Abilities First Awarded $300,000 Grant For School Expansion From NY Economic Development Initiative

WAPPINGERS FALLS, NY – January 3, 2022 – Abilities First was recently awarded a $300,000 Empire State Development grant from the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council through the very competitive Consolidated Funding Application process.

The Abilities First School Expansion Project will add new, state-of-the-art classrooms and therapy space for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the LaGrange and New Windsor K-12 schools. Abilities First is coordinating the project with the NYS Education Department (NYSED) and the 25 Hudson Valley school districts the $1.5 million project supports. Additional classrooms will reduce the waitlist, offering students access to an exceptional education closer to home, alleviating long bus rides to another county to attend school, and offering placement to students receiving home instruction due to a lack of seats. Parents will also have better access to school resources. The project will create 40 new jobs for special education teachers, teacher’s aides, and therapists.

The $300,000 award will fund construction to retrofit unused space at both locations, upgrading mechanical, electrical, HVAC, and plumbing, adding dedicated space for physical, occupational, and behavioral therapy, and furnishing new classrooms with smart boards and communications tools. The new construction will transition seamlessly from the pre-existing facility. Abilities First anticipates opening at the beginning of the school year in 2023.

“The economic toll of the pandemic has been felt in every corner of the state, which is why we must ensure that our equitable economic recovery does the same,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “This new round of funding, rooted in a bottom-up approach that partners with local leaders and utilizes unique regional strengths, will be another important tool as we work to transform communities across New York State into places where people will want to live, work and visit for generations to come.”

“Through a collaborative, bottom-up, regional approach to economic development, these projects were chosen for their innovation, impact on their communities, and potential for positive change coming out of the pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin.

“We are so pleased to be granted the funds to expand the instructional and therapeutic facilities at both of our main school sites in LaGrange and New Windsor, which will add numerous job opportunities for members of our communities,” said Abilities First President & CEO Jeffery Fox, Ph.D. “The improvements will add 28 seats in the New Windsor school, create smaller, more intimate classes in the LaGrange school, and upgrade space for therapies, arts, and other essential school functions.”

About Abilities First: Founded in 1962, Abilities First is a nonprofit organization serving the needs of those with developmental disabilities from preschool through adulthood. With more than 600 dedicated employees committed to providing educational, vocational, residential, habilitation, and family support services, Abilities First gives individuals with disabilities and their families the support to attain independence, self-determination, integration, and acceptance by others. In serving over 1,400 children and adults throughout the Hudson Valley region of New York State, Abilities First holds a long-term commitment to creating a cohesive culture of compassion, empowerment, and respect for these individuals through education, exploration, and experience. For more information, visit www.AbilitiesFirstNY.org or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/AbilitiesFirstInc.