In 2005, a group of 36 professional and community leaders from education, health and business formed the Triangle New School Planning Council to address the needs of children with severe communication and mobility problems. Their efforts were supported by a planning grant from Rex Endowment.
In 2007, a non-profit—New Voices– was established to implement the work of the Triangle New School Planning Council.
New Voices’ mission is to help children with severe communication and physical challenges maximize their learning potential. The ultimate goal of New Voices is inclusion in all aspects of life. New Voices seeks to do this through community awareness, training for professionals working with NV children, family support, and increased access to assistive technology. While New Voices’ focus has been in the Triangle region of NC , New Voices is committed to replication across the state and the country.
Since 2008, New Voices has:
- Planned and designed a regional model to assess and prepare New Voices children to transition effectively into regular school environments.
- Collaborated with the Center for Development and Learning at UNC-CH to create and refine a comprehensive assessment program to prepare New Voices children for educational transition into the public schools
- Funded for two years the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at UNC-CH to implement the New Voices Interdisciplinary Consultation Project, which assisted schools and teachers to serve New Voices children.
- Collaborated with Murdoch Developmental Center to restore and strengthen a statewide communication devices lending library for teachers, parents, speech therapists and assistive technologists—Tadpole.
- Provided funding to the Kenan Fellows Program at NC State University for fellowships to support the professional development of assistive technologists in the public Schools.
- Partnered with the NC Assistive Technology Program and NC Central University to hold workshops for Speech and Language Pathologists on communications technology.
- Sponsored an educational track on Augmentative Communication at the Assistive Technology Expo 2010.
- Joined forces with Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh to outfit the museum to accommodate to the special needs of New Voices children.
- Created linkages between the Biomedical Engineering Programs at Duke University, NC State, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Project Tadpole, the communications devices lending library at Murdoch Developmental Center, and the New Voices Assessment Classroom.
- Partnered with Footpath Pictures to design and produce an award winning documentary—Certain Proof—about New Voices children and their families. Shown at the Vail, Seattle, Los Angeles, Southern Appalachia, and Wilmington Film Festivals.
- Cooperated with the UNC Center for Public Television’s North Carolina People with William Friday program in interviewing Certain Proof co-producer, Susan Ellis and New Voices Board member, Sandy McMillan.
- Raised funds to support programs and scholarships in excess of $500,000 from CVS -Caremark, Walmart Foundation, Glaxo Smith Kline, Bojangles, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Triangle Community Foundation and many private donors.
- Received grants to plan and establish a model New Voices model classroom.
- Partnered with Durham Public Schools to establish the New Voices Assessment Classroom.