Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement

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Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.


Moving On, Moving Up
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Congresswoman Judy Biggert cuts the ribbon with Orland Park officials at Learning Ally's new studio
On March 21 in the Village of Orland Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, Learing Ally studio staff, volunteers, and community friends celebrated their relocation to a newly renovated facility -- in a building that formerly served as the Village police station. A great deal of collaboration and creativity went into this long-planned relocation, reflecting unique partnership between nonprofit, civic and business leaders. With more than 120 volunteers in Orland Park, our organization has enjoyed deep historical ties to the area - first as RFB, then RFB&D, and now as Learning Ally. Our original Lois C. Klein Studio opened in 1963 on West 143rd Street and LaGrange Road, and operated continuously there thanks to rent for the space being donated by buidling owner Jim Gee. In 2007, our Orland Park team learned they would need to find a new home for the studio,  owing to planned redevelopment of the land and rail station around the building. A series of meetings were held with local officials including the Mayor, the Village Manager and his team, and Orland Park Trustees. After several locations were carefully considered, the Village donated space at the site of its former police station. In the summer of 2010, the Orland Park Trustees approved a proposal for a ten-year lease at a rental rate of $12 per year. Since then, the team has been diligently raising funds for building out the space needed for the studio, recording booths, conference rooms, offices and kitchen. Much of construction costs were deferred, thanks to a great deal of work and materials donated by local firms -- including Studio GC, Bovis Lend Lease, Snaidero Cabinets, Related Midwest, Heneghan Wrecking, Capitol Glass, ABT Electronics, C&C Communications, ALCA Renovations, Malko Electric, Granite Innovations. “We have raised over $150,000 of the $240,000 budget to date – thanks to our major foundation donors, the Amicus Foundation and Dr. Scholl Foundation, and our generous individual donors,” says Shelley Chenoweth, Learning Ally's Midwest Area Director. Construction began in November, 2010; the final move took place this past February, and the grand opening celebration on March 21 was attended by U.S. Congresswoman Judy Biggert, Illlinois State Representative Kevin McCarthy, Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin, and long time board member Don Biernacki, SVP of Construction at Related Midwest, who played a key role in bringing this unique project to fruition.        -Doug Sprei U.S. Congresswoman Judy Biggert recording an audio book at Learning Ally's studio in Orland Park, Illinois Congresswoman Judy Biggert records an audiobook at Learning Ally's newly renovated studio in Orland Park, Illinois


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