NH Leadership Series Receives $350,000 Grant from Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund

The Institute on Disability (IOD) at the University of New Hampshire has been awarded a $350,000 grant by the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund to establish the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Leadership Training Fund. It will benefit the New Hampshire Leadership Series and is intended to be distributed over the next ten to fifteen years for programmatic and scholarship support.

A Class of 1995 NH Leadership Series graduate, Annie Forts stayed involved with the program throughout her life. She was a motivational speaker, active community volunteer, served three terms on President Clinton’s President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. She received many honors including as the first recipient of the Kennedy Foundation’s International Self-Empowerment Award, the American Association of People with Disabilities’ Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award, National Down Syndrome Congress Exceptional Merit Award, and in 1997, she was named the ARC of NH Citizen of the Year. She passed away in May 2016.

“We are honored to have been chosen by the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund to carry on Annie’s legacy,” shares Dr. Mary Schuh, Director of Development & Consumer Affairs at the Institute on Disability. “This support will ensure individuals with disabilities, their families, and allies receive the tools and support needed to continue carrying out Annie’s legacy.”

The newly established Annie Forts Up Syndrome Leadership Training Fund at the New Hampshire Leadership Series will benefit applicants who have Down syndrome, family members of an individual with Down syndrome, and/or applicants who are committed to advocating for individuals with disabilities. This gift also establishes an annual award to honor Annie Forts’ legacy.

The Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund, Inc. was established by the Moultonborough Lions Club on March 25, 1997, to assist and encourage young people with Down Syndrome. Over the past 21 years, it has awarded over $550,000 in scholarships and grants. The Fund will close later this year, contributing its remaining funds to the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Leadership Training Fund at the Institute on Disability.

The NH Leadership Series is an intensive, nine college credit, eight-month program that provides leadership and advocacy training for individuals with disabilities and their family members. Since 1988, the program has been a pivotal change experience for family members and adults with disabilities by providing state-of-the-art information and strategies to effect change on disability-related issues locally and across the state. As a result of the work of its hundreds of alumni, NH has achieved national recognition for its innovative approaches to supporting people with disabilities and their families in their communities. Alumni of the program have passed state legislation, founded advocacy organizations, and serve at all levels of New Hampshire local, state, and federal government.