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$20 million contribution from Mike & Rose Kaplan and Charlie & Joanne Kaplan for special needs students
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$20 million contribution from Mike & Rose Kaplan and Charlie & Joanne Kaplan for special needs students

The Redondo Neach, California-based Friendship Foundation, dedicated to elevating the lives of those with varying abilities for 17+ years, announced a $30 million Friendship Campus Endowment Fund with a $20 million commitment from Mike & Rose Kaplan and Charlie & Joanne Kaplan.

Their donations include a $10 million gift from Mike & Rose with an additional $10 million-matching grant from Charlie & Joanne for every dollar donated to the Endowment Fund moving forward to reach the $30 million target.

The new Fund was announced at the “Topping Off” Ceremony celebrating the structural completion of the Friendship Campus: The Greenberg Family/Skechers Center for intellectually and physically diverse students on Wednesday, May 8. City, education and business leaders came together to sign the final beam supporting the Campus and celebrate this important milestone. An anonymous donor inspired all in attendance with a surprise $3 million contribution toward the matching Endowment Fund grant, bringing the committed total to $23 million with $7 million to be raised.

President of Skechers and the Skechers Foundation, and Friendship Foundation co-founder Michael Greenberg; Redondo Beach councilwoman Paige Kaluderovic; Gensler co-CEO Andy Cohen and FF board member Mike Kaplan led other VIPs and leaders in writing inspirational words of hope and joy on the final steel beam supporting the Friendship Campus and commemorating completion of structural framing.

“The Friendship Campus Endowment Fund is not just a fund – it’s the gateway to a brighter future for all,” said Mike Kaplan. “With boundless enthusiasm it kicks off an incredible journey toward ensuring that every individual, regardless of their abilities or socio-economic background, has the chance to chase their dreams and showcase their extraordinary talents. Let’s ignite the spirit of inclusivity and opportunity together!”

Said Michael Greenberg: “We are creating a unique and highly needed destination for neurodivergent youth as they age out of our educational system—Friendship Campus: The Greenberg Family/Skechers Center, a state-of-the-art facility that will be the first of its kind in our country. This Campus is the natural next step in our children’s journey with the Friendship Foundation, which has helped them transform from individuals with limited resources to specialized programs that meet their needs. From our initial meetings a few years ago to celebrating the framework of our future Campus, the Greenbergs and the Skechers family are proud to come together with esteemed members of the Friendship Foundation, the Kaplan family who has generously donated much-needed funds, and our community to make this dream a reality.”

The innovative Friendship Campus: The Greenberg Family/Skechers Center will include a 62,000-square-foot facility to develop an engaging and inviting environment for the entire community. The brainchild of the Friendship Foundation and its co-founder Yossi Mintz, the educational and vocational Campus will focus on serving the whole individual with talent and skill building; personal growth and development programs; social and emotional wellness; healthy lifestyle habits and physical fitness; and job training and exploration programs.

Construction began in February of 2023 at 850 S. Inglewood Ave. in Redondo Beach and is expected to be complete by Fall 2025. The campus will offer innovative vocational programs for postsecondary students who are intellectually and physically diverse, which will be the cornerstone of the new 3.25-acre state-of-the-art Campus. Vocational exploration, training, and placement will fuel the need to assist individuals discover their unique abilities and to successfully fulfill their purpose and dreams while gaining independence in the community. Construction partners for the Friendship Campus include general contractor Project Delivery Group (PDG); architectural and design firm Gensler; construction management consultants Gardiner & Theobald; and brand strategists Saatchi & Saatchi.

“We’re so thankful to the Kaplan families for their incredible generosity and commitment to neurodiverse individuals with this new Endowment Fund,” said Yossi Mintz, FF Executive Director and Co-Founder. “The support of our community’s education, civic and business leaders with symbolic words of encouragement on our final beam add to the ongoing financial and resource support that make this dream a reality. What began as a single Friendship Club 17 years ago, has now grown to 76 Clubs in 22 school districts, more than 60 monthly programs, summer and adaptive athletic camps and now our Friendship Campus coming next year.”

The Friendship Foundation is dedicated to building an integrated, accepting and unified community for our children and young adults. It was founded 15 years ago by Yossi Mintz, Michael Greenberg, and Adam Carroll with the goal of providing neurodiverse children with those with varying abilities the same advantages as their peers to enjoy and experience life. The organization has developed programs that allow all children to play, grow, develop and thrive together. The Friendship Foundation currently operates 76 school-sanctioned Friendship Clubs in 22 school districts; 60+ monthly programs for ages 8-35+; social and life skills classes including athletics and wellness, social and life skills classes and fieldtrips, cooking and gardening, arts, drama, and vocal, financial empowerment, and science; a six-week summer camp with 150 weekly participants and student volunteers; and adaptive peer-to-peer athletic camps in basketball, soccer, football, and tennis.

The success and growing demand from the Foundation’s existing programs have expanded the vision to include an innovative new campus centered around turning special needs into special contributions to society. Follow Friendship Foundation at https://www.instagram.com/thefriendshipfoundation/ and https://www.facebook.com/FFsouthbay/.

Established in 2010 to help children in need, the Skechers Foundation is dedicated to strengthening communities to ensure the health, success and well-being of youth worldwide. We invest in a global network of charitable organizations dedicated to embracing individuals with diverse abilities, improving education, empowering disadvantaged families and providing humanitarian, disaster and economic relief. By supporting millions through our products and services, we aspire to make a valiant effort in creating stronger, self-sufficient individuals for future generations.

Photo: Charlie (l) and Mike (r) Kaplan sign the frame of the Friendship Campus: The Greenberg Family/Skechers Center final beam celebrating the end of structural framing.

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