2020: Year In Review
Our world has changed.
Our mission has not.
a message from our ceo, Deanna whittle
While 2020 was a year like no other, your support has empowered Emerge to continue building opportunity for children with autism and communication challenges in our community. You’ve made Emerge a resilient, nimble organization with resources strengthening us to respond to the pandemic.
Because of you, we adapted quickly to our families’ needs during a uniquely difficult year. After a prolonged closure in the spring, we have been focused on ramping our services back up at both The Emerge Center and The Emerge School while ensuring the safety and health of our clients and team.
I’m extremely proud of the Emerge team’s dedication to our mission during these unprecedented times. We know our work has a life-changing impact and hundreds of children and families rely on us every day. Our therapists and teachers have shown a deep resolve, despite ever-evolving circumstances.
All members of our team are wearing masks or face shields. We’re also limiting external visitors and requiring all children be dropped off and picked up through a carpool line. To ensure social distancing, we’ve re-configured meeting spaces within our facility to be used for therapy.
I hope you will take a moment to review the Emerge highlights that follow from this special year. From celebrating our 60th Anniversary virtually, to working to serve all families who need us, your support has made our continued work possible. Together with you, we have persevered through a challenging year.
Deanna Whittle, CEO, The Emerge Center
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Commitment to our mission:
Empowering children with autism and individuals with communication challenges to achieve independence through an interdisciplinary therapy program within an innovative educational model.
Children with autism and communication challenges have the best chance of success when therapy begins early. The cornerstone of Emerge’s work is an early intervention model that carefully addresses multiple issues simultaneously. Our streamlined approach sets Emerge apart and allows families to see better results and experience far less stress.
Increased staff to shorten wait times for services and further develop our workforce’s expertise
Re-purposed and expanded workspaces to accommodate an increase in clients while social distancing
Built out operational
capacity and streamlined work processes
Advanced our role as a regional leader in the field of autism therapy
the emerge center highlights
In 2020, the prevalence of autism grew to 1 in 54 children and the demand for our services continued to grow. Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we did not waiver from our mission to serve children and families in need of our services.
Despite a prolonged closure in the spring, we were still able to increase the number of children and families served from 2019. This is a testament to the dedication of our team who deepened their commitment to helping families access our services – and access them safely.
Group Speech Therapy
Individual Speech Therapy
Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy
Spearheaded the launch of telehealth during our spring closure. By offering our services virtually, our clients were able to continue accessing critical therapy support during a difficult time.
Began offering hearing evaluations for veterans through contracts with Logistics Health and Veterans Evaluation Services. Added curbside hearing aid cleaning and checks to continue meeting our clients’ needs safely.
“We have tried photos with Santa every year, and this was the best one since she was an infant. We are always nervous with her around crowds, but she went into this photo session yesterday, got her temperature checked, stood in line with about 10 other families and kids, sat on the bench for Santa photos, made great eye contact, and smiled for multiple pictures!
She’s gained so many valuable experiences since starting at The Emerge Center. It’s starting to show up every day and, as her dad, it’s my job to not rush it, but instead just be patient and celebrate the victories.”
The Emerge School is the first and only tuition-free public charter school in Louisiana, and one of only a handful nationwide, exclusively designed for children with autism. Students receive Speech, Occupational and ABA therapies combined with special education services. This integrated approach continues Emerge’s renown “wrap-around” model of care and empowers students on their path towards independence.
Created distance learning opportunities for our students during the state-wide school closure. Our teachers distributed daily lesson packets via email and held virtual office hours to answer questions and provide support to parents.
Welcomed Linda Brown as the School’s new Executive Director, added two additional teachers, two assistant teachers and an Alternative Physical Education (APE) teacher to our faculty.
Our faculty participated in weekly professional development sessions, enabling them to sharpen their skills and expertise.
Thanks to a very generous donor, a dedicated playground for the School became a reality.
the emerge school highlights
The Emerge School is a 7,000-square-foot facility that includes six classrooms, a dedicated space for ABA therapy, a multipurpose room for lunch, Occupational Therapy and Adaptive Physical Education (APE), as well as two offices.
“Our son began receiving Speech Therapy three times a week at The Emerge Center in 2017. One month later, he started Occupational Therapy and two months later, Applied Behavior Analysis was added to his therapy plan.
It has been three years since we began fighting for Adan to be given a chance at a future with autism. We were finally at ease knowing our son will be given every opportunity to be successful upon his acceptance to The Emerge School.
We only dream of seeing our children reach their fullest potential, and we know this dream can come true with the educational instruction and support services provided at Emerge.”
In 2020, support from friends like you strengthened us as we adapted our operations to the ever-changing path of the pandemic. As the year unfolded, we responded by significantly shifting our fundraising strategy. Even though we increasingly employed virtual and digital approaches, we were amazed by how all of you stepped up to champion Emerge. From giving to our Emergency COVID-19 Fund, to participating in our 60th Anniversary and Gala virtual celebration, to supporting the debut of 225 GIVES on Giving Tuesday, you all stood with us and made us stronger. We could not be more thankful.
Former staff and alums shared their stories of the impact of Emerge’s work and supporters showed their commitment to our mission during Emerge Fest, our two-day 60th Anniversary and Gala virtual celebration.
Emerge’s multi-year Giving Society program remained strong, with both existing and new donors providing sustained support for our mission. Four new Giving Society donors joined in 2020, bringing our total count to 40.
The Center and School received a total of 11 grants for emergency operating support from local and regional foundations.
During the 225 GIVES community-wide day of giving, Emerge received an outpouring of generosity, with an increase of $28,000 in donations from Giving Tuesday in 2019 and the addition of 35 new donors.
With the help of crowd funders representing our staff and Emerge families, we launched our first peer-to-peer fundraising program. Through this year-end campaign, 113 new donors became partners in our mission.
“My granddaughter attended The Emerge Center for a little over a year for speech therapy. Each week, she looked forward to going to therapy. During the time she was there, many knew her by name even though they were not her therapist.
The Emerge Center provided a loving, caring environment for her therapy and I am pleased to say she ‘graduated’ as she says this past September. We support Emerge because we know there are many families in Baton Rouge who need the assistance. “
-Mary Margaret’s grandmother
Thank you for all your support in 2020!
You truly helped us persevere into 2021 for the families who need us.
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