iCan House History
The prevalence of autism and developmental disorders has been on a steady dramatic rise. State funding and federal support has declined, pushing the responsibility down to the community level. Few local resources existed to help families through the complexities and dilemmas of raising a child who struggles with social relationships.
As a grassroots non-profit organization, iCan House was designed to help families overcome these needs. With a solid strategic business plan, iCan House created a sustainable and replicable model that is able to be franchised. The iCan House offers programs that teach and coach youth and adults with social challenges. This type of education is lacking in our schools, churches, and other community organizations.
Recognizing the gap in the community for programs that teach and foster social development, Kim, the executive director, designed a social skills and autism/Asperger’s resource center that focuses not on the diagnosis or problem of the individual, but rather on their ability. As the parent of a young daughter with Aspergers, she was frustrated with the lack of resources and the misguided notion that such children were impaired. Thus, combining her consulting skills, healthcare background, and her inimitable capacity to give back, she designed, founded and personally funded the iCan House.
Opening in September 2008, Kim was receiving praise and accolades from parents and community members within months. Realizing quickly that the iCan House programs would also benefit many who did not have a diagnosis of ASD, she broadened her audience and scope to include anyone with social differences. The mission statement was similarly revised, and the doors opened to many more. Programs were filling up and requests came in for more offerings.
Many wanted to donate and support the hub of positivity. The iCan House continued to thrive and grow, but it became clear that in order to accept the community support, Kim needed to accelerate her business plan, which included establishing a non-profit 501(c) 3 organization. Thus in February 2009 the nonprofit iCan House Board of Directors was formed, and bylaws adopted. In April 2009, the Winston Salem Foundation agreed to be our fiscal sponsor. In June 2009, iCan House Services Inc. was established as a nonprofit. Donations began coming in, and in October 2009 iCan House Services Inc, received its first grant of $10,000 from the Women’s Fund of Winston Salem. On November 1, 2009, all operations were transferred officially from the LLC to the nonprofit organization. Within one year, iCan House was operating at capacity, and had a retention rate of 90% in their programs. The nonprofit’s FY09-10 budget was 70,000, and in one year grew to 220,000 for FY10-11.
Since opening in 2008, more than 400 people have attended iCan House programs. Today, 120 families depend on us every week to learn essential life skills and for support. At iCan House, children, teens, and adults are learning skills to perform in school and be successful on the job. No other place like iCan House exists for someone to learn these skills while belonging to a group that accepts them. The iCan House remains a leader in the community for those who have social challenges.