Through fundraising and advocacy, FIRE lights the way for children with special needs to share in the opportunities that Catholic schools provide. Without funding from FIRE, most students with special learning needs would not be able to attend Catholic schools. By fostering a culture of acceptance and compassion, ALL students benefits from inclusion as they grow together in faith, knowledge and friendship. FIRE’s model of funding and advocacy has become a national model for inclusive Catholic education.
FIRE was founded in 1996 by a group of parents who shared a common dream; for their children with special needs to attend their parish schools with siblings and friends. Since that time, through the efforts of parents, a dedicated board of directors, many talented volunteers and community members who embrace inclusive Catholic education, $2.4 million has been granted to partner schools in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph (MO) to support inclusive Catholic education.
The FIRE Foundation, an independent 501(c)3 organization, makes it possible for partner Catholic schools to hire special educators and paraprofessionals and to acquire learning materials and technology that create successful learning experiences for all children. Without grants from FIRE, most schools would not be able to welcome students with Down syndrome, significant learning disabilities, many who are on the Autism spectrum and students who face other special learning challenges. Children grow up knowing and appreciating each other’s unique gifts.
Who FIRE Serves
FIRE specifically provides financial grants to schools within the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph who are committed to educating children with special needs who would NOT be able to attend without para-professional support. Partner schools are awarded grants through a formal application process and implement inclusive Catholic education in a way that meets the needs of their unique learning community.
The foundation raises funds to assist schools with the costs of special education services for children with diagnosed special needs including Down syndrome, developmental delays, Lowe’s Syndrome, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Trisomy 9p and other conditions. Special education teachers, classroom teachers and para-professionals work as a team to provide the most effective learning opportunities in an inclusive (the same classroom as typical peers) environment.
Additionally, students with mild learning disabilities receive services and support from modifications and instruction provided by special education teachers and para-professionals within inclusive classrooms and resource rooms.
The mission of FIRE doesn’t only benefit students who receive special education services. The spirit of inclusion touches the hearts and lives of all students as well as their families, their educators and the entire faith community.
For more information on Inclusive Catholic Education within the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, click here.