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.
Success has been evident on two levels; facility growth and client growth. The facilities and services have expanded and multiplied over many 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 sight.
Charlene Crump opened Mary Lee School in February 1963.
A pioneering force of the larger national conversation, Charlene Crump set out to establish the first residential facility in Texas for girls with IDD. The Mary Lee Foundation began in 1963 as Mary Lee School of Special Education (Mary is Crump’s first name, and Lee is her, now ex-, husband’s middle name), a low-budget residential program in a rented two-bedroom home in south Austin. Founder Crump and assistant Leona Winston provided around-the-clock care and education to four girls, equipping them with the skills to care for themselves and earn a living. Though employers were initially hesitant to take them on board, all four girls eventually found jobs and gained a level of independence that would have been nearly unattainable before their training at Mary Lee School. Within three months, Crump opened a second unit next door to the original schoolhouse, boosting enrollment to thirteen students.
By 1966, Mary Lee School had an enrollment of 31 students in three buildings.
In 1969, the Texas Rehabilitation Commission approved Mary Lee for a study to determine if women could be de-institutionalized and become socially and vocationally independent. From the
Mary Lee School celebrates its ten year anniversary in February 1973.
In 1974, Mary Lee School purchased apartment buildings on Lamar Square Drive in order to provide sheltered living facilities for adults with disabilities.
The Southpointe facilities, licensed Intermediate Care Facilities
When the Austin Zilker Neighborhood Association organized in 1981, Mary Lee Foundation employees began attending their meetings. The foundation continues to maintain great relationships with the neighborhood association, other local property owners, and local business owners.
Southpointe was established, first as a co-op program for adults with disabilities. The original co-op apartment buildings are now used for our transitional living program.
In September 1984, Mary Lee Foundation was awarded a federal block grant to start a new employment program for people with disabilities.
In 1985, Mary Lee Foundation received a grant from the Lola Wright Foundation to purchase new recreation equipment for all its children’s facilities.
In 1988, Mary Lee Foundation finished its community center, which now holds the Daybreak Activity Center program for adults with special needs.
In 1997, Mary Lee Foundation opened
Charlene Crump, MLF founder
Chip Howe received the Brain Injury Association of America‘s National Leadership Award in 2006.
Chip Howe received the City of Austin’s Distinguished Service Award in 2006.
In 2011, The Willows apartment building was erected, adding more than fifty affordable apartments to the square.
The Legacy apartment building was constructed and unveiled in 2013. This building received a four-star energy rating and added more than forty affordable apartments to the square.