Chicago Nonprofit Supporting Families Living with a Younger-Onset Alzheimer’s Diagnosis Secures $1M Donation
CHICAGO – Chicago nonprofit Lorenzo’s House, an organization that works to empower families navigating younger-onset Alzheimers and other dementias through innovative, specialized programming for both the person diagnosed, their care-partner-spouse and children, is capping off its eventful first year of operation by announcing a $1 million donation from an anonymous donor.
Founded just 11 months ago, Lorenzo’s House aims to reach families locally, nationally, and internationally. The donation will be used as seed funding to scale programs to match the demand in the community of overwhelmed and isolated families. Worldwide, an estimated 3.9 million people aged 30 to 65 years old are diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
The nonprofit has reached thousands of people, including this recent donor, who said in a statement: “As someone who was a care-partner myself, I am so pleased to find a deserving place for this donation to carry on my late husband’s legacy. I have been searching for a place that takes an innovative approach to making a difference in the Alzheimer’s community, and I found it in Lorenzo’s House.”
“There is a huge need here – a need for community, for resources, and empowerment for the whole family in a comprehensive, integrated manner. As a social entrepreneur, I saw opportunities to bring light and our pilot projects this year have been very successful,” said Diana Shulla Cose, the founding executive director of Lorenzo’s House. “We are building a holistic support model that cares for the whole family – that’s been missing in this community.”
Shulla Cose is no stranger to finding inventive ways to provide services to overlooked communities. She served for 25 years as co-founder and president of Perspectives Schools, a network of public charter schools in Chicago. The network scaled from 40 students to over 2000 students with 250 staff, thanks in part to the $50M that was raised under her leadership.
In 2017, her husband Lorenzo was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s, turning life upside down for the couple and their two sons, just 11 and 14 at the time. She founded Lorenzo’s House out of a compelling desire to fill a gaping care and connection gap and empower her own family, as well as other families living with younger-onset Alzheimer’s and other dementias.
“This niche group in the Alzheimer’s community is misunderstood and under-resourced,” said Dr. James Mastrianni, the Director of the Memory Center at the University of Chicago, and a Lorenzo’s House ally. “They struggle to find specialized resources as a younger family who is still working and raising children. As a neurologist, all too often I see the multidimensional problems experienced with a younger-onset diagnosis. We need a place like Lorenzo’s House to send families – a place that is creating a way for families to come together and to be empowered.”
Lorenzo’s House is currently wrapping up its ‘100 Days of Light’ end-of-year fundraising campaign, for which it has already raised over $250,000 from donations of $10 and more.
The resources couldn’t come at a more important time. “Every day, I hear from families, social workers, and medical professionals emphasizing how important our work is,” said Shulla Cose. “Thanks to the breathtaking generosity of this $1 million donation, we will build out our infrastructure and develop our programming. Our mission resonates with so many who are walking this very difficult path, and we intend to bring solidarity and comfort to them all. We are just getting started.”
Amber H. Bobin