The 3-21 Foundation, Inc. was formed in 2009 and incorporated in March 2010. We were granted 501(c)3 tax exempt status in September 2010.
Recognizing the need to improve educational programs and services for children with Down syndrome in the greater Boston area, the Learning Program Boston was launched in 2009 to bring the fruits of Down syndrome education research into practice. The Learning Program Boston is based on a program originally developed by the Down Syndrome Foundation (Orange County, CA), which has since become a nationally-recognized model for parent-focused educational intervention. This in turn is based on peer-reviewed, evidence-based research conducted and published by world-recognized leaders in the field of cognitive research for children with Down syndrome.
A pilot educational program was initiated in 2009 with just 10 families. Structured to include educational and social components, the program provided an opportunity for local families to connect and a forum for parent training and information exchange. An umbrella charity, the 3-21 Foundation was incorporated in 2009 and was granted 501(c)3 tax-exempt status in 2010.
The name “3-21 Foundation” was chosen because Down syndrome is caused by Trisomy 21, the presence of three copies of the 21st human chromosome. Trisomy 21 is therefore “the foundation of our Foundation” and the source of many of the gifts possessed and challenges faced, by those endowed with the extra chromosome.
Over the next five years, the Learning Program Boston quickly grew to include families not only from Massachusetts, but from the other New England states as well. Currently through all its educational programs, we serve approximately 100+ families from all over New England.
Spring 2013 culminated in the designation of awards for two individuals that have played key roles in the development of the Learning Program Boston. Our President was awarded the Community Partnership Award from the Federation for Children with Special Needs for having “significant impact” in the community. Also, our lead special educator received the Outstanding Educator Award from the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress for her work in developing our student programs. Three years later in 2016, our President was awarded this same Award for her leadership of the Foundation’s educational activities. In April 2016, the City of Cambridge passed a resolution commending our President and the Foundation for improving educational outcomes for children and youth with Down syndrome.
In 2013, the 3-21 Foundation formally launched its educational consulting practice to provide professional development workshops to educators on topics related to Down syndrome education. In conjunction, we began offering consultations to school teams on best practices for teaching and including students with Down syndrome. Our work with schools has included observing, evaluating and developing recommendations for programming. We also provide on-going support and coaching to guide the implementation of our recommendations.
Concurrent with the growth of its activities in the educational arena, the 3-21 Foundation began its work in the area of cognitive research. To support our interests, we initiated leadership positions advocating for legislative priorities in education and cognitive research for people with Down syndrome. In all that we do, we seek not to duplicate the efforts of other Down syndrome organizations but to augment or amplify them. Our work and positions are guided by our mission of empowering people with Down syndrome and their families.
We continue to work very closely with our affiliate partner, Down Syndrome Foundation (Orange County, CA) and our local Down syndrome advocacy group, the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress, collaborating on programming, research projects and the provision of educational support services.
Much of our work is made possible through the generous support of our benefactors. Learn how you can Get Involved.