August 31, 2022

by: Emily Hastings

UCP of Greater Cleveland to receive $5 million in charitable funding to expand education access for students with disabilities

Today UCP of Greater Cleveland announced over $5 million in charitable funding has been committed to support the expansion of UCP’s LeafBridge Alternative Education Program. The program offers a highly specialized and personalized curriculum for students with significant learning, medical, behavioral, and motor needs. Raised in collaboration with Soar High Together, a local nonprofit serving vulnerable communities, this $5 million is the largest amount generated in a single round of fundraising in the 72-year history of UCP of Greater Cleveland. The funds, to be fully disbursed by 2026, will help expand access, effectiveness, and sustainability of education for students, ages 3 to 22 years, throughout the Northeast Ohio region.

“Expansion of the program is critical to providing access to services for children and young adults with disabilities who currently have unmet educational and developmental needs. These are students who are not able to learn in a typical educational environment, or must gain the necessary skills to do so,” said Beth Lucas, President and CEO of UCP of Greater Cleveland. “The funding will ensure the program is well-equipped to accept new students, while enhancing our ability to provide a meaningful learning experience.”

“Through our professional and personal relationship with UCP, we truly believe they have a best in class program,” said Lodi Main, Executive Director of Soar High Together. “The staff, curriculum, and specialized equipment provide an optimal environment for students with complex disabilities. It’s been truly astonishing to witness the intellectual, physical, and emotional growth of the students.”

Mrs. Main’s granddaughter is one of 14 students currently enrolled in UCP’s LeafBridge Alternative Education Program. The program offers a unique transdisciplinary approach whereby highly specialized therapists and intervention specialists plan instruction together to address complex needs that might otherwise be unmet by a student’s local school district. The program also offers consultative services to school districts and families, for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) or Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE).

“We strive to work together with students, their families, and the school districts to determine the services and environment that is best suited to each individual’s needs. Whether that be a traditional classroom or alternate placement, our ultimate goal is to advance the student’s independence and inclusion in the community,” said Lucas. “We know there are hundreds of students in the region who have the potential to benefit from our program, yet we have not had the capacity to expand. Now, with the unprecedented funding raised with Soar High Together, we are able to proactively engage with the right people to ensure each student has full access to a curriculum that best serves them.”

“While we’re immensely proud of the charitable funding generated to date, we realize there’s much more to be done to adequately support education services for students with disabilities,” said Main. “It’s our hope that the success of our initial fundraising will inspire others to contribute, where they are able.”


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