Texas Autism Academy found support from an unexpected source this year when a group of people in The Woodlands area business community gathered to brainstorm a way to help the school start a scholarship fund.
The private school opened on Pruitt Road in September 2017, and it has grown from an enrollment of two to 14 students in that time. Director Cary Leakey Mollinedo said it plans to continue to expand—serving ages 4-12 this year, but age 4-14 next year, until it reaches its goal of students up to age 22. As a small, private school geared toward students with autism, it aims to provide resources and education for students who are underserved by their local public school systems, Mollinedo said.
Tuition for the private school is $21,000 annually, which can create challenges for families in need who want to enroll but lack the funds, she said.
“We have a lot of families that contact us that can’t afford us,” she said. “Tuition is a big piece of helping with operational costs, but for families in need we’re just not there yet.”
Linda Daves, Patti St. Louis and Susan Mack are among the half-dozen or so volunteers who have gathered together under the name Collective Hearts for Children to launch a fundraising campaign for the school. Although the members are passionate about the cause, they do not have children in the school—just a desire to do something that will help children in the community.
“If we can give one child an opportunity to attend the school, that’s our goal. That’s been the focus from the very beginning,” Mack said.
The group’s first event is planned for April 30 at Pallotta’s Italian Grill in Oak Ridge North, consisting of a food and wine evening with items for auction. The group is also collecting donations from those who wish to help out.
Daves said the fundraiser could become an annual event.
“We would like to do it every year,” she said.
Texas Autism Academy
1009 Pruitt Road, The Woodlands