San Diego Nonprofit Offered Two-million-dollar Grant to Expand Services for People With Special Needs

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Late philanthropist’s generosity moves TERI Inc. one step closer to completing San Marcos Campus of Life

“The demand for our services is enormous. We will raise the funds needed to receive this grant. We have too many people counting on us not to. And it’s what Tom would want,” Kilmer said.

TERI Inc., a San Diego-based nonprofit serving adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families recently received the promise of a two-million-dollar grant slated to help them complete their San Marcos Campus of Life. The grant, gifted by The Tomlinson Foundation, would allow TERI to complete phase two of the 20-acre project, which broke ground in January. Phase two includes building the vocational center, restoration of the historic Merriam Home, adds 2.5 acres of organic agriculture, and site roadways. The vocational center expands opportunities for our clients, provides approximately 465 more hours per week for students to learn vs. commuting, and as a result reduces TERI’s carbon footprint.

“We’ve got some serious work to do,” explains TERI Founder and CEO, Cheryl Kilmer, noting that the grant is contingent upon TERI raising the remaining funds (about 3.6 million dollars) needed to complete phase two of the campus. “The demand for our services is enormous. We will raise the funds needed to receive this grant. We have too many people counting on us not to. And it’s what Tom would want,” Kilmer said of Thomas Tomlinson, a 20-year supporter of TERI and founder of the Tomlinson Foundation. Tom passed away in February. “He really loved the population we serve,” Kilmer said. “And he was a smart, smart, smart businessman. And extremely generous, but he only put his money towards projects that he believed were excellent investments. We’re honored that one of Tom’s last wishes was that TERI receive this grant.”

TERI currently offers 19 programs and services to over 850 clients, including specialized private education, adult day programs, vocational training, speech therapy, behavioral intervention and family respite care. TERI also runs 13 adult residential homes. All of TERI’s services have waiting lists because of the demand for services. Phase two completion will allow TERI to expand their services and opportunities for people with special needs and their families.

Though completing the California campus is TERI’s top priority, they also realize the need for their services stretches well beyond the Golden State. “We’re making our mark in Southern California for sure,” Kilmer noted. “But the demand for services is world-wide. Every time I attend a national or international conference, I am swarmed with people from all over the world asking me to come to their country and build centers modeled after TERI’s.” Helping other states and countries to provide TERI’s level of care is a top priority once the campus is finished.

The Campus of Life will one day serve as a replicable model for TERI-style community centers throughout the country and world. TERI recently hosted a Chinese delegation representing 300,000 adults with special needs as well as a group of physicians from Brazil who wish to build centers in their countries modeled after TERI’s Campus of Life.

“First things first,” Kilmer said. “Let’s finish this campus, so we can get to the business of changing the world.”

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Kenyauda Brewington
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