded videos of activities. We anticipate using this model in the short run. Once we can safely resume in-person instruction at full capacity, virtual lessons will continue to complement our curriculum.

We also continued to build on program success by creating an evidence-based program tracking model and program curriculum. In June 2020, we partnered with families to take an interim read on what was happening at home, especially related to participant goals, which cumulatively make up our program's top impact areas. Programming was interrupted in March because of COVID-19, and while in-person activities shifted to a virtual platform, we wanted to know whether participants were maintaining the gains they had made. Families reported that their loved ones improved their self-determination and advocacy (e.g., problem-solving abilities) and
communication skills (e.g., awareness of personal boundaries, using social conventions), among other areas.

We're partnering with regional universities and county specialists in Exceptional Student Education on a peer-review process. The peer-review process will ensure we optimize instructional activities with proven, evidence-based best-practices.

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?

    We serve individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Our participants range in age from 14 to 70s.

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

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

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

    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?

    We assess participants, based on their feedback, input from their family and feedback from our instructors. We use this information to create individual plans so participants can focus on the development of eight life skills. We assess their progress toward their goals throughout the year. We then meet with parents/caregivers to review their child's progress toward their goals.

  • 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 hasn't shifted power, per se. It has helped us adapt our programs to better serve our participants. For example, one participant suggested gender-specific instruction on personal hygiene, so we offered classes specifically for male and female participants.

  • 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 demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), 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,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

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

Financials

STARability Foundation
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Operations

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

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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STARability Foundation

Board of directors
as of 10/7/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Lisa Kahn

Lisa Kahn Designs

Term: 2019 - 2021

Carrie Cooney

Community Volunteer

Domenic Lucarelli

Lucarelli Law

Ken Gilman

Retired

Kelly Moynihan

Retired Exxon/Mobil Executive

Jerry Schoenfeld

FGCU Lutgert School of Business

Eric Cosentino

FineMark National Bank & Trust

Laura Georgelos

Coldwell Banker

Jeff Maconaghy

Encompass Risk Solutions

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 ? Yes
  • 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? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 04/26/2021

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

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/13/2020

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

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.