CLA’s Generous Gift

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The Starkloff Disability Institute recently received a $15,000 grant from the CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) Foundation, a generous contribution in support of the Starkloff Career Academy.

SDI Director of Development Scott Thompson says funders like the CLA Foundation offer much-needed stability in uncertain times.

“Foundation gifts such as this help provide the financial cornerstone so we can continue to pay for program staff and resources,” Scott acknowledges.

SDI Young Friend Ethan Lay, who works for CLA, first became involved with Starkloff through his fiancé, a former practicum student who helped launch the DREAM BIG program. At work one day, as Ethan listened to a presentation by the CLA Foundation board, a thought occurred to him.

“Nick Graff, from our St. Louis office, was going over the 3 items they look for in potential grant recipients: education, employment and entrepreneurship,” Ethan explains. “I heard that and I was just like, ‘This lines up perfectly with what SDI does.’ So I reached out to Nick to get the ball rolling and apply.”

Nick and Ethan were part of a group that toured the SDI office last year and addressed the Career Academy class. Known as the public sector group, they primarily work with local nonprofits, universities and government agencies.

Susan Menhard, Director of the Starkloff Career Academy, was thoroughly impressed with the visitors from CLA.

“The energy they brought into the room was undeniable,” Susan recalls. “The corporate employees reached out to the candidates attending, wanting to know students’ job-search stories. CLA acknowledged and responded to each individual present for the course.”

Susan sums up the gratitude we all feel for our new relationship with the CLA Foundation:

“I am very thankful for the gift of financial support CLA so generously provided. Without support of this kind, we certainly would not be able to do the important and successful work that we do,” Susan concludes. “I am also grateful for the interest and belief in our candidates that CLA instilled on that day, contributing significantly to the candidates’ success.”


Screenshot of a virtual meeting. 9 people appear in equal rectangular boundaries. They are all smiling for a photo.

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