Serving people with developmental disabilities since 1904

History of St. Coletta of Wisconsin

1904 – A family approached Father George Meyer about accepting their developmentally disabled daughter as a student. In September, four pupils arrived at St. Coletta. By December, the enrollment grew to ten pupils, including boys.

1931 – The St. Coletta Institute for Backward Youth was incorporated under a new title. “St. Coletta School for Exceptional Children”. This title was chosen out of consideration for parents and family members; also for the residents, one of whom remarked, “We don’t walk backward”.

1948 – Serra Home was built and named in honor of a Franciscan missionary to the early California territory, Father J. Serra.  Serra House was a facility built to allow parents to reside on the St. Coletta property and visit their children

1963 – The First International Awards for Achievement in the field of Mental Retardation, sponsored by the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation, was attended by Sr. M. Anastasia and Sr. Mary Theodore.

1965 – The St. Coletta Habilitation Program was initiated to encourage young adults with mental retardation to become successful community members.

1976 – The passing of Public Law 94-142 guaranteed a free, appropriate education in the least restrictive environment; non-discriminatory assessment prior to placement; the formulation of an individualized education plan for all persons placed in special education, and the right of parents to due process with respect to placement.

1983 – The Kennedy Family announced a gift in honor of Mrs. Rose Kennedy’s 93rd birthday, to facilitate a program that would serve as a national model for aging persons with mental retardation.

1991 – Illinois Friends for St. Coletta-Wisconsin is established.

1995 – Individuals served by Coletta move out of a group home and into their own apartments, beginning a new chapter in the history of St. Coletta’s programs in Madison.

1998 – The first home is opened in Waukesha. A few years later, the program grows to five homes.

2001 – St. Coletta expands into northern Illinois with the purchase of homes in Arlington Heights and Palatine.

2002 – Development of Clare Country Estates begins. This is a fully integrated neighborhood utilizing existing land resources.

2008 – Illinois homes grow to ten.

2009 – The Alverno program closes. The final clients transition to their new home, the recently completed Dower Home in Clare Country Estates.

2011 – The Alverno building has been newly renovated to become St. Coletta’s new corporate headquarters. In addition to housing our administrator staff, our Excel and Golden Options day programs are held in this buildings as well.

2015 – St. Coletta prepares to open a new day program called, “Genesis” to bridge the gap between students graduating public school and discovery what comes next. Genesis opens with their pilot program with 7 students looking to build their skills and find gainful community employment.
2016 – St. Coletta is named, “Nonprofit of the Year” by the Milwaukee BizTimes
2017 – St. Coletta’s program in Illinois continues to grow with the expansion into day program services.    The new day program “Achieve” opens already 70% full to capacity.