The Friendship Foundation (FF), dedicated to elevating the lives of those with varying abilities for 15+ years, announced that it has received final approval from the State of California’s Division of the State Architect (DSA) and permits to begin construction on its new Friendship Campus for intellectually and physically diverse students in Redondo Beach, Calif. FF has selected Project Delivery Group (PDG) as the general contractor for this phase of construction, which includes remaining demolition, earthwork, utility prep, and foundation work for the 64,000 square foot facility. PDG joins global architectural firm Gensler, construction management consultants Gardiner & Theobald, and Saatchi & Saatchi for brand strategy, in the Friendship Campus “dream team” of partners.
“The construction landscape continues to be challenging and we’re grateful to the Project Delivery Group for their flexibility and creativity in working with us to maximize our budget for this innovative build,” said Yossi Mintz, Friendship Foundation founder and Friendship Campus executive director. “We want to work with companies who truly understand how special this Campus will be for diverse students to find a lifelong passion and purpose. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with Gensler on the world-class design and architectural plans as well as Saatchi & Saatchi on conceptual brand strategy. As project manager, Gardiner & Theobald will merge the stunning and purposeful design and architectural plans with the quality of PDG to lay the foundation – literally and figuratively – for this one-of-a-kind Campus.”
PDG is a full-service general contractor that brings deep attention to detail, delivering high quality projects with honesty and openness. The firm has a broad range of experience from hospitality and resort to residential and industrial/mission critical work as well as education construction in both the private and public sector. Recent projects include the Urban Discovery Academy, transforming a historic property in the heart of downtown San Diego into one of the city’s top K-8 educational facilities. After renovating a turn-of-the-century building and adding a new 20,000 square foot modern building, the finished project featured 16 classrooms, administrator offices, a gym, library, art studio, rooftop playground, outdoor parking lot and playground and was completed in a tight eight-month timeframe. The project won the Alonzo Award from the City of San Diego.
Gensler Co-CEO added, “The Friendship Campus Development Team, led thru the vision of Rabbi Yossi, has reached a key project milestone in the project, in receiving DSA state approval of an inspirational and iconic design. The project has been purposely and carefully created for special needs children, and can now move full throttle into construction. Yossi’s vision is coming to life thru the dedication, ingenuity, and passion of a dedicated team of professionals including Gensler, G&T, and PDG and many other consultants and engineering organizations. We are all thrilled that we can make a tangible difference in these special needs children’s lives.”
Vocational Pathways and Apprenticeship Program to take flight with onset of constructionFlying Lion, Inc. will be working with The Friendship Foundation on the first paid apprenticeship model to document construction progress at the new Friendship Campus. The “Flying Friends Academy” is in development and will be the first of its kind to offer neuro divergent individuals a paid opportunity to work in an apprenticeship model. The program has been designed by FF Managing Director Kelly Stroman, Friendship Foundation participant parent and Verdugo Workforce Development Board Resource Specialist MaryAnn Pranke in conjunction with Flying Lion and Sky Ladder Drones. Participants will obtain their FAA Part 107 (uncrewed UAS) certification, programming for autonomous drone flights, aerial photo and video capture, photo and video editing through on-site, classroom and in field on-the-job training.The Sky Ladders Drones division of
“This is a groundbreaking career pathway program that we’re honored to be a part of,” Barry Brennan of Flying Lion shared. “The Friendship Foundation is truly innovative by using their own Friendship Campus construction site as an outdoor on-the-job training classroom.”
3.25-acre Friendship Campus for Postsecondary Training and MoreThe 3.25-acre state-of-the-art education and vocational Campus will revolutionize postsecondary training for young adults on the autism spectrum or other intellectual or physical differences. Almost 200,000 students are enrolled in special education in Los Angeles County alone and 8 in 10 Americans with disabilities are unemployed. By serving the whole individual and working with each student to fulfill his or her potential, the Campus will focus on 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 with corporate partnerships for work placement. Digital media such as animation creation, graphic design, coding, game design; visual arts such as painting, photography, filmmaking; craftwork; and music such as songwriting, audio production and music mixing are planned. A Friendship Café and Teaching Kitchen will give students hands-on learning experience for training in hospitality and culinary industry careers. And the Kinecta Financial Empowerment Academy will introduce life-skills financial literacy to use daily and as individuals gaining independence in society and working towards employment in finance and banking. The 64,000 square foot Friendship Campus, The Greenberg Family/Skechers Center, is expected to be completed in 2025 and cost $55 million.
The Friendship Campus is being funded privately with generous donations from Founding Donor Greenberg Family/Skechers; Legacy Donors The Ramesh & Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, Harris & Linda Toibb, Mike & Rose Kaplan, Charlie & Jo Ann Kaplan; Founders Circle Donors Ted & Claudette Schwartz and Yosef & Chana Malka Gorowitz; and Visionary Donors Joe & Fay Czyzyk, Margaret & Captain Joe Lee Frank, Jon & Nicole Hirschberg, Dr. Miriam & Dr. Ben Landau; Alan Sandler, Paul & Georgia Solomon, Mike & Ellen Rosenberg, Peter & Vicki Pellerito, The Eisner Foundation, Windsong Trust, John Gogian Foundation, Kinecta Federal Credit Union, Chevron, among many others. To see a full list of donors, participate or learn more, please visit Friendship Campus or email CampusInfo@friendshipfoundation.com.
About Friendship FoundationThe Friendship Foundation is dedicated to building an integrated, accepting and unified community for our children and young adults. It was founded over 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 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/.