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Education, Inclusiveness for the Neurodiverse Community

NONPROFITS: TERI to Serve More Individuals at New San Marcos Home

TERI, the 43-year-old nonprofit that provides education, support, recreation, wellness and career-training services for neurodiverse people of all ages is on solid ground with its ongoing build of a new $70 million campus in San Marcos.

Oceanside-based TERI, Inc. – Training Education and Resource Institute – continues to develop the 20-acre property on Deer Springs Road originally purchased in 2002 behind a $1 million gift from developer Charles Cono, who died in 2009.

Dan DeSaegher
Chief Development Officer
Training Education and Resource Institute, Inc. (TERI)

TERI is currently in the middle of a multi-phase $46 million capital campaign, half funded by philanthropic support. that will allow it to become a more comprehensive facility, according to Dan DeSaegher, chief development officer of TERI.

“The campus is being purposefully integrated with the local community as TERI’s long-term commitment to an underserved and challenged community and a respected model to the world of the enriching power of inclusivity and belonging,” DeSaegher said.

The master plan includes 111,000 square feet of facilities, including two non-public schools for 150 students totaling 23,760 square feet; Dr. Bronner’s Country Day School and The Learning Academy, which will accommodate activities for students, their families, teachers, researchers, professionals, volunteers and community members.

TERI’s current site of a group of leased buildings on 55,000 acres in the light industrial area of Oceanside will eventually be phased out completely with the move to The Charles R. Cono TERI Campus of Life in San Marcos. TERI also owns and operates 12 group homes across the North San Diego County region with about 70 clients of all ages living in the homes with TERI staff.

International Recognition

“TERI has been recognized internationally as a model for the highest standard of care and has trained and advised in 14 countries,” CEO Cheryl Kilmer said. “With TERI’s resources and innovative technology, we will offer our model and research to more organizations and families than ever for replication here and across the world.”

Cheryl Kilmer
Founder & CEO
Training Education and Resource Institute, Inc. (TERI)

The Campus of Life is being strategically designed with sustainability in mind, including clean, renewable energy, water preservation and revenue-generating enterprises. The campus has a 6.5-acre organic agricultural space for training and campus sustainability, including facilities to process and distribute produce grown on the on-site farm.

While TERI is a nonprofit with a $33.6 million budget, it operates several businesses that offer work experience for hundreds of clients while also generating income, including microgreens farming, a resale clothing shop in Oceanside, a life-coaching certificate program and facility rentals.

Kilmer, who founded TERI in 1980, said there is a tremendous need for expansion. Its 400-plus-member staff currently serve nearly 900 clients each month. The new site will allow it to serve three times as many people, Kilmer said.

TERI reports that this year in the United States, more children will be diagnosed with intellectual or developmental disabilities than cancer, diabetes and AIDS combined. One in every six children will be diagnosed with one or more intellectual or developmental disabilities. It’s estimated that 40,000 children and adults have intellectual or developmental disabilities in San Diego alone.

Vocational Training

In 2021, TERI opened the Tom and Mary Tomlinson Vocation Center at the Campus of Life to provide career training and vocational experiences not traditionally available to adults with special needs.

Kilmer said TERI’s expanding vocational training programs “directly change the quality-of-life trajectory” for adults with special needs by providing innovative and proven holistic education, development and enrichment opportunities, community inclusion, vocational training and life skills training.

The two-story, 8,400-square foot Tomlinson Vocation Center was designed for inclusive interaction and integration as a public social enterprise business and includes a commercial-grade kitchen that produces meals that are sold on-site at the full-service restaurant TERI Common Grounds Café and Coffee Bar.

The vocation center also houses retail shop Sheri’s Boutique, a Vocational Internship Program and event spaces that can be rented by corporations and community members.

A believer in the power of health and fitness, Kilmer is especially proud of the coming 30,000-square foot health and wellness complex on the Campus of Life that will include a Junior Olympic-sized pool and a full-size basketball court as well as a dedicated exercise room with state-of-the-art equipment.

“I think it’s critical,” Kilmer said. “We all should think that – it’s about quality of life and the core of well-being. That is not a focus in our industry, it never has been. Mostly it’s been a big focus on behaviors, just on 24-hour care, those kinds of things.”

TERI expects a January launch of the 22,000-square foot Zable Performing Arts and Fine Arts Center and Bornemann Theatre on campus.

Construction of the $15 million building is fully funded but TERI hopes to fundraise further toward the project for classroom and studio furnishings, theatre technology, exterior gardens and a “Central Park” outdoor mall, DeSaegher said.

TERI, Inc.

FOUNDED: 1980
CEO: Cheryl Kilmer
HEADQUARTERS: Oceanside and San Marcos
BUSINESS: Nonprofit
BUDGET: $33.6 million
EMPLOYEES: More than 400
WEBSITE: teriinc.org
CONTACT: 760-721-1706
SOCIAL IMPACT: TERI’s mission is to change the way the world sees, helps and empowers those with special needs.
NOTABLE: Each year, TERI must raise over $1.5 million to sustain the current programs and housing, raising about 20% over public and private service reimbursements

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