Friendship Foundation, Education and Business Leaders Celebrate Groundbreaking for Revolutionary Friendship Campus to Serve Students with Varying Abilities

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Education and business leaders celebrate groundbreaking for cutting-edge Friendship Campus to serve students with varying abilities.

We’ve seen firsthand how capable young adults on the autism spectrum or with other intellectual or physical differences have very few options for education and employment after high school. We hope the Friendship Campus will be a model that can be duplicated across the country.

The Friendship Foundation (FF), dedicated to elevating the lives of those with varying abilities for 15+ years, celebrated its official groundbreaking on the construction site of its new Friendship Campus for intellectually and physically diverse students in Redondo Beach, California on August 10. The 3.25-acre state-of-the-art education and vocational Campus, the brainchild of the Friendship Foundation and its Founder Yossi Mintz, will revolutionize postsecondary training by serving the whole individual and working with each student to fulfill his or her potential. The Friendship Campus, The Greenberg Family/Skechers Center, will focus on talent and skill building; personal growth and development programs; social and emotional wellness; healthy lifestyle habits and physical fitness; and job training and exploration programs with corporate partnerships for work placement.

Almost 200,000 students are enrolled in special education in Los Angeles County alone and 8 in 10 Americans with disabilities are unemployed. Friendship Foundation’s new community-integrated, inclusive Campus will give individuals with physical and intellectual diversities the tools to transform the workforce and find a lifelong passion and purpose.

“This Campus groundbreaking is the culmination of years – decades really – of dreams, plans and a lot of hard work from our team and our amazing community of supporters and donors,” said Yossi, Mintz, Friendship Foundation founder and Friendship Campus executive director. “We’ve seen firsthand how capable young adults on the autism spectrum or with other intellectual or physical differences have very few options for education and employment after high school. These are smart, capable individuals who can succeed and have fulfilling careers with the right training and ongoing support. We hope the Friendship Campus will be a model that can be duplicated across the country.”

The groundbreaking event at the new site (850 S. Inglewood Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA) featured Friendship Foundation co-founders Michael Greenberg and Adam Carroll as well as Jerry Katz and Dr. Steven Keller, all instrumental in bringing this dream to fruition. Leaders in business and education as well as parents, students and the surrounding community joined to celebrate the first step of constructing this innovative new Campus designed to serve diverse students. Yossi Mintz, Friendship Foundation founder and executive director; Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers and Skechers Foundation, founding donor; Anita Bhatia of the Ramesh & Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation; Mike Kaplan Lakeshore Learning; Harris Toibb; Ted Schwatz; and Dr. Steven Keller, Superintendent of Schools at RBUSD led the formal presentations at the event, which also featured performances from Friendship Foundation participants and Redondo Beach Unified School District (RBUSD) students and volunteers. The celebration continued with a summer festival in Franklin Park with entertainment, fair food, magicians, and activities for children of all ages. The community was also introduced to the “Pathway of Inspiration” campaign, a unique opportunity to be part of the Campus.

3.25-acre Friendship Campus for Postsecondary Training and More
The innovative Campus will include a 64,000 square foot facility to develop an engaging and inviting environment for the entire community. Friendship Foundation will focus on serving the whole individual with talent and skill building; personal growth and development programs; social and emotional wellness; healthy lifestyle habits and physical fitness; job training and exploration programs. Technology, media, hospitality, retail, culinary, office, education, trades, and gardening are some of the initial vocational programs planned. A state-of-the-art studio will include training on digital media such as graphic design, coding, game design; visual arts such as painting, photography, filmmaking; craftwork such as woodwork and jewelry making; and music such as songwriting, audio production and music mixing. Culinary arts will feature a Friendship Café and Teaching Kitchen to give students hands-on learning experience for training in hospitality and culinary industry careers. The Financial Empowerment Academy will introduce life-skills financial literacy to use daily and as individuals gaining independence in society. In addition to the postsecondary vocational programs, the Campus will be home to a transition program for RBUSD and the headquarters for Friendship Foundation’s 50+ programs.

The Friendship Campus is expected to be completed in 2024 and cost $55 million. The project is being funded privately with generous donations from Founding Donor Greenberg Family/Skechers; Legacy Donors The Ramesh & Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, Harris & Linda Toibb, Mike & Rose Kaplan, Charlie & Jo Ann Kaplan; Founders Circle Donors Ted & Claudette Schwartz and Yosef & Chana Malka Gorowitz; and Visionary Donors Joe & Fay Czyzyk, Margaret & Captain Joe Lee Frank, Jon & Nicole Hirschberg, Joel E. Jacob, Dr. Miriam & Dr. Ben Landau; Yael Roth, Paul & Georgia Solomon, and Windsong Trust, among many others. To see a full list of donors, participate or learn more, please visit Friendship Campus or email CampusInfo@friendshipfoundation.com. A fact sheet on the Friendship Campus is available here.

About Friendship Foundation
The Friendship Foundation is dedicated to building an integrated, accepting and unified community for our children and young adults. It was founded 15 years ago by Yossi Mintz, Michael Greenberg, and Adam Carroll with the goal of providing neurodiverse children with those with varying abilities the same advantages as their peers to enjoy and experience life. The organization has developed programs that allow all children to play, grow, develop and thrive together. The success and growing demand from the Foundation’s existing programs have expanded the vision to include an innovative new campus centered around turning special needs into special contributions to society. Follow Friendship Foundation at https://www.instagram.com/thefriendshipfoundation/ and https://www.facebook.com/FFsouthbay/.

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