A challenging history shows the strength of our leadership. Our founders saw a better way.
Elwyn is the longest-running human services nonprofit of its kind in the nation. Elwyn is the birthplace of many practices, models of service and traditions of the disabilities community, and it has served as the training ground and springboard for thousands of practitioners and staff who now work throughout the region and beyond.
Today, we continue to create opportunities where there once were none. We must honor our history—while moving forward and envisioning our future.
James Richards arrived in Philadelphia to open a classroom for children with intellectual disabilities.
A year later, Dr. Alfred Elwyn agreed to support James Richards’ efforts and founded “The Pennsylvania Training School for Feeble-Minded Children.”
Upon invitation, Dorothea Dix came to Philadelphia to see the work being done with the children.
She then spoke before the Pennsylvania legislature and obtained a grant for the construction of a new, larger school. A 300-acre farm near Media, Pennsylvania was chosen and purchased for $10,000.
The building was completed and the 25 children plus staff traveled to the new school.
Two yearslater, the Civil War left the school with decreased revenue and all “officers of the house and teachers” agreed to a 50% pay cut.
The first professional organization totally devoted to the study of intellectual disabilities emerges.
What was to become the current American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities is founded at Elwyn. As its first president, it selects Edouard Seguin, the French-born American psychiatrist who pioneered modern educational methods for teaching the severely intellectually disabled.
All children admitted to Elwyn began standardized testing.
Testing included the Vineland Social Maturity Scale. This method was developed at The Training School at Vineland, New Jersey, which later became a subsidiary of Elwyn.
Dr. Gerald R. Clark becomes superintendent and makes major changes.
During his tenure, he significantly modified the Kerlin/Barr Model. Campus services were opened to the community. Elwyn began new community-based vocational, residential, and educational services for people with intellectual disabilities.
New chapters open nationwide
Elwyn California was founded in Fountain Valley, Ca., and Elwyn Delaware was founded in Wilmington, De. to support community-based vocational and rehabilitation facilities.
Elwyn was awarded the contract for early intervention services in Philadelphia.
New services and locations open.
Elwyn adds residential services to California. In Allentown, Pa., Elwyn celebrated the groundbreaking for the Autism Resource Community Hub of Lehigh Valley (ARCH).
Charles “Chuck” S. McLister, MA, MBA joins Elwyn as President and CEO.
Drawing from over 27 years in the health and human services industry, he positions Elwyn for near-future growth. He sees the unique capacity and expertise at Elwyn as a direct match for the industry’s rapidly growing needs
Elwyn’s Board of Directors approves our first five-year strategic plan.
We strengthen our future with Forever Elwyn.
As our horizons expand, so will the number of people we help. We have the resources, the plan, and the will to increase our international influence. We bring relevance, scale, and expertise. As we continue to grow, we look forward to the time when no one can imagine a world without Elwyn.