To provide residential, employment, support, referral, and advocacy services to individuals with disabilities and people with similar service needs to assist them in exercising their human rights as citizens and contributing members of society.
Marrakech, Inc. was founded in 1971. It was the brainchild of two young Yale undergraduates, our founders, Susan Waisbren and Francie Brody. But Marrakech began even before the two decided that New Haven needed a halfway house for young women with intellectual disabilities and even before they had crystallized their belief that any individual with a disability who had a desire to live in the community also had that right.
It really began with a young woman named Valerie Chain. Susan had met Valerie through Yale Big Brothers/Big Sisters and the New Haven Regional Center that has long since closed. Susan and Francie came to know Valerie's friends as well. They soon realized how capable these young women with mild intellectual disabilities were, and how they would thrive in a halfway house, which at that time, did not exist in Connecticut. Susan and Francie were unencumbered by any foreknowledge of the frustration and bureaucracy they would be facing. They thought it was simple: New Haven needed a halfway house and they would start one. With the guidance of the Regional Center staff and Dr. Seymour Sarason of the Yale Psycho-Educational Clinic, they did just that.
Today, Marrakech continues to empower people to achieve a better quality of life. Our caring, inclusive and supportive team serves over 1300 individuals each year throughout Connecticut. Marrakech is a diverse nonprofit organization that has been providing person-centered, unique, and cost effective human services for children and adults with and without disabilities in Connecticut for over 45 years. They are our neighbors with disabilities, our children transitioning to adulthood, our friends battling with addiction, homelessness, and mental illness, and our community members who need to acquire skills to find a job or make ends meet. We do this by providing homes, building skills, supporting families and helping people reach their potential. The services provided and individuals we support are diverse. But, there is a common goal: assist individuals with achieving greater self-sufficiency while they experience the best quality of life possible.
Successes in 2016
1. Marrakech has been successful in expanding our social enterprises with the development of our East Street Arts (ESA) center in New Haven. ESA is providing arts-based employment opportunities to people of all abilities. We have obtained small grants to assist us with this development. Since it’s opening in 2015, ESA was prominently featured at the Big E in the Connecticut tent, has created an Etsy site for online shopping, developed open studio hours for local artists as well as “wine and design” nights for the community. In 2016, East Street Arts was named as one of five Creative Communicators by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven.
2. Marrakech has made progress with our efforts toward marketing and branding. 2016 was our 45th anniversary year. We had a special logo created, had professional press releases drafted and sent for us, built a two-week radio campaign that led up to Giving Tuesday and produced a new video that was shared at our annual Gala as well as through social media.
3. Marrakech board approved a board-designated endowment fund to be managed by the CFGNH. This is one more step toward reducing our reliance on state funding in the future.
4. We have successfully expanded our person-centered philosophy and have started to shift the organizational culture as a result. Language, policies, and applications have been changed to reflect a more person-centered approach. Two of our staff have been trained as trainers in Person-Centered approaches, and all staff are required to go through a new person-centered training. We have also developed training that can be purchased by other organizations who do not have trainers on staff.
5. Our technology upgrade is almost complete, with a move to cloud-based file storage and Office 365. We have also identified a new HR/Payroll system that will allow for more stream-lined process entry and employee-level control of data.
2. Establish our newly approved board-designated endowment fund with the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and start building toward a future with less reliance on state funding.
3 Apply and receive funding for various capital improvement projects on identified buildings to increase energy efficiency as well as accessibility for the people we support.
4. Develop a culture of accountability across the organization and improve upon current quality assurance systems.
5. Increase the credentials of our staff and the leadership skills of our management team.
Top 5 Pressing Needs
1. We need to complete our technology upgrades and continue our shift toward 100% electronic documentation as well as satellite training options.
2. We need to reduce our dependence on state funding so that we may expand services at a reasonable cost, have ongoing support for unfunded or underfunded quality of life initiatives, and provide our staff with cost of living adjustments or other incentives that aid with staff retention even when not provided in state contracts.
3. We need to develop funds to improve the accessibility, energy efficiency, appearance and overall functioning of several of our buildings, which has not been possible due to stagnant or reduced state budgets over the last few years.
4. In an environment when we are being asked to do more with less, staff and management accountability is needed more than ever. We need to shift our organizational culture to one of accountability, quality assurance, and continuous quality improvement.
5. We need to create depth on the bench and assist our staff with professional development opportunities that will increase credentials, professionalism, and leadership skills at all levels.
Marrakech has been providing person centered, unique, and cost conscious human services for children and adults, with and without disabilities, in Connecticut for over 45 years.
I have been working at Marrakech for the past 30 years. In July 2014, I was honored to be appointed the President and CEO of this remarkable organization.
I lived the transformation that Marrakech made from a small, mission focused organization, supporting adults with developmental disabilities and/or mental illness in the community to one of the largest, most diverse, non-profit organizations in Connecticut, with an expanded mission. Our caring, inclusive and supportive team serves over 1,300 people a year. They are our neighbors with disabilities, our children who need homes, our friends battling with addiction, homelessness, and mental illness, and our community members who need to acquire skills to find a job or make ends meet.
We do this by providing homes, building skills, supporting families and helping people reach their potential. The result: stronger communities.
We are thankful to be able to call upon our community and corporate partners who share our vision for collaboration, the pooling of resources, job placement, mentorship opportunities and for donations. We also work closely with our State Partners in developing cost effective solutions.
Balancing mission and financial limitations, which have been growing fast for the past several years, is truly a challenge that we creatively attack on a daily basis.
Empowering people does not start and stop with the individuals we provide supports to, we consciously support our own (900) staff in career development, home ownership, education and training which also in turn builds our communities.
It is tremendously satisfying to work for our consumers, our staff and other stakeholders and ultimately for our community at large.
President and CEO
It is my honor and privilege to be the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Marrakech. As someone who spends his working time on for-profit activities, it is always a breath of fresh air to interact with the Marrakech staff and consumers. The Marrakech management team and employees have dedicated their careers to helping others and they do in such a spirited fashion that it is always an invigorating experience.
I became interested in Marrakech because I have a daughter with an intellectual disability. I began to learn about the organization, meet the staff and consumers, and very quickly realized that Marrakech is a very special organization. It takes a special kind of person to work with people that have special needs. And it takes a really special kind of person to do this year after year as a career. One of the remarkable characteristics of Marrakech is the number of individuals that have long-service tenure with Marrakech. These individuals are honored each year and I am always amazed at the number of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and even 30-year employees. These are truly special individuals and I am proud to be associated with them.
We have an all-volunteer Board at Marrakech. Board members include professionals from various disciplines as well as parents and family members of Marrakech consumers.
From a governance perspective, most Board members serve on committees that oversee areas including Finance, Strategic Planning,Development, and Board Membership. The Finance Committee reviews financial statements every other month, drills down into key financial topics with the executive team, and oversees executive compensation. Progress on Strategic Planning and Development goals and objectives are reviewed at every Board Meeting. The Nominating Committee oversees Board Membership and attempts to find Board Members that meet the goals set by the Strategic Planning Committee for Board composition.
The Board works very closely with the CEO of Marrakech, Heather LaTorra, and other executive staff. I know I speak for the entire Board when I say that we are very lucky to have an executive of such high integrity and competence.
Once a youth has successfully completed an internship, he or she may begin to look for community employment. In order to be referred to this phase of service, the youth must demonstrate the skills and ability to work independently in the community (mastery of life skills, good communication and vocational skills, transportation plan, etc.). The youth will work with the job developer to find employment.
In 2017, the program received $20,000 in grants from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to support youth transitioning from foster care services. The first grant will provide youth in foster care $10,000 towards matching funds for education, housing, health care, and transportation. The second $10,000 grant was awarded for financial coaching integration as part of the program structure.
To establish more traditional and non-traditional living arrangements in order to provide services to more individuals in need and to maximize community and agency resources to increase the number of holiday/special event functions that will decrease the social isolation of consumers.
First agency in state of Connecticut to provide new waiver service, Shared Living.
ABI department provides services to individuals who qualify for the Connecticut
ABI waiver I and II under Title 19. Services provided include pre-vocational skills, independent living
skills training (ILST), supported employment, companion
services, respite services, Recovery Assistant, family training and community living support
services. Service plans are
individualized to the persons being served and may range from a few hours per
week to 24/7 support. Marrakech does not
maintain a waitlist for services. However,
there is typically a short period of time between point of referral and start
of services while we identify and hire qualified staff or while housing is
being located. Services are available statewide.
Programs Provided by Marrakech, Inc.
Acquired Brain Injury Services
Children and Youth Services
Community-Based Life Skills Program
Community Experience Program
Family Supports and Respite Services
Group Homes (ICF and CLA)
Independent Living Support Services (CSS and SLS)
Outreach and Engagement Case Management Services
Personal Care Assistance Services
Supported Employment Program
SHP Vocational Services
Taking Initiative Center
Vocational Rehabilitation Program
Young Adult Services
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
A strong community not only meets its members’ basic needs but also works to create long-term solutions to their problems. Provide people with affordable housing, enough to eat and access to affordable health care and you enable them to envision a better future for themselves.
A strong economy begins with a community that supports its people. When you support workforce training, financial literacy and public transportation, you enable individuals and families to work where they live, increasing their chances of economic success.
A healthy community is a rich community. When we enjoy good health, when we engage in wellness activities – and when we support people living with disease or disabilities -- there are profound physical and psychological benefits. Simply put, we are all stronger and happier. To support the health and wellness initiatives in your community is to put good health within reach of all.
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