The Madonna School will start construction next month on a new wing for a program that teaches life skills and provides employment services to young adults with intellectual and developmental challenges.
The project got a boost from a $150,000 grant pledge from the Peter Kiewit Foundation. The challenge grant will require the school to raise an additional $100,000 for construction, said Jay Dunlap, the school's president.
Madonna, a faith-based school for special-needs students, already has received a $250,000 gift from donors who wish to remain anonymous and a $20,000 grant from the Nebraska Knights of Columbus Intellectual Disabilities Foundation.
Archbishop George J. Lucas has approved the project and pledged continued financial support for the school and the life skills transition program.
While raising the $100,000 match is the first goal, the school ultimately seeks to raise a total of $200,000 to complete a second phase of construction scheduled for the summer of 2014.
That phase would include an addition with a sound-proofed classroom for music therapy and a new speech pathology room.
The new wing for the life skills transition program will provide a permanent home for the program, which currently is housed in a portable classroom.
The permanent space also will allow the school to expand the program, which just wrapped up its fifth year, from its current limit of 15 students to 20 or more students.
Not only does the program place students in jobs in the community, but also it follows them over the long term to make sure they're succeeding in their jobs, that they're being treated well and that the jobs are a good fit, Dunlap said.
“It is exciting to be part of expanding our facilities,” he said. “It all happens because the community is so supportive.”