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Celebrating 80 Years - 1958, Laradon Hall Society for Exceptional Children and Adults

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

Laradon circa 1950


#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


Belief in the power of education and the promise of children have been central components of El Pomar Foundation giving from the beginning, and many of the Foundation’s early grants reflect the compassion Spencer and Julie Penrose had for the young. A grantee since 1952, the Laradon Hall Society for Exceptional Children and Adults was the first charitable organization in the Rocky Mountain region to offer innovative support for a particular group of Colorado’s children—those with developmental disabilities.


Grantee Spotlight:  

Laradon Hall Society for Exceptional Children and Adults

The first charitable organization in the Rocky Mountain region to offer support, education and training to children with developmental disabilities, the Laradon School was founded in 1948 by Joseph and Elizabeth Calabrese. The school was named for their sons, Larry and Don, who were denied a public school education because they were labeled “uneducable.” The Calabreses set out to provide proper training, education, and support for people with disabilities, so that the individuals they served could reach their full potential.

In less than two years, the school was filled to capacity as other parents who sought an education for their children learned of its work. After gaining national recognition, the school continued to expand over the years, and moved to its current facility in northwest Denver in 1950.

Today, Laradon’s mission is “to be an organization of excellence that provides superior, individualized services to children and adults with intellectual, developmental and other disabilities, supporting their independence in daily life and maximizing their full potential.” Through adult day programs, employment programs, community living, and education, they work to promote inclusion, independence, and success for those they serve.

Laradon today

El Pomar first granted to Laradon in 1952, and has funded the care of children, scholarships, and capital projects over the years. Laradon has also been recognized with an Award for Excellence on behalf of former El Pomar Trustee Karl E. Eitel, in honor of Eitel’s compassion for disadvantaged children.



El Pomar in 1958:

El Pomar granted $1.9 million in 1958, including the Foundation’s first grant to the High Country region: $2,000 to St. Vincent General Hospital District in Leadville. The largest capital grants included construction of a new building at Penrose Hospital, construction of the hippopotamus habitat at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and funds to rebuild the central heating system at Colorado College.

Images courtesy of Laradon

Spotlight by Corey Baron