Two Peninsula nonprofits merge in an effort to effectively serve individuals with disabilities

New union between Palo Alto-based Abilities United and Gatepath aims to save costs, expand coverage area

Palo Alto-based Abilities United and Gatepath in Redwood City, two nonprofits serving people with disabilities, have finalized their merging agreement that went into effect on Monday. The move is expected to save costs, improve their position for grants and expand their service area across two counties.

"This strategic alliance will better position us to continue investing in our incredible staff and the quality programs we deliver to the families, children and adults we serve," Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider said in a press release.

"In all ways, we are better together, and stronger against the impact of an ever changing political landscape and economy."

As of July 1, both organizations are affiliates that aim to address various factors including reducing their administrative and payroll costs, attracting more grants to fund the organization and becoming the largest provider of services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the Peninsula.

A joint marketing team will look into re-naming the combined organizations in 2020, according to Abilities United's board of directors President Jenn Wagstaff-Hinton.

The merger, first announced in February, also benefits low-earning staff who would've made more money working at a Peet's Coffee shop, according to Wagstaff-Hinton.

"For the first time, in my six years of board service, we've been able to actually improve benefits and compensation to our employees," Wagstaff-Hinton said.

Services for both organizations will continue as normal, but Wagstaff-Hinton said that Abilities United will dial back its aquatics and after-school programs.

Abilities earned $5.3 million and had a $222,057 deficit in the 2017-18 fiscal year that ended in June 2018, according to its IRS Form 990 filing. In the same fiscal year, Gatepath had total revenue of $15.6 million and a $566,789 deficit.

Abilities United, founded in 1963 by 12 Palo Alto families whose children had intellectual disabilities, serves a diverse group of individuals in the Bay Area who have developmental and physical disabilities or are at risk of a developmental delay.

Recently, Abilities United's CEO Charlie Weidanz left the organization to become the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce's new CEO.

Larger nonprofit Gatepath has provided educational, therapeutic, vocational and family support services to individuals with special needs and developmental disabilities for the past 99 years.

Both organizations will continue to serve the public out of their 13 program sites across the Peninsula. The future of Abilities United's headquarters at 525 E. Charleston Road is uncertain, as the nonprofit's lease on the property with Santa Clara County expires in four years, according to Wagstaff-Hinton.

But despite this, Wagstaff-Hinton still believes the merger will only bring a bright future with the 150 years of experience between both nonprofits, which she believes will improve their efficiency to help those in need.

"We're just so excited to be planning now for the next 100 years together," she said.

Wagstaff-Hinton said both organizations hope to keep the community informed about any changes and activities rolling out through a joint newsletter.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Christian Trujano is a former intern for the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online.

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Like this comment
Posted by Scb
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 2, 2019 at 3:12 pm

What are the services they provide for people with disabilities? Thank you.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2019 at 10:07 am

>> Services for both organizations will continue as normal, but Wagstaff-Hinton said that Abilities United will dial back its aquatics and after-school programs.

I would like to hear more about the changes to the aquatics program. "dial back" doesn't sound promising.

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