Cantalician Center Announces Major Funding From Senator Tim Kennedy & Russell J. Salvatore for its Courtyard for Students with Disabilities


BUFFALO, NY - Cantalician Center for Learning announced that it will be the recipient of funding for its soon-to-be Russell J. Salvatore Courtyard. The nonprofit organization will receive a donation from the Russell J. Salvatore Foundation in the amount of $200,000 and an Economic Development Grant through Senator Tim Kennedy's office in the amount of $100,000 to begin the renovation project at its Academic Campus in Depew, New York.

Cantalician Center's current courtyard is a large barren concrete space centrally located within the campus and is currently being used as a secure environment for its students to play outside, but the reality is that it's not very child friendly. The concrete ground in the courtyard gets very hot in the summer, it's unusable in the winter, and the hard surface can be dangerous for those who struggle with behavioral or mobility issues.

The courtyard space currently has no equipment or functional spaces within and discourages children from playing together. The renovation project will transform the space into a fully functional and usable environment to include: a new and safe surface, sand & water tables, benches, trees, large umbrellas, and canopy shading. It would also include separate zones: active play, passive play, educational, outdoor eating, communal spaces and a usable community space.

"When the Cantalician Center told me about their vision for their courtyard space, and described just how transformative it would be for their students with special needs, I knew my office needed to get involved immediately," said Senator Tim Kennedy. "As someone with a background in occupational therapy, I understood the impact this project would have, and the benefits that a healing, interactive environment like this could bring students at the Center. We went to work, and in partnership with Russell Salvatore, we were able to deliver the Cantalician Center with the full funding to make this project a reality. I'm incredibly grateful to Russell for believing in this project and these children and investing in their well-being long-term, and to the Cantalician Center, for fiercely and tirelessly working to be the best advocates for their students."

"Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the Cantalician Center on an invitation from Senator Tim Kennedy. I was very impressed by the facility, its staff, and their leaders. Their commitments to educate the under served population of Western New York is not only necessary, but in my eyes, vital to help build the foundations that our young people will need to succeed. There has already been so much great work done at Cantalician Center to accommodate the kids that I am very happy to be in a position to step in, with the funding and design needed for the new Courtyard," said Russell J. Salvatore, Restaurateur and Philanthropist.

"We could not be more thrilled to be able to begin work on our Russell J. Salvatore Courtyard and we owe it all to the giving spirit of Russell Salvatore and Senator Tim Kennedy," said Jason Petko, Director of Education, Cantalician Center. "The renovation will truly address a crucial need for a safer space that students with sensory issues, orthopedic impairments, fine and gross motor delays require to play, learn, and grow. It will also provide equipment, and a safe, functional space for our students of all abilities to enjoy and learn together."

The courtyard renovation will be done in four phases. The first phase will include utilizing the Economic Development Grant funding to remove the old, inefficient windows that currently line the courtyard and replacing them with energy efficient windows that will reduce energy costs and keep the academic building cool in warmer weather. The second through fourth phases will include the utilization of funding from the Russell J. Salvatore Foundation to prepare the space for renovations, the installation of canopies for shade, the installation of rubber turf, the installation of various outdoor accessories, sporting equipment, seating, landscaping, and more. The rendering and plans for the project were donated to Cantalician Center by Landscape Architect David Kenyon of Wendel Companies.

"On behalf of the people and families we serve at Cantalician Center, our staff, and Board of Directors, we cannot thank Russell Salvatore and Senator Tim Kennedy enough for their generosity," said Anne Spisiak, Executive Director, Cantalician Center. "The dream of the Russell J. Salvatore Courtyard will now come to life due to the vision and passion they have for the Western New York community. It truly is the perfect example of positive public and private investment and we cannot wait for our students and families to be able to enjoy the fruits of this collaborative effort."

Cantalician Center is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that offers meaningful, integrated services to hundreds of children and adults with developmental disabilities and people in need across Western New York from birth through retirement through its Early Childhood Community Services, School Age, Preschool and Daycare Services, as well as its Day Habilitation Services, Employment Services, and Contract Sales through its division Diversified Labor Solutions.


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