The Tierra del Sol Foundation was founded in Sunland, CA, in 1971. Originally conceived by parents as an alternative to institutional care, Tierra began as an early demonstration of self-advocacy. The founding parents were determined to raise their sons and daughters as permanent members of their families, rather than abandon them to the State. The notion was simple; all people have gifts, and our community is richer when all our citizens are valued for their contributions. We have never lost these important principles.
Tierra’s first two decades were marked by educational training, fitness activities, artistic endeavors and social skill acquisition for the people we served. Family members supported Tierra by volunteering in classes, providing transportation, performing clerical duties and more, to ensure that the learning programs succeeded.
In the 90s, Tierra began pushing perimeters. Tierra shifted its model of service to integrated workforce development. Tierra identified volunteerism and paid employment as a way of expanding our clients’ potential to obtain meaningful employment. More than 25 years later, different industries and businesses have recognized the value of Tierra workers in many areas, such as clerical, retail, janitorial and assembly work and Tierra remains a leader in advancing productive community citizenship. Our partnerships with local employers continued to grow.
In the early 2000s, Tierra continued its track of innovation and personalized services. Through embracing the utilization of the PATH (Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope) model, Tierra services began to focus on individual career identification for those we serve.
In 2007, Tierra launched our College to Career model, NEXUS, in order for young adults with developmental disabilities, including autism, to experience success in higher education.
Over the years, it has become clear that Tierra is not a place, rather it is a dynamic organization that empowers people with developmental disabilities to achieve excellence through Workforce Development, College to Career, and Careers in the Arts.