MOULTONBOROUGH — The Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund, Inc. has gifted $350,000 to the University of New Hampshire, to establish the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Leadership Training Fund. It will be administered by the UNH Institute on Disability, to benefit the New Hampshire Leadership Series, and will be distributed over the next 10-15 years for programmatic and scholarship support.

The New Hampshire Leadership Series, now in its 31st year and close to 1,000 graduates strong, provides education and training that helps to improve policies and practices related to health, academic, employment, social, community and civic outcomes for individuals with disabilities and their families across the state. Attendees are eligible for nine college credits and receive nonpartisan, state-of-the-art information and strategies to effectively create sustainable change. Every year, 35 new leaders are trained in the history of the disability movement, inclusive education, employment, assistive technology, creating a vision and carrying it out through fieldwork and personal, action-designed goal setting, and understanding how to use community organizing and the legislative process to create change.  

The newly established Annie Forts Up Syndrome Leadership Training Fund will ensure individuals with disabilities, their families, and allies of the disability movement receive the tools and support needed to continue carrying out Forts’ legacy. Specifically, the fund will benefit Leadership Series applicants who have Down syndrome, applicants who are family members of an individual with Down syndrome, applicants pursuing higher education in the field of special education or rehabilitation, and applicants who are committed to advocating for individuals with disabilities. 

In recognition of the establishment of the fund, the Institute on Disability will rename the New Hampshire Leadership Series 'Good Life' session the 'Annie Forts Good Life Session,' and annually honor a current or past graduate of the New Hampshire Leadership Series who represents Forts’ legacy with recognition bearing her name.

The Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund, Inc. was established by the Moultonborough Lions Club in March 1997. 

The current board of directors of the Up Fund and the Forts Family want to pass on their sincerest thanks to all past members of the board, everyone who has donated to the fund and everyone who has helped raise funds to help carry on Annie Forts’ legacy. Forts passed away in May 2016. In March 2017, the board of directors of the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund, Inc. organized a 50th birthday celebration in her memory. With this gift to the UNH Institute on Disability, the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund, Inc. will dissolve.

Forts' legacy will continue through the newly established leadership fund. The Annie Forts Up Syndrome Fund, Inc. is no longer accepting donations, but memorial donation to the scholarship fun can be made by visiting iod.unh.edu/give, or sending a tax-deductible donation, payable to the Annie Forts Up Syndrome Leadership Training Fund, to Institute on Disability, 10 West Edge Drive, Suite 101, Durham, NH 03824. 

To apply for the New Hampshire Leadership Training Series, call 603-228-2084, or visit iod.unh.edu.

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