Academy Accomplishment 2019

Greetings to the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation Family!

As this year 2019 is soon coming to a close and the new year is about to begin, we want to look back over the year at some accomplishments of the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation that benefited the special needs community. And, we of course look forward to celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2020!

We must, as always, begin by thanking all of our friends and family who has helped us to achieve our mission, particularly the many volunteers who generously donate their time and efforts to support the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation.

And, of course, we especially give our sincere thanks to those individuals and businesses who have made financial contributions, either in cash or in-kind, to help achieve our mission to increase public awareness, recognition and appreciation of the creative talents of people with disabilities by providing opportunities that encourage, promote and showcase their artistic expressions, with special thanks to Woo Education Foundation, Helen Woo, Maru Pombo, Haydel Biel & Associates and the Barajas family for their past support. This year we recognize City National Bank for its generous financial support and our champions at the bank, Robert Villaseñor and Gil Flores, for their advice and guidance.

First and foremost, our primary mission is to bring awareness to artists with disabilities by showcasing their artistic talents on our website, “”. Now with more than 200 artists in residence, we continue to increase our online collection of paintings, short film, photographs, creative writing, and other works of art by artists with disabilities that we feature on our website. These “virtual” galleries offer to anyone with an internet connection a unique and personal look at the creative talent that exists within the special needs community not only in the United States but also worldwide. For example, Thiago Santos Fernandes, an autistic 15-year-old Brazilian artist, has been drawing since he was a child and loves to draw characters from animations, games, series, youtubers, artistic personalities, politicians, and the people he lives with. Similarly, Ramit Chopra, a young artist living in India, has been facing a disability in his left hand since he was a toddler but has found solace in his love for computer graphic paintings.

Another core program of the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation is our direct cash assistance for artists with disabilities and transitions programs who are either pursuing their studies in art or advancing their careers in art. Thanks to the generosity of our many individual contributors like you, we continue to donate college scholarships to support young aspiring artists such as Lauren Stein, who studies the movement of the body in expressing the feelings, and Wynter Malone, who aspires to be professional animator, as they begin their college careers, as well as Brandon Heusel, a first-year college student at Colorado State University living with intellectual disabilities whose dream is to become an Engineer because of his love of designing art pieces with metals. We also provide working artists grants to deserving artists such as Annie Young and Basilio Alonzo and microbusiness sponsorships to programs and institutions such as Alhambra Unified School District’s LIFT North and LIFT South (Learning Independence for Transitions) programs, the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability and the Sonryee School (a non-profit organization in Oaxaca, Mexico supporting the very low income community with disabilities).

In addition to hosting “virtual galleries” for our Artists in Residence and providing college scholarships and working artists grants, the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation once again collaborated with the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability to bring the month-long 12th Annual Disability Art Exhibition to the Third Floor Bridge Gallery in Los Angeles City Hall. Honored by the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability with a certificate of appreciation, we were proud to sponsor 17 of our Artists in Residence whose works of art and photographs were an integral part of the Disability Art Exhibition, including one special artist, Maru Pombo, who traveled with her family from Oaxaca, Mexico to attend the Artists Reception.

And, last but not certainly least, the Academy of Special Dreams welcomes its collaboration with the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce as we celebrate this month the dedication of the Academy Art Wall in the lobby of their offices. The Chamber has graciously offered to exhibit selected original works of Art at its offices on an ongoing basis by providing dedicated wall space in its office lobby so that all who visit the offices will be able to appreciate the artistic expressions of the special needs community. We praise the commitment of the Chamber to helping us further our mission.

We continue to build on our past accomplishments and look forward to reaching many goals in the year 2020 as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. We will award more college scholarships for young artists who seek to further their studies in Art in addition to cash grants for working artists with disabilities. Furthermore, the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation next year will seek collaborations with galleries and museums internationally to bring the mission of Inclusion and awareness through art exhibitions in collaboration with artists from Mexico and other countries. Moreover, we wish to continue our commitment to bring public awareness and more resources to our Artists with Disabilities and senior citizens living in Mexico.

To make all this possible, we need your support! Your dedication and generosity have been and continue to be invaluable in furthering the mission of the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation to increase public awareness, recognition, and appreciation of the creative talents of people with disabilities by providing opportunities to many artists in your community.

Please consider making a difference in the lives of artists with disabilities by mailing a check payable to the “Academy of Special Dreams Foundation” to 115 W. California Blvd # 326, Pasadena, California 91105. To give by credit card, please go directly to our website “” and click on the “Donate Now” link. The Academy of Special Dreams Foundation is a tax-exempt IRC 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, and as such, all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.


Thank you on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Academy of Special Dreams Foundation, Michael Dergar, President/CEO, Kathleen Doyle, Advisory Board, Wendy Osawa, Community Board Member, and Elizabeth Woo, Co-Founder.




Jerry Ruiz

Director of Administration

(323) 253-7380

Share this page

Related content


Be part of Special Academy

Your support of the special needs community helps increase public awareness,
recognition and appreciation of the creative talents of people with disabilities by providing
opportunities to many Artists in your community.