BrightStone, a Franklin-based nonprofit dedicated to serving developmentally disabled adults, held a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 7 for its future campus on Columbia Pike.

When complete, BrightStone’s new 138-acre campus—which will be located on Columbia Pike just south of downtown Franklin—will be able to accommodate 120 students in its day program, and 80 students will be able to live on campus in supervised housing. The campus will include classrooms, an equestrian center for equine therapy aand a horticulture center where students will maintain greenhouses.

"BrightStone was actually more than a dream. It really was a vision," CEO and Founder Brenda Hauk said. "Though the journey was a whole lot longer than we had expected, anticipated and ever imagined, this goal of providing a campus of services for adults with life challenges was always in our life, always in our plan, always in our endeavors. That vision has its beginning today of a vibrant community of adults learning, working, growing and living life together. [This is] a chance in their life to become productive members of our community and to achieve at their highest level of potential and independence."

Construction on the $25 million campus is now underway, and students are expected to begin moving in starting in spring 2021. Director of Advancement Randy Elliott said while the land has been paid for, the nonprofit is still in need of funding to complete all phases of the campus plan, as the center receives no government funding and is only 30% funded by tuition.

The event also celebrated the nonprofit's 20th anniversary. Hauk founded the organization in 1999.

"From our meager beginning of four students, a volunteer staff and free space at what is now the Church of the City and very little funding, BrightStone opened its doors, and I think that's our whole story—we began," Hauk said. "And today, we continue to begin our first steps to build something bigger than any of us here today: something so important that this state, higher education universities and researchers will admire [it] and see [it] as a model. But most importantly, their scared families and their vibrant and capable adults will have hope."

Read more about BrightStone here.