Sensory Health Transforms Lives

aka STAR Institute for Sensory Processing   |   Centennial, CO   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 27-4386097


STAR Institute's mission is to impact quality of life by developing and promoting best practices for sensory health and wellness through treatment, education, and research. STAR Institute's vision of sensory health and wellness for the state, the nation, and the world is being accomplished through our core values of: -Promoting occupation, participation, engagement, function, and psychological well-being -Elevating awareness and knowledge about the transformative power of the sensory domain -Building and strengthening relationships -Empowering families -Removing barriers to participation -Embracing and celebrating diversity -Advocacy for true inclusion -Occupational justice for all

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Virginia Spielmann

Main address

6911 South Yosemite Street

Centennial, CO 80112 USA

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Formerly known as

Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation

STAR Center

STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder



Subject area info



Population served info

Children and youth



Young adults


Show more populations served

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (E05)

IRS subsection

501(c)(3) Public Charity

IRS filing requirement

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

Tax forms



Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Every event that takes place in our lives has a sensory component. We process and integrate sensation at a neurological level all the time, every day, from birth and throughout the lifespan. When sensory processing is disordered or dysfunctional it can cause/contribute to developmental delay, challenges with social communication, difficulties at home and at school, disrupted attachment , mental illness and other challenges. Sensory processing is poorly understand and often represented incorrectly. A better understanding of the development and mechanisms of sensory processing will improve outcomes in healthcare, education and rehabilitation throughout the lifespan.

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?

Occupational Therapy for Children

The goal of occupational therapy for children with disordered sensory processing is to support development of healthy sensory processing, educate the child and the family and build healthy coping strategies for wellness and success.
Occupational Therapy can help children develop capacity to accurately detect, regulate, and interpret sensations, and execute appropriate motor and behavioral responses to sensations. This builds psychological well-being, facilitates participation and enables children to perform everyday activities in a functional manner.

For children, the focus is on play: playing with parents, playing with siblings and playing with friends, enjoying success in school and completing daily routines such as eating, dressing, sleeping with satisfaction, and enjoying a healthy fulfilling family life. Parents are coached to work through the natural ups and downs of life with their child so they can live more joyfully together.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Feeding Therapy at SOS Feeding Solutions at STAR Institute is referred to as coming to “Food School.” The Feeding Therapists are Food School Teachers and our job is to help infants and children learn how to eat better. But it is not just children who are in Food School. Parents in our program are an active part of every Food School Meal/Session.

The SOS Approach to Feeding is a Play-Based program that teaches children to eat at a pace that respects their readiness to progress through learning the 32 different steps involved in the task of eating. We teach the children the skills they need in order to eat a wide variety of food types and textures using the natural, social reinforcement of playing with the food and interacting with adults.

For infants and toddlers, the SOS Approach to Feeding also uses developmental strategies and social engagement with parents to help the baby eat and grow better. The Food School offers Individual, Group, and Infant Therapies.

Our Clinic Director, Dr. Kay Toomey, is recognized around the world as one of the leading experts in understanding and treating infants and children with feeding and eating difficulties.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The speech and language pathologists at STAR Institute provide services to help children communicate. We offer consultations, comprehensive evaluations and individual therapy services. Our speech pathologists believe in using play-based, natural interactions to address a variety of issues.

They are trained to integrate a sensory-based approach to help children with SPD build the foundations needed to develop engagement and attention on which to build and expand communication skills.

Developing communication skills is one of the most important elements to socializing and creating valuable relationships. Our goal is to help children to become successful communicators and independent language learners by tailoring our programs specific to each child's needs.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Young adults

Using short-term, solution-focused methods, we help family members identify and alleviate problems as needed and desired. Clients leave with enhanced skills and strategies to independently address current and future family challenges. One focus and expertise of our social worker is advocacy related to school issues.

Our Parent Coaching program offers individual coaching for parents, grandparents, nannies or whoever is responsible for the child’s care. We find that parents often benefit from short-term coaching around specific behavioral issues.

Other domains for family coaching and counseling include:
- Managing positive and negative behaviors in individuals with sensory challenges
- Balancing positive interactions between children with sensory issues and their caregivers
- Promoting well-being when “difficult” behaviors are exhibited

Coaching and/or counseling services are usually short term (1 to 20 sessions) and may be provided to children, couples, individual adults or families as a whole.

Population(s) Served

A growing body of scientific research suggests that the human brain remains capable of change and adaptation at any age. What this means for adults and older children with SPD is that they, too, can benefit from intervention for their sensory challenges.

Effective services for adults and older adolescents include direct therapy, home programs, education, and/or accommodations. Many adults do well with evaluation and consultation for treatment. We do not put adults into the same equipment we use with children, but we provide the consultation they need to treat themselves. Often we can prepare a home program using some equipment such as Interactive Metronome at home, Integrated Listening Systems at home, proprioceptive activities (resistive weight bearing) and other activities designed to raise the adult’s threshold to sensation and normalize his/her reactions.

In direct treatment, therapy improves sensory processing and decreases sensory symptoms. Specific sensory inputs such as tactile stimulation, movement, auditory input, and/or other sensory experiences are utilized to normalize the client’s specific symptoms.

Adults who have never before experienced heights, touch, or movement with comfort can become much more successful and happy during those activities.

Since we opened the STAR Institute’s Adolescent and Adult Program, we have seen a number of adults with subtle autism spectrum disorders, who were never appropriately diagnosed or treated as children. These individuals have lived life as best they could, but never felt “normal.” They have done their best and in some ways have been able to achieve success professionally.

Population(s) Served

STAR Institute provides clinicians with a unique opportunity to receive training in assessment and intervention for Sensory Processing Disorder during intensive, one-week programs at the STAR Institute in Denver, Colorado. Level 1 Intensive Mentorships include a combination of didactic lecture sessions by researchers at STAR Institute and mentored clinical experiences.

Population(s) Served

STAR Institute provides clinicians with a unique opportunity to receive training in assessment and intervention for Sensory Processing Disorder during intensive, one-week programs at the STAR Institute in Denver, Colorado.

STAR Institute provides clinicians with a unique opportunity to receive training in assessment and intervention for Sensory Processing Disorder during intensive, one-week programs at the STAR Institute in Denver, Colorado. Level 2 Intensive Mentorships provide participants with the opportunity to apply knowledge from the Level 1 Intensive Mentorship by treating STAR Institute clients and participate in active mentoring from the STAR Institute faculty.

Population(s) Served

SPD University has the latest online courses on Sensory Processing Disorder. SPDU offers a rich set of e-learning courses for professionals and parents that is accessible 24/7. Over 70 online courses are currently available.

Population(s) Served

This is a 2-3 day symposium featuring the most recent SPD information, research and strategies in a different U.S. location each year. In 2017, the symposium will be held in Denver on October 6 & 7, highlighting the research accomplishments of the SPD Scientific Workgroup and strategy presentations by clinical experts in the field.

Population(s) Served

The STAR Institute Research Center is committed to enhancing the quality of life for children and adults with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and their families by conducting and collaborating in rigorous research into the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of SPD.

Population(s) Served

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 participants attending course/session/workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


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.

To improve quality of life across the lifespan by promoting
sensory health and wellness.
• Generating research that helps us understand sensory processing and
attributes of effective, evidence-based intervention,
• treatment that pioneers and provides best-practice interventions throughout
the lifespan, and
• education that shares what we know with practitioners, educators, advocates
and parents.

Developing and delivering the most up to date information on research and treatment to
professionals, families and individuals on healthy and disordered sensory processing.

Conducting, and collaborating in, rigorous research into sensory processing function and
dysfunction, with the overarching goal of enhancing health wellness and quality of life for
children and adults and their families.
• Uniquely positioned to fulfil this mission because the clinical education and research
programs are all housed under the same umbrella organization.

Recognized as the epicenter in the field of sensory processing. Areas of focus include: early
intervention / early childhood development, feeding, attention deficit disorder, autism,
neurodevelopmental disorders, trauma, mental health, anxiety, and more. At STAR Institute,
treatment reflects the core philosophy: sensory processing, relationships and regulation are
inextricably linked and underpin health and wellness, participation and function.

In 2019 we secured our own permanent building and our staff of 35 moved into this new space which will become a state of the art treatment, research and advocacy center by January 2021.

See below for achievements in 2019.

With the addition of our building we can treat more children, hire more staff, gain greater financial stability, do more research and educate more parents and professionals around the world.

In 2019 STAR served more than 600 clients, and supported more than 400 parents, we launched a new school readiness program and worked with more local and national charities than ever before.

We have already participated in more than 60 articles, and 25 books and book chapters. We continue to research treatment effectiveness and the mechanisms of sensory processing.

In 2019 more than 150,000 people access our free online resources and more than 800 people attended web based trainings. Our annual symposium exhibited 12 posters, had 300 live attendees and 265 online views.


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31
Financial documents
2021 STAR Center Foundation 2020 STAR Center Foundation dba STAR Institute 2018 STAR Center Foundation
done  Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant. info

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 0.79 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.7 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 13% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of THE STAR CENTER FOUNDATION’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation -$3,558 -$186,804 $357,502 $550,852 -$35,815
As % of expenses -0.1% -6.2% 17.5% 25.2% -1.4%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation -$66,910 -$248,795 $271,413 $492,684 -$99,502
As % of expenses -2.2% -8.0% 12.7% 22.0% -3.8%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $2,964,095 $3,041,975 $2,335,807 $2,748,786 $2,510,427
Total revenue, % change over prior year -6.1% 2.6% -23.2% 17.7% -8.7%
Program services revenue 91.3% 85.0% 73.6% 67.7% 90.0%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 16.7% 20.5% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 8.4% 14.8% 7.9% 11.7% 9.9%
Other revenue 0.3% 0.2% 1.9% 0.1% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $2,967,647 $3,036,622 $2,044,956 $2,184,354 $2,543,684
Total expenses, % change over prior year -4.8% 2.3% -32.7% 6.8% 16.5%
Personnel 59.1% 55.6% 65.8% 63.7% 63.7%
Professional fees 10.6% 10.3% 8.1% 9.1% 8.3%
Occupancy 8.8% 15.0% 3.7% 5.2% 4.2%
Interest 0.0% 0.7% 6.3% 5.8% 5.8%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 21.5% 18.4% 16.1% 16.3% 17.9%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $3,030,999 $3,098,613 $2,131,045 $2,242,522 $2,607,371
One month of savings $247,304 $253,052 $170,413 $182,030 $211,974
Debt principal payment $6,374 $0 $77,650 $30,004 $38,282
Fixed asset additions $0 $2,925,075 $136,939 $63,189 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $3,284,677 $6,276,740 $2,516,047 $2,517,745 $2,857,627

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 1.4 1.5 2.1 2.8 3.1
Months of cash and investments 1.4 1.5 2.1 2.8 3.1
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 0.4 -2.5 -2.8 -0.1 -0.7
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $347,308 $369,978 $364,974 $513,970 $648,590
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $43,724 $2,800 $12,859 $320,019 $190,444
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $578,314 $3,477,253 $3,526,065 $3,589,254 $3,641,876
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 82.6% 14.8% 14.5% 15.9% 17.4%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 66.3% 96.4% 90.4% 78.5% 80.9%
Unrestricted net assets $176,736 -$72,059 $199,354 $692,038 $592,536
Temporarily restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $0 $192,161 $125,511 $139,090 $141,648
Total net assets $176,736 $120,102 $324,865 $831,128 $734,184

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Executive Director

Virginia Spielmann

Virginia is a well-travelled speaker, coach and educator on topics including sensory integration, DIR/Floortime, child development and infant mental health. She has conducted trainings in Kenya, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and the USA and leads workshops at international conferences. Virginia is a founder and former Clinical Director of SPOT (Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy) Interdisciplinary Children's Therapy Center in Hong Kong, where she led a large and widely respected inter-disciplinary team.

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 05/03/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Maria Tipton

Ron Blair

RENCO Properties

Ki'i Powell, PhD

CO Dept. of Human Services

Leigh Kahn

Kahn Research

Anita Bundy

Colorado State University

Maria Tipton, JD

Holly Healy, NP

Lisa Marnell, OTD, MBA

Kids Master Skills, LLC

Patty Vela

Autism Community Network

Patrick Bowman, DMD, MS

Wash Park Pediatric Dentistry

Erin Tee

Endless Films, Inc.

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? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • 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 5/3/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

Transgender Identity

No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data