Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

The Impact of Giving

Each year, gift contributions from individuals and organizations help to fuel the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's mission by allowing it to expand its research, training, clinical services, and more.

Read the stories below to see how others have generously contributed to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

You or your organization can make an impact, too!

There are several ways you can contribute to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center mission.

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McKenzie and her mom Dominique celebrate another successful semester with former Reading Clinic coordinator Caresa Young.

The Gift That Keeps Giving

How Dollar General's donation helped nine-year-old McKenzie learn to read.

Grants from our corporate donors have the ability to improve the lives of multiple children in Middle Tennessee. One child who benefitted from the generosity of Dollar General is nine-year-old McKenzie. Because of the scholarship they provided, she was able to enroll in the Reading Clinic at a critical point in her learning.

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic provides intensive one-on-one instruction for children who are experiencing reading problems. The Special Education Teacher Training Program of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College provides student tutors for the program. These students, along with experienced classroom teachers, use research-based instructional methods that have been proven to help children acquire reading skills.

McKenzie’s mother Dominique says, “I was unclear on how to help McKenzie, and the Reading Clinic is a blessing because she is improving with each session. Without the scholarship, she would not be able to attend due to my financial situation. I love McKenzie and know that this experience has helped her self-esteem and self-worth. She has been better with asking for help and knows that she can become a leader when it comes to reading aloud.

“McKenzie and I have a better relationship when it comes to completing school assignments because she is learning leadership and coping skills at the Reading Clinic as well. McKenzie was headed down a road of giving up on reading and trying to escape her weaknesses. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the tutors, the scholarships, and the time you have given McKenzie. McKenzie got her first certificate ever for Most Improved Reader in her class. She was so excited and has shown it to everyone. This is strictly due to the Reading Clinic.”

To learn more about how the Dollar General Literacy Foundation is helping others like McKenzie, visit www.dollargeneral.com. To learn more about opportunities for you or your organization to partner with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, please contact Jan Rosemergy at jan.rosemergy@vanderbilt.edu or (615) 322-8238.

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Committed to Inclusive Postsecondary Education—Carol Henderson

VKC Leadership Council member Carol Henderson has been a long-term supporter of inclusive education for students with disabilities. In 1996, she and her husband endowed the Britt Henderson Training Series for Educators in memory of their son Britt. This year, Henderson has given a significant 4-year financial gift to the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program, a 2-year certificate program for students with intellectual and other developmental disabilities.

Read how Carol Henderson supported inclusive education for students with disabilities.

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Joy of Discovery

Through the Martin McCoy-Jespersen Discovery Grants in Positive Psychology, Martin’s parents are providing others "a way to be more like Martin" and for each to find, "in their own way, the fullness of life."

Read how the McCoy-Jespersen Family’s gift for research in positive psychology is a living memorial to their son Martin’s positive, joyful spirit.

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Linda Brooks Helps Next Steps at Vanderbilt

Next Steps at Vanderbilt, the first postsecondary certificate program for students with intellectual disabilities in Tennessee, received a generous gift from longtime supporter, friend, and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Leadership Council member Linda Brooks and her family.

Read how Linda Brooks helps Next Steps take some next steps.

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Team William Runs for Down Syndrome

Andrea McDermott Sanders, Vanderbilt special education alumna (M.Ed. 2006) and VKC Leadership Council member, completed her eighth Country Music Marathon in 2012 to raise funds for the Team William Scholarship Fund for students in the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic. Andrea's efforts have raised more than $180,000 since 2004 to provide financial support for students with Down syndrome attending the Reading Clinic. A former reading tutor, Andrea established the scholarship in honor of William Spickard, one of her students. William's family has partnered with Andrea in raising support. In 2009, Anna Spickard, William's older sister, organized the Team William 5k,
an additional fundraising event. In 2012, they funded the Team William Discovery Grant
to advance research on Down syndrome.

Read how the Team William helped children with Down syndrome learn to read.

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Grandparents, The Landreth Family—Catalysts for Discovery

Autism, like other developmental disabilities, affects not only a child but also the immediate family and extended family. Grandparents play important roles-loving caregivers, creative resource finders, dedicated advocates. And in some instances, grandparents may be able to provide gifts for research to find answers that may help create a better future for their grandchild and for other children with developmental disabilities. This is the story of the Robert E. Landreth Family.

Read how the Landreths enabled important autism research.

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Nashville Predators Help Struggling Readers Score

Grants from our corporate donors have the ability to improve the lives of children with disabilities and families in Tennessee. We would like to express our gratitude to the Nashville Predators Foundation for awarding the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic with a grant that allowed eight students to participate in the program on scholarship. Funding like this is essential in order to provide critical learning intervention to youth who do not have the financial means to attend the clinic. We are grateful to the Nashville Predators Foundation for the hand they lent in improving children’s lives in our community.

Read how corporate donors such as the Nashville Predators Foundation are able to help children in Middle Tennessee learn to read.

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A Passion for the Arts, a Passion for Service

Robb and Mary Jane Swaney were able to apply their life passions to the support of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center mission. Robb, an architect and committed philanthropist, brought to life a specially designed, accessible playground where young children with and without disabilities can now play together. Mary Jane, an artist, supports programs that nurture budding artists with developmental disabilities.

Read how the Robb and Mary Jane Swaney were able to make a huge impact on the lives of children with and without developmental disabilities.

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Music of the Heart

See how one Nashville couple was able to help teach people living with developmental disabilities how to use music therapeutically, while also supporting research in human development and training for professionals in the community.

Read how Lorie and John Lytle brought music to the lives of people with developmental disabilities.