Each year, gift contributions from individuals and organizations help to fuel the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's mission by allowing it to expand its research, training, clinical services, and more.
Read the stories below to see how others have generously contributed to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.
McKenzie and her mom Dominique celebrate another successful semester with former Reading Clinic coordinator Caresa Young.
How Dollar General's donation helped nine-year-old McKenzie learn to read.
Grants from our corporate donors have the ability to improve the lives of multiple children in Middle Tennessee. One child who benefitted from the generosity of Dollar General is nine-year-old McKenzie. Because of the scholarship they provided, she was able to enroll in the Reading Clinic at a critical point in her learning.
The Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic provides intensive one-on-one instruction for children who are experiencing reading problems. The Special Education Teacher Training Program of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College provides student tutors for the program. These students, along with experienced classroom teachers, use research-based instructional methods that have been proven to help children acquire reading skills.
McKenzie’s mother Dominique says, “I was unclear on how to help McKenzie, and the Reading Clinic is a blessing because she is improving with each session. Without the scholarship, she would not be able to attend due to my financial situation. I love McKenzie and know that this experience has helped her self-esteem and self-worth. She has been better with asking for help and knows that she can become a leader when it comes to reading aloud.
“McKenzie and I have a better relationship when it comes to completing school assignments because she is learning leadership and coping skills at the Reading Clinic as well. McKenzie was headed down a road of giving up on reading and trying to escape her weaknesses. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the tutors, the scholarships, and the time you have given McKenzie. McKenzie got her first certificate ever for Most Improved Reader in her class. She was so excited and has shown it to everyone. This is strictly due to the Reading Clinic.”
To learn more about how the Dollar General Literacy Foundation is helping others like McKenzie, visit www.dollargeneral.com. To learn more about opportunities for you or your organization to partner with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, please contact Jan Rosemergy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (615) 322-8238.
VKC Leadership Council member Carol Henderson has been a long-term supporter of inclusive education for students with disabilities. In 1996, she and her husband endowed the Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators in memory of their son Britt. This year, Henderson has given a significant 4-year financial gift to the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program, a 2-year certificate program for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.
Through the Martin McCoy-Jespersen Discovery Grants in Positive Psychology, Martin’s parents are providing others "a way to be more like Martin" and for each to find, "in their own way, the fullness of life."
Next Steps at Vanderbilt, the first postsecondary certificate program for students with intellectual disabilities in Tennessee, received a generous gift from longtime supporter, friend, and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Leadership Council member Linda Brooks and her family.
Andrea McDermott Sanders, Vanderbilt special education alumna (M.Ed. 2006) and VKC Leadership Council member, completed her eighth Country Music Marathon in 2012 to raise funds for the Team William Scholarship Fund for students in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic. Andrea's efforts have raised more than $180,000 since 2004 to provide financial support for students with Down syndrome attending the Reading Clinic. A former reading tutor, Andrea established the scholarship in honor of William Spickard, one of her students. William's family has partnered with Andrea in raising support. In 2009, Anna Spickard, William's older sister, organized the Team William 5k,
an additional fundraising event. In 2012, they funded the Team William Discovery Grant
to advance research on Down syndrome.
Autism, like other developmental disabilities, affects not only a child but also the immediate family and extended family. Grandparents play important roles-loving caregivers, creative resource finders, dedicated advocates. And in some instances, grandparents may be able to provide gifts for research to find answers that may help create a better future for their grandchild and for other children with developmental disabilities. This is the story of the Robert E. Landreth Family.
Grants from our corporate donors have the ability to improve the lives of children with disabilities and families in Tennessee. We would like to express our gratitude to the Nashville Predators Foundation for awarding the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic with a grant that allowed eight students to participate in the program on scholarship. Funding like this is essential in order to provide critical learning intervention to youth who do not have the financial means to attend the clinic. We are grateful to the Nashville Predators Foundation for the hand they lent in improving children’s lives in our community.
Robb and Mary Jane Swaney were able to apply their life passions to the support of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center mission. Robb, an architect and committed philanthropist, brought to life a specially designed, accessible playground where young children with and without disabilities can now play together. Mary Jane, an artist, supports programs that nurture budding artists with developmental disabilities.
See how one Nashville couple was able to help teach people living with developmental disabilities how to use music therapeutically, while also supporting research in human development and training for professionals in the community.