The Giving Tree

The Giving Tree Annual Fund

The Giving Tree North Florida School of Special Education
Student Crowdfunding

You make North Florida School of Special Education’s (NFSSE) exceptional programs possible. The Annual Giving Tree Fund is NFSSE’s most important giving priority. Your participation is critical and reflects your belief in all that happens here.

The Giving Tree effort seeks to raise $750,000 and we are inviting all NFSSE families and community members to participate. Campaign gifts and pledge payments are due by May 31, 2024. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

The Giving Tree Fund is an essential part of our annual operating budget. Everything we do is focused on discovering and fostering each student’s unique abilities to reveal their highest potential. All funds raised through the Giving Tree will touch every part of the NFSSE experience.

Giving Tree gifts, large and small, provide the enhanced resources and programs that make each student’s education unique and powerful. And now, you can direct your gift to a particular area of NFSSE through the Giving Tree’s Family of Funds.

Family of Funds

Annual support of the Giving Tree Fund demonstrates the loyalty, commitment, and generous spirit of our North Florida School of Education community. To honor the interests of our donors, we have created the Giving Tree Family of Funds. Through these Funds, Giving Tree donors may choose to direct their annual giving donation to a particular area of the school’s operations that they find most personally meaningful.

The Giving Tree Family of Funds supports our students and faculty through the school’s operating budget. Should designated contributions exceed a fund’s budgeted limit, the school will direct the funds to the Area of Greatest Need. To be a part of the Giving Tree, you may submit a pledge, make a donation online, give us a call at 904-724-8323, or email Emily Knight-Smith  at

Area of Greatest Need

When you direct funds to the Area of Greatest Need, your donation supports critical areas of the school’s operating budget and directly benefits our programs, resources, and faculty ensuring NFSSE’s continued excellence in its service to students and their families.

Academics, Resources and Therapies

These gifts provide the foundation for our premier learning environment.
This Fund supports our research-based curriculum as well as opportunities for our exceptional staff to expand their knowledge and professional development. Teachers combine hands-on academics and classroom instruction through:

  • Independent living skills instruction
  • Social skills instruction
  • Art
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Physical Therapy

Enterprise and Vocational Training

By developing small businesses with big heart at NFSSE, students can receive vocational training and job coaching through real life work experience on campus, at local businesses, and with community organizations. These opportunities help students understand the importance of professionalism, independent living, and appropriate social interaction.

Our goal is to provide quality products and services for the community while coaching our transition students and postgraduates, who continue to strive for independence and productivity.

Employment opportunities through enterprise include:

  • Berry Good Farms
  • Art With Soul
  • Culinary Arts
  • Barkin’ Biscuits & Pet Bakery
  • Project S.A.D.D.L.E. Equine Employment
  • Berry Good Blooms

Equine Therapy

Gifts directed to our equestrian program will support our new equine therapy and therapeutic horseback riding programs at the state-of-the-art Delores Barr Weaver Therapeutic Equestrian Center. For students and individuals with intellectual and developmental differences, interacting with horses is beneficial on multiple levels.

Therapeutic riding involves many equine-assisted activities. Riding, grooming and leading horses make a positive impact on the physical, cognitive, emotional and social development of those with intellectual and developmental differences. Lessons are adapted to the student’s specific need, whether for improving fine motor skills, gross motor skills, coordination, core strengthening, social
skills or positive stimulation.

The Scott Bledsoe Memorial Scholarship Fund

Students who embody the tenderness and compassion that former staff member, Scott Bledsoe, infused into every role he played at NFSSE benefit from gifts directed to this fund. Scott passed away in 2015 and the Scholarship Fund was established to celebrate the love that Scott poured into the lives of our students.