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Cape Coral, FL: New $5M autism high school for 200 students in next 2 yrs

Sept 13, 2023, Florida Weekly: High school for students with autism opens in Cape Coral

Family Initiative Inc. has opened Thrive Academy, a private high school for students on the autism spectrum.

Family Initiative, a nonprofit serving children on the autism spectrum and their families since 2015, recently received $5 million in state funding thanks to the efforts of local and state officials.

State Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka and State Sen. Jonathan Martin supported the bill to acquire the funding to help fill a gap in special education in Southwest Florida. This bill was passed and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to fund a world-class, scalable education model for teens and young adults on the autism spectrum.

The state funding is to acquire a school facility and further develop an integrated curriculum/therapy program to include grade appropriate classes, workforce training as well as on-site Applied Behavior Analysis and Occupational Therapy therapy.

Thrive Academy will build on the micro school Family Initiative piloted during the 2022 school year where 10 high school students on the autism spectrum were enrolled in a specialized educational, vocational, and clinical program to prove concept and collect data on student outcomes.

The newly opened Thrive Academy will enroll 50 students in this 2023-24 school year with the goal to increase enrollment to 200 within the next two years.

Additionally, as part of the school campus, Family Initiative plans to partner with Lee County to integrate one of the buildings to also serve as a special needs emergency shelter to support children and their families in the event of a natural disaster.

“Family Initiative has many people to thank including Speaker of the Florida House Paul Renner, Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, Gov. Ron DeSantis, the local legislative delegation,” said Family Initiative Co-Founder and President David Brown. “But mostly we thank the parents of our teens and young adults who fight tirelessly as warriors for the battle of acceptance and inclusion for their children on the autism spectrum.”…


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