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Building Futures Campaign

Building Futures Campaign

The need for services for children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities is astounding, and the current demand for these services outstrips the supply. To continue providing the best possible care to the children and adults we serve, we face the need to modernize Little Friends facilities and increase our capital and programmatic capacity to enhance our quality of care.

In response to these needs, we now launch our first ever campaign “Building Futures”, a $10 million comprehensive project to improve our facilities, increase programmatic capacity, and build an endowment that will provide a secure future for the people we serve.

Little Friends

Increasing Need

  • 1 in 36 children is diagnosed with Autism, which is becoming one of the leading childhood development disorders in the United States (CDC 2023). Autism affects approximately 3.5 million Americans
  • 18,000 adults in Illinois have requested state support, and receive no help. Many of them now outliving their family caregivers
  • 42.8 million people in the US have some type of disability.  This includes autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • $34.1 billion is spent on special education services in the US for millions of children ages 3-12 who qualify for individualized instruction and services to support learning in the classroom

A Better Future

The capstone of this exciting endeavor is the  much anticipated move to a new campus. This new facility allows Little Friends school programs to operate under one roof, and out of a high-quality facility that is not only ADA compliant, but will be built out to support program innovations, essential technology, and deepen the caregiving abilities of our staff and help them share their expertise with the caregivers of tomorrow.

With this increasing need for our services, now is the time to bring Little Friends facilities and programming to the next level, to not only enhance the services already provided, but to serve more individuals. We are committed to making a better future for those we care for.

Little Friends new state-of-the-industry campus provides a modern environment befitting of the population we serve, and further supports our talented teachers and staff as they help those we serve make extraordinary gains every day  The 73,828-square-foot space includes 60,000 square feet of instructional and therapeutic space, room for up to 33 classrooms, 280 parking spots and space for bus drop-off and a 20,000 square foot inclusive playground.

This is the first campaign of its kind in the agency’s 55-year history. The Capital portion of this campaign seeks to raise $4,000,000 to fund the acquisition and renovation of the new Little Friends main campus. We will also update and improve our residential homes. 

  • School Programs – Creation of and expansion of classrooms equipped with furniture, modern instructional technology, OT gym and other specialty therapeutic areas.
  • Inclusive Playground – Construction of a state-of-the-art inclusive playground designed to support the full range of physical and social abilities.
  • Center for Autism – Investment in modern therapy rooms, designated training space, and therapeutic equipment.
  • Residential Services – Facility improvements and technology enhancements at our 39 homes, 25 of which we own. Purchase of additional properties to serve more individuals.
  • Community Day Services – Renovation of existing facility with creation of vocational experiential learning environment and associated technology.

Recognized as a leader for the services we provide, Little Friends uses innovative, accredited programs to provide highly individualized care for all we serve and their families. It is our goal to provide best-in-class, comprehensive services to not only those we serve, but to the community at large.

Little Friends School Programs have been recognized by NASET (National Association of Special Education Teachers), an honor presented to private special education schools that demonstrate exceptional dedication and achievement in the field of special education. Little Friends as an organization has been accredited by the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL), the highest distinction one could receive, reflecting the quality programming

As we look to accommodate the growing need for our services, Little Friends is committed to continued improved programming totaling $3,000,000 across all areas of the agency.

  • School Programs – Curriculum and technology to enhance learning including a vocational exploration lab, community experiential learning, and expanded programming for art, music, and sports.
  • Center for Autism – Additional therapists and providers to deliver diagnostic and therapeutic services to more children and their families. Expansion of telehealth services.
  • Residential Services – Costs for community resources and engagement opportunities. Technology to allow for telehealth delivery.
  • Community Day Program – Elevate and increase job training opportunities, community integration programs. Transit vans for community outings, ColorBurst Screen printing improvements.
  • Respite Family Services – Addition of activities, expansion of program to more geographic locations to serve more families.
Little Friends - Center for Autism

Through this campaign, we will raise $3,000,000 to build a solid endowment for Little Friends. This will greatly enhance our ability to address unanticipated costs, take on additional operating expenses, and seize new opportunities for growth. Little Friends will be able to invest in research opportunities in the areas of autism and developmental disabilities, add technological enhancements to support our programs, and upgrade our facilities to best serve our families in the future.

With these funds, our intention is to also reinvest each year in staff professional development ensuring that the education and training our employees receive allows us to remain a leader in the field and develop into a premier human service agency.

The new Little Friends campus features several spaces that are available for recognition and naming opportunities. Contact us to discuss additional naming opportunities at our new Little Friends facility.

  • Center for Autism
  • Inclusive Playground
  • Gym & Training Rooms
  • Specialty Classrooms
  • Conference Rooms
  • Monetary Donation/Pledge The easiest and most direct way to support Little Friends is a monetary donation.
  • Gifts of Stock Avoid capital gains through a gift of highly appreciated stock while taking a full value deduction on your tax returns.
  • Matching Gifts Many corporate employers will match their employees’ gift to a 501(c)(3) non-profit. If your company has such a program, please request their matching gift form and send the completed form to us. We will take care of the rest.
  • Planned Giving Making a planned gift in support of our Building Futures Campaign is a wonderful way to leave a meaningful legacy that will provide security for countless children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Please contact us to discuss your interest.

Looking Forward

For over five decades, Little Friends has been at the forefront of ensuring those in our community with autism or other developmental disabilities lead fulfilling lives. As we look forward to the next 50 years, we want to continue the legacy left by our supporters. We intend to create and house our programs in quality facilities so that the children and adults we serve can receive the very best programming, in the very best place.

We will continue to expand existing programming to serve more people through diagnostics, therapies, education, vocational, and residential services—the expanding need for this is more than evident. None of this will be possible without the continued partnership of our Board of Directors, families of those we serve, donors, and community partners. We are thankful for the work already accomplished and look forward to realizing the vision laid out before us.

For More Information

Please contact our Agency Advancement Team:

  • Jason Altenbern
    VP of Agency Advacement
    Email Jason
  • Nicole Zienty
    Director of Donor Relations
    Email Nicole
boy on sports field

I love my school

“I love my school because I have great teachers and friends.”

person standing near artwork

I like to socialize and laugh

“I like to socialize and laugh with my friends every day.”

happy person smiling

Little Friends staff are remarkable people

“As parents, we feel truly thankful and blessed for the opportunities that Little Friends has provided and offered.  Little Friends staff are remarkable people who are dedicated to what they do and those they serve.”

girl on swing set smiling

Good times with friends and people who care

“For my son, this has not been just a school but the place where he spends good times with friends and people who care about him.”

person reading

How grateful we are

“How grateful we are to all the angels who work with our son at Little Friends. This is his home.”

smiling boy

Krejci means so much to Us

“Krejci means so much to us because it’s been the one place that has truly helped my child excel and grow; the place that he is not judged or made to feel different but accepted. I am so appreciative of the patience, care, and hard work from all the Krejci staff.”

child sitting on bench

Positive Impact on our Family

“Respite has had such a positive impact on our family. We love that our kids can socialize with other families that share our similarities. It gives me comfort knowing he is in good hands”