Mary Lee School opened its doors in 1963 in a modest 2-bedroom home in South Austin.  The beginning was indeed humble: four girls, one full-time house parent/teacher, and Charlene Crump.  But, the chemistry was there for success- needs for services, good fortune, genuine care and concern for the residents, and undeniable determination.

The Mary Lee Foundation had its beginnings during Charlene Crump’s childhood when her parents worked at Marbridge Ranch, a program for adults with intellectual disabilities in Austin.  This later influenced Charlene to innovate community-based living for the disabled in 1963 when she opened a group home off of South Lamar for 4 girls with intellectual disabilities.

Since that time the Foundation has come to own and occupy a city block of property on Lamar Square Drive known as “The Square” that includes:

  • 13 apartment buildings which house:
    • Licensed programs for adults with developmental and intellectually disabilities
    • Licensed inpatient and outpatient treatment for adult survivors of brain injury or other neurological disorders
    • 215 low income apartments
    • Administrative office
    • Onsite Food Pantry
    • Onsite case managers for clients not served by licensed programs
  • A community building
  • Onsite beginner computer, art and tai chi classes
  • Access to jobs, shopping, medication services through geographic location
  • Low cost office space for 501(c)(3) organizations compatible with the Foundation’s goals


SP Getting Manicures
Licensed programs for the intellectually disabled and brain injured use 45 apartments on The Square, 193 are reserved for near homeless/low income clients and 22 are reserved for low income clients age 62 and older.  Many of these apartments are wheel chair accessible and others are adapted for vision and hearing loss as needed.  Utility and apartment deposits are waived for disabled persons graduating from the Foundation’s licensed programs and who want to remain on The Square.  Approximately 350 clients are served annually through housing and/or services on The Square.

Southpointe ClientThe Square provides homes in a “close in” real neighborhood for a very diverse community that is committed to helping its clients maximize independence, productivity and sense of self worth as they socially integrate and contribute to the community in which they live.

The Mary Lee Foundation has provided services throughout the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and into the new millennium to persons with special needs.  These include:

1. Mental health programs for both children and adults
2. Services for intellectually disabled adults
3. Services for adult survivors of brain injury (Residential and long term)
4. Competitive and Sheltered employment services
5. Residential (i.e. 24 hour) services offered to all disabled people
6. Day Habilitation services
7. Affordable housing services to homeless, near homeless, low-income and disabled persons
8. Co-op services as a lesser restrictive alternative for disabled persons who are approaching independent functioning
9. Long-term care for adult survivors of brain injury and other disabilities
10. Low rent to several non-profit agencies
11. Home & Community Services program
12. Texas Home Living program


Success has been evident on two levels; facility growth and client growth.  The facilities and services have expanded and multiplied over five decades.  The real success, however, is found in the thousands of stories of people who have grown toward maximizing their independence, productivity, and sense of self worth through their experiences with Mary Lee Foundation.  An incredible success story with no end in site.  1963 – 2016, 53 years of continuous dedication, drive and love.

The Mary Lee Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and complies with the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.  People who are eligible to participate in the programs at the Mary Lee Foundation are not discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or political belief.

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