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Gateway to the Future

Gateway to the Future

The William G. & Marie Selby Foundation opens doors to opportunity for Academy members.

The pandemic underscored a fact that has been true for quite some time: technology is no longer a luxury, but rather, an essential component in leading a productive and connected life. Unfortunately, access to technology for those impacted by mental illness is often scarce, leaving many feeling cut off or left behind.

As such, we are elated to announce that our Gateway to the Future grant has been awarded by our longtime supporters at the William G. & Marie Selby Foundation. Many might remember that the Selby Foundation was instrumental in funding the creation of our state-of-the-art instructional kitchen. If you have dined with us, you know the quality of our culinary program, in large part thanks to the Selby Foundation. This time, they have awarded us $100,000 to implement cutting edge technology and further our mission to provide industry-standard technical training to our members. The total cost for this initiative is $200,000. The additional $100,000 was awarded by the Florida State legislature. A special thanks to State Senator Joe Gruters and State Representative Randall Maggard who sponsored our funding request, and Governor Ron DeSantis who signed the new state budget.

The Selby Foundation’s support of our Gateway to the Future initiative is a true expression of their mission, “to look beyond and enable change.” This capital investment will take our mission to the next level and impact all aspects of our programming. Every member, and every team, will have opportunities to train in the use of tablets, computers, smartphones, Smartboards and more. Software purchases will include Adobe and Microsoft products, Office 365 and a new Voice Over Internet Protocol phone system.

The best tools are useless without an effective training model that addresses the cognitive challenges that often coincide with mental illness. Our project-based approach allows members to participate at their own pace, reducing the pressure and intimidation that is prevalent in traditional training models. Those who learn faster can assume leadership roles, serving as mentors to their peers.

Our goal is to prepare our members for skilled employment with a focus on the ability to work remotely. This grant will take us to the next level, providing our members a gateway into modern culture and gainful, fulfilling employment. We are grateful to the Selby Foundation for recognizing this vital need, and responding so generously.