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Wendy Morris (Sophie’s Gallery Administrator), Toni Petruzzo (SMSC Board President), and Mark Rimland (SMSC student and artist)-courtesy photo

St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center Awarded $35,000 by NBCUniversal Foundation

San Diego CA— St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC), a nonprofit organization in El Cajon, CA, that educates and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential, has received a $35,000 Project Innovation grant from NBCUniversal Foundation.

The grant will fund SMSC’s Sophie’s Gallery Art Program and the use of technology to support entrepreneurial and artistic efforts of individuals with developmental disabilities to earn income and become productive, integrated members of the working community. The project will use e-commerce and technology to market and promote artworks and other items made by SMSC students with developmental disabilities so they can generate income from their work, secure funds for needed job producing program supplies, and receive recognition and support from beyond the immediate geographic community.

SMSC’s Art Program includes three gallery and program sites that create and sell mosaics, paintings, fused glass, jewelry, ceramics, printmaking, textile arts and weaving. The artistic creations are sold at Sophie’s Gallery and Gift Shop in downtown El Cajon; Sophie’s Too at the organization’s main campus in El Cajon; and Sophie’s Kensington Gallery in partnership with the Autism Research Institute. More than 300 adults with developmental disabilities attend Sophie’s Gallery Art Program Monday through Friday year-round.

“By having their works displayed and seen by a large number of people, our students gain pride in their abilities, and the public gains increased knowledge about the talents, skills and creativity of people with developmental disabilities,” said Debra Emerson, SMSC’s Chief Executive Officer. “Students earn a percentage of the sales price and the balance goes back into the art program to help fund program costs. By earning income, students gain self-esteem and independence.”