Melmark Receives $30 Million Endowment to Support Autism and Disability Services


BERWYN, PA, ANDOVER, MA, and CHARLOTTE, NCMelmark has received an unprecedented endowment gift of over $30 million from an anonymous donor. This historic donation, the largest in the organization’s nearly 60-year history, aims to bolster Melmark’s mission to improve the lives of individuals with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The timing of this gift is crucial as direct care service providers face a national workforce crisis. The funds will enable Melmark to maintain a highly skilled workforce and continue offering vital adult services. These programs support many individuals who require specialized care, a need that persists despite stagnant government reimbursement rates and wages for over a decade.

“Our Melmark community is elevated and invigorated by this gift at a critical juncture within the field,” said Rita M. Gardner, President and CEO of Melmark. She noted that consolidation and downsizing have reduced the number of care providers, increasing the demand for essential, around-the-clock services. “We believe that everyone deserves access to quality education, care, and support throughout their life, regardless of their abilities or challenges,” Gardner added. “This gift will ensure that future generations of individuals with profound needs are seen, respected, and supported with the highest level of services needed.”

The donation will also fund the development of the EnvisionSMART™ Institute, an initiative aimed at raising the quality of service in the field. Led by Frank L. Bird, Executive Vice President of Clinical Services, and Gardner, the Institute will focus on applied research, professional development, and training. It will use current research to refine Melmark’s practices and develop best methods for supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.

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The EnvisionSMART™ Institute is expected to become a cornerstone of Melmark’s commitment to excellence, sharing resources foundational to its Model of Program Development and Clinical Treatment. This initiative will help individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism secure the supports they need to age in place and live their best lives.

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