Children enrolled in the St. David Center's early childhood program on Tuesday celebrated the news that the Minnetonka-based non-profit has been awarded $3.75 million in bond funding to expand and renovate its current campus. Senator Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka, who helped lead those legislative efforts, attended the celebration.
The money, approved last week in the state bonding bill, brings St. David's oh so close to its goal of raising $12.2 million to expand it current facility and offer more services to children with special needs such as autism.
The renovation project includes redesigned and expanded autism day treatment classrooms, on-site therapy rooms, a children's mental health clinic and improved early childhood education environments. The expansion will add about 6,000 square feet of space to the Center, which is housed in a former Hopkins school building.
"There is a great need across the community for an organization like St. David's Center, which has a multi-disciplinary approach to working with kids," said Julie Sjordal, executive director.
Just how great?
Sjordal ticks off the statistics: 1 in 68 children has autism; one in six has some kind of developmental delay, one in five has some kind of mental illness yet only about 20 percent are able to access services.
St. David's kicked off their fundraising efforts in 2012 and had amassed $7.4 million before the bond funding was awarded by lawmakers and signed into law today by Gov. Mark Dayton. That total included a $2.2 million grant from the Peter J. King Foundation.
“Throughout this Legislative session, we were able to talk with many senators and representatives during tours of our facility and at the Capitol. Time and time again, I was impressed by the value our leaders place on investing in better outcomes for children," Sjordal said. "They understand that early intervention can reap great rewards, preparing Minnesota children to be successful in school and in life.”