2021: Year In Review

Emerge: A Beacon of Hope

a message from our ceo, Deanna whittle

Like many of you, my perspective on 2021 blends with memories of 2020, a year that brought extraordinary change to every aspect of our lives. While Emerge navigated through a difficult year in 2020, we continued to feel the effects of the pandemic into 2021.

During the past year, we successfully managed our operations amidst an ever-changing public health landscape. From enhanced cleaning and disinfecting procedures campus-wide, to re-configuring meeting spaces to ensure social distancing, we have adapted well to “our new normal” in many ways.

Demand for our services remained high in 2021. Even though our team faced a myriad of day-to-day uncertainties, we maintained our focus on meeting the community’s needs. I’m proud to report that we served more clients in 2021 than in 2020.

Time and again this last year, I’ve been touched by the deep compassion and dedication shown by our therapists and teachers. Our work is truly a calling, and our mission-driven team continuously inspires me.

I hope you will take a moment to review highlights of our work in 2021. Support from the community drives our ability to empower children with autism and individuals with communications challenges. Thank you for being a part of Emerge’s mission.  

Sincerely,

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. Support from the community facilitates broad access to our services, expands our impact and enriches our unique learning environment.

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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.

2021 Center accomplishments

The Center implemented a robust workforce development plan to recruit, train and retain top-notch therapists.

We deepened our commitment to serving families with limited financial resources.

We remained dedicated to advancing understanding of early intervention autism therapy.

We strengthened our Human Resources capacity to better address evolving staffing needs.

2021 center highlights

Despite frequent disruptions to our operations due to COVID-19, our team remained dedicated to serving the families who rely on us every day. Our team rallied together and overcame challenges in order to meet our mission.

Center Impact and Reach

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clients served in 2020
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Occupational Therapy

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Speech Therapy

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Applied Behavior Analysis Therapy

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Family Testimonial

Boote

“Emerge has been a blessing from day one!  We would like to thank Laura and Madeline for believing in our son, Boote, and helping him to grow in speech and OT. Our family would also like to thank everyone else who has helped Boote in OT along the way too! We are forever grateful!” – Kellea LeBlanc, an Emerge parent

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Now in its fourth year as the only tuition-free public charter school in Louisiana for students with autism, The Emerge School continues to be an invaluable resource for families in our community. 

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.

2021 School accomplishments

Through ongoing dialogue with the East Baton Rouge Parish School System and a partnership with New Schools for Baton Rouge, we initiated efforts to secure High Cost Services funding.

We formalized a Transition Program to facilitate the smooth transition of students to feeder schools in the area. Of the 48 students enrolled for the 2020-2021 year, 18 successfully transitioned to lesser restrictive education environments.

Construction of our playground was completed, offering students a designated outdoor space specially designed for them. 

Our continuing commitment to faculty professional development included a focus on technology skills, reading and phonics and Social and Emotional Learning.

2021 school hIGHLIGHTS

Partnering with the LSU School of Education, we provided opportunities for 25 LSU students to immerse themselves in our learning environment and gain direct experience in the special education field.

We grew our outdoor programming with the addition of a garden, enabling students to learn about healthy foods. 

 

With grant funding, the School not only increased its supply of iPad talkers for non-verbal children but also laptops for students to work on keyboarding, math and reading skills. 

We established a library in our Multi-Purpose Room with support from the Louisiana Resource Center for Educators. 

Family Perspective

“We definitely believe in the ‘magic’ of Emerge. Their keys unlocked the uniqueness inside our daughter that will allow her to be both resilient and independent. Evie now stands with confidence among other kids and this gift will guide her for the rest of her life. We’re grateful Evie has the tools she needs to not only walk – but run – headfirst into all that lies ahead for her.”

-John and Casey Whitworth, Emerge parents

To hear more from the Whitworth family, click here

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Our work is made possible through the support of generous donors in our community. Even in uncertain times during the pandemic, your steadfast commitment to our mission ensures our doors are open to all families and strengthens our unique collaborative care model. In 2021, we employed creative strategies to inspire and elevate support of our mission.

2021 FOUNDATION accomplishments

Our continued emphasis on digital fundraising included the launch of Project Puzzle, a community-wide raffle during Autism Awareness Month in April. With support from a Parent Fundraising Committee, we raised more than $58,000 and welcomed 372 new donors. 

During the 225GIVES day of giving, Emerge received an outpouring of generosity, raising a record $59,000 on Giving Tuesday and securing 46 new donors.

Since launching our Giving Society in 2016, the program has grown from two donors each pledging $30,000 to 53 donors whose cumulative and renewing pledges have totaled $1.4 million in general operating support. 

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Volunteer Activist luncheon, an Honorary Committee of former honorees led a highly successful fundraising effort, yielding an all-time high of $132,000. 

Funding from grants continued to accelerate the launch of new programs and provide critical operating support for the Center and School.

Despite having to postpone and, ultimately, cancel the 2021 Gala, our donors and corporate partners recognized the tremendous need and still came through with great support for Emerge.

2021 foundation highlights

New Donors

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Corporate Partners

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Individual Donors

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*Represents fundraising revenue for both The Emerge Center and The Emerge School.

Donor Perspective

“For more than sixty years, Emerge has empowered children with autism and individuals with communication challenges to reach their greatest potential. Taylor Porter is proud to partner with Emerge and I am honored to be an Emerge board member. Emerge is an incredible resource not only for our community and our city, but for the state of Louisiana as well.”

– Vicki Crochet, Partner, Taylor Porter

Thank you for all your support in 2021!

You truly helped us persevere into 2022 for the families who need us.

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