2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Finalist
In the early 1990s, Frank Lento’s daughter, Kate, was diagnosed with a disorder doctors did not fully understand – autism. Frank and his wife, Jennifer, felt as though their daughter’s future had been taken away. Rather than give up on his daughter, Frank undertook the momentous task of creating an alternative school, the Institute for Educational Achievement (IEA), for Kate and other children with similar diagnoses. With the support of other families of autistic children, Frank rented space to house the school, secured schoolroom equipment and raised funds to serve an initial enrollment of six students in 1996. Now, the school is in a permanent 14,000 sq. foot facility in New Milford, New Jersey that provides education programs to 35 students a year.
Over the past twenty years, Frank has remained intimately connected to IEA. In addition to serving on its Board of Directors until 2014, Frank consistently donates his time to the Finance Committee and has co-chaired the school’s annual golf outing every year since its founding. Frank also chaired the school’s first major capital campaign, raising $3 million dollars to construct its current facility in 2001. Most recently, Frank helped IEA purchase an adjacent property for its Adult Life Skills Program, which provides continued support and skill development for autistic adults. For Frank, however, his biggest success comes down to the students they serve; IEA creates an environment where they can thrive and succeed, both in the classroom and beyond.