Little Friends launches $10 million capital campaign

  • Little Friends, a disability services agency, recently relocated from its legacy campus in Naperville to a new facility in Warrenville where it has room to grow.

    Little Friends, a disability services agency, recently relocated from its legacy campus in Naperville to a new facility in Warrenville where it has room to grow. Courtesy of Little Friends

  • About 57,000 of 74,000 square feet have been renovated at the new Little Friends facility in Warrenville. A $10 million capital campaign could help cover renovation costs for the remaining space.

    About 57,000 of 74,000 square feet have been renovated at the new Little Friends facility in Warrenville. A $10 million capital campaign could help cover renovation costs for the remaining space. Courtesy of Little Friends

 
 
Updated 4/16/2021 4:00 PM

Settled into a new Warrenville home with initial renovations complete, Little Friends leaders are leaning into the opportunity for growth.

The development services agency has launched a $10 million "Building Futures" capital campaign to improve its facilities, elevate programming, build an endowment and support expanded student enrollment for years to come, President and CEO Mike Briggs said.

 

The need is on the rise for educational, residential, vocational and other community-based programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, he said. The number of autism diagnoses, for example, has increased in recent years to one in 54 children, with about 3.5 million people nationwide.

"As we look at what's going on in the world based upon the kinds of services we provide, the things we do aren't going away," Briggs said. "In fact, the demand, especially for helping children who are on the spectrum of autism, is growing."

To better serve its clients, Little Friends relocated in December from its legacy campus in Naperville's historic district to a new 74,000-square-foot Warrenville facility less than three miles away. At 27555 Diehl Road, the high-quality, ADA-compliant building allows all school programs to operate under one roof with room for future expansion, Briggs said.

About 57,000 square feet have been renovated so far, he said, providing space for roughly 180 students. The capital campaign could help the agency build out the remaining classrooms and service areas, which would increase capacity to more than 300.

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A portion of the funding also could go toward upgrading various homes owned by Little Friends to offer adults with residential support, Briggs said.

Investing in educational technology, building a vocational exploration lab, increasing telehealth services for the autism center and expanding respite family services programs are among the other goals of the fundraising efforts, agency leaders said, as is creating a more substantial endowment to ensure the nonprofit's future is secure.

"This campaign will provide Little Friends with the resources necessary for those we serve, their families and our community in a way that we were previously unable to do," said Little Friends board Vice President Ray Kinney, who also serves as the "Building Futures" co-chairman. "We hope to not only raise the necessary dollars to support our mission but also raise the awareness of how Little Friends provides much-needed services to our community."

The campaign has raised $4.2 million so far, thanks to a $3 million state grant and other community contributions, Briggs said. Nonprofit leaders hope to hit their $10 million goal in the next three to five years.

"We've appreciative of how supportive the community has been for Little Friends over the years," Briggs said. "That's something we don't take for granted."

To donate to the campaign, visit littlefriendsinc.networkforgood.com/projects/123477-building-futures.

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