CLEARWATER, FL – Global construction and development firm Skanska recently cut the ribbon on Learning Independence for Tomorrow (LiFT) Academy’s new 58,808-SF school in Clearwater, Florida. Skanska repurposed the former YMCA at 1005 South Highland Avenue, nearly quadrupling the school’s physical capacity to support neurodiverse individuals looking to reach their full potential.
“We love to say we build what matters and LiFT is the proof behind our words,” said Justin Koenen, the project manager leading Skanska’s work at LiFT Academy. “We’ve spent time getting to know the students and this project is much more than a building, it’s an opportunity to help so many individuals have a space to thrive and expand their unique capabilities and we’re proud to play a small part of it all.”
Founded in 2013, LiFT was previously operating out of a 16,000-square-foot space in a local church with only 17 students and has since grown to support 170 students.
Key construction features of LiFT Academy's new Clearwater location include:
- Modern, sensory-friendly facilities designed to meet the unique needs of neurodiverse students. These facilities create a comfortable and welcoming learning environment.
- Intentional design to accommodate common triggers for many students including individual temperature control for each room, lighting controls and separate dimming for each space, and STC rated sound partitions throughout the campus.
- A sensory room equipped with bubble lamps, multiple lighting options, and sensory seating to provide space for student breaks outside of typical class periods.
- Capacity to accommodate up to 400 students over the next four years, allowing the academy to serve an even larger portion of the community and meet the growing demand for specialized education.
The final phases of the project will include a full culinary teaching kitchen and full-service café with the ability to support after-hour community programming, sports and events. The teaching kitchen will also house the “LiFT Your Fork Program” which provides a unique opportunity for students to continue their education beyond a standard high school diploma and learn essential catering skills for a self-sustaining career in the industry.
Recognized as a leader in inclusivity and special education, LiFT is committed to providing exceptional and equal opportunities in school, employment and life experiences for all individuals. To learn more about LiFT Academy and its mission, click here.