Nonprofit Spotlight: Islands of Brilliance

Last updated on February 3rd, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Islands of Brilliance
415 E. Menomonee St., Milwaukee
(651) 236-0474  |  islandsofbrilliance.org
Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:  @iobmke

Year founded: Founded in 2012; received 501(c)(3) status in 2015

Mission statement: By using creativity, technology, and one-to-one guidance, we are positively changing personal perceptions of self and promoting broader community views of those on the autism spectrum from people with disabilities to people with capabilities.

Primary focus: Early workforce development for individuals living with autism. This includes art, design, and STEM-based workshops for students on the autism spectrum beginning at age 8. Programming scaffolds into work-based transition opportunities for students 14+ through our Digital Academy learning experience. The final piece is Brilliant Studios, an integrated employment model, which hires candidates from our Digital Academy for apprentice work on production, design, and software development projects.

Other focuses: Brilliant Sandbox is a new collaboration with Milwaukee College Prep that involves pairing students on the autism spectrum with their grade level peers at workshops at the IOB studio space using traditional and digital means of creating art projects. We are looking to scale this model to create access to schools and districts throughout the Greater Milwaukee community who may be struggling to find meaningful ways to engage students living with autism.

Employees at this location: Six full-time, two part-time

Key donors: Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Bader Philanthropies, Northwestern Mutual Foundation, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s Heart of Canal Street, Autism Speaks, Green Bay Packers Foundation, Richard G. Jacobus Foundation, GE Healthcare and a growing number of private contributors.

Executive leadership: Mark Fairbanks, executive director; Courtney Rogaczewski, director of operations; Margaret Fairbanks, director of education

Board of directors: Kelly Scott, Katie Crawford Madlung, Margaret Fairbanks, Nydia Mauras-Jones, Steve Farr, Nicole Green, Dave Hanneken, Maggie Kuhn, Jim Locatelli and Maria Lopez Vento.

Is your organization actively seeking board members? Yes. We are currently looking to add board members with expertise in fundraising, finance and community relations.

Ways the business community can help your nonprofit: We are currently looking for corporate sponsors for our Digital Academy program; smaller design and production projects for our Brilliant Studio integrated employment model; donors and sponsors of Brilliant Sandbox for a school or district; and volunteers with a design or tech background to work with our students.

Key fundraising events:

Colors & Chords: Nov. 20 at Turner Hall Ballroom. For sponsorship information, email mark@islandsofbrilliance.org.

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