Family Initiative receives $5 million in state funding to fund Thrive Academy, build special needs shelter

By June 15, 2023News



Family Initiative receives $5 million in state funding to fund Thrive Academy, build special needs shelter 


FORT MYERS, Fla., (DATE, 2023) – Family Initiative has received $5 million in state funding for Thrive Academy, a private educational setting for young people on the autism spectrum. Additionally, the funding will allow Family Initiative to build a special needs shelter to adequately Support children and their families in the event of a natural disaster. 

“We are thankful to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, Florida House Rep. Jenna Persons-Mulicka and Florida Sen. Jonathan Martin for approving $5 million in funding for the Thrive Academy and special needs shelter in the state budget,” said David Brown, co-founder and president of Family Initiative. “Our Family Initiative staff, parents and board members applaud these leaders for establishing a safer, brighter, more independent future for young people on the autism spectrum while also supporting and protecting families from another big storm.” 

Thrive Academy has been piloted as a micro school in the 2022 school year and will serve high school students with autism. Currently, 10 children on the autism spectrum are enrolled, and we will be ready to enroll more students in the fall. Additionally, Thrive Academy will provide wrap-around specialized education, vocational training and clinical support. Private donations and public funding will support the acquisition, renovation or construction, and operations for Thrive Academy, which is currently in the planning phases. 


“Thrive Academy will give young people on the autism spectrum the opportunity to become more self-sufficient using their unique talents,” added co-founder and vice president, Anjali Van Drie. “We are immensely grateful, and we thank the delegation and Gov. Ron DeSantis for empowering parents to make educational decisions impacting our children and for supporting us in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian with funding for the special needs shelter.”  

Through compassion and innovation, Southwest Florida-based Family Initiative is working to redefine autism programs and clinical services. The nonprofit offers a family-centered approach that includes evidence-based services, practical training and compassionate support, and is the first organization in the region with an on-site campus dedicated to supporting individuals and families impacted with autism spectrum disorder. 

To learn more about Family Initiative, the services they offer and their work in the community, visit or call 239-910-0712.