To enhance the lives of people with disabilities across Wisconsin, the Wispact Foundation awarded Legacy Grants 2021 totaling over $168,000 to 22 non-profit organizations.
“Having Wispact as a partner has been incredible; without them we wouldn’t have the means to do this extended outreach and make a difference for so many kids and families.”
— Michelle Pape, Director of Development, Islands of Brilliance
One of our grant recipients is Islands of Brilliance which was founded in 2012 by co-founders Mark and Margaret Fairbanks. Mark and Margaret’s son, Harry, was diagnosed with autism shortly before he turned three. After Harry’s diagnosis, the Fairbanks were told not to expect him to be ready for first grade, and that he would likely never go to college. Although the news was obviously disheartening, the Fairbanks were also motivated to discover ways to support Harry and others on the autism spectrum by empowering them to grow their social and emotional learning skills.
“We had our first workshop in 2012. And now, 10 years later, we’re offering both virtual and in-person options. Our goal is to help our students find independence, pursue post-secondary opportunities and become thriving members of their community. In the process, we work hard to help them feel connected and create a sense of belonging,” said Michelle Pape, Director of Development.
Now that the world is going back to in-person interactions, Islands of Brilliance hoped to serve beyond Southeastern Wisconsin. As a result, Sandbox@ was created in February of 2022, giving participants, at 12 locations around the state, the chance to learn, create and connect with other students in a safe and supportive environment through art, storytelling and STEaM-based projects.
“The grant from Wispact is making Sandbox@ possible. Wispact was the first foundation to support Sandbox@, which gave us the jumpstart we needed to make it feasible. Having Wispact as a partner has been incredible; without them we wouldn’t have the means to do this extended outreach and make a difference for so many kids and families,” Pape Concluded.