The Gifted Learning Project
10 E 135th St. #481551
Kansas City MO 64148-1551
Last Project
Mission Statement
The Gifted Learning Project is a grassroots, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization started by concerned community members that have family or friends with learning challenges.
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Girard Sagmiller
Board Chair Mr. Girard John Sagmiller
Board Chair Company Affiliation Cedar Crest Financial
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1999
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Mission Statement The Gifted Learning Project is a grassroots, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization started by concerned community members that have family or friends with learning challenges.
Background Statement
The Gifted Learning Project was started by family members of those affected by special needs. Due to ample requests and much needed support and peer mentorship, the organization continues to grow rapidly. Over 1,000 materials are sent out to families each year, along with thousands of downloads of online material. We average 750 emails a month, each handled personally. There remains a huge need to share ideas and gain support in order to make a significant difference for the people and families we serve. Many disability agencies we collaborate with find that we provide resources that are complementary; for instance, the garden-able project was done, used, and duplicated by many. Those in the field may not have expertise in gardening, but are able to use the resources we provide as learning tools. Our volunteer team of master gardeners saw the dire need in our community and took action to create a resource with rent-free land as well as affordable, upcycled items. Our projects are launched by community members that see the need and are inspired to make a difference. These community members devise a plan and approach our organization to set it into action. We are successful due to strong family and grassroots community involvement.
Impact Statement

We donated essential resources such as computers to families, schools, libraries, and educators in need. We donated $20,000 in learning software that we received from area businesses and community members. We planted and cared for a donated plot of land in order to create an adapted garden demonstration for others to copy, focusing on unique solutions for adapted gardening. Over 500 seniors with memory loss and mobility challenges have visited the site. This garden-able project has a high duplication rate, with master gardeners, assisted living centers, schools, and non-profits implementing our ideas and adaptive structures and creating their own gardens. This is the highest compliment! We received another small grant which was put to funding a second PBS documentary about the abilities and disabilities of people with Down syndrome. This documentary released in 2016. Additionally, we have increased our global reach by means of social networking sites like Pinterest to share our innovative, adapted structures freely. Our innovations have been featured in the Organic Valley Cooperative blog. 

We would like to broaden our pool of speakers and cover expenses for seven to ten speakers who give on average 110 presentations and speeches annually pro bono. We are organizing a conference for educators, parents, and those with special needs to share and network great ideas for our diverse group of community volunteers.With shrinking support for special needs, the burn out rate for these precious caregivers is high. We would like to publish and give awards to caregivers and educators with the "best practices awards" in order to highlight and encourage innovation.
We continue to save rare seeds for tribes wanting to secure an adequate seed bank. We grow sacred corn in collaboration with White Earth Reservation. We do this to provide a learning tool and meaningful work for those with learning challenges. The seeds are ancient tribal heirlooms.
Needs Statement

The most vital need we face is funding. Currently, we are operating under a very tight budget, stretching each dollar to its fullest extent. Every one dollar donated is matched with five dollars in materials and supplies from businesses and community clubs. Our second most pressing need is land around the Kansas City area. In regards to land, we aspire to develop a location where those in assisted living can go to garden and be outside while developing a sense of independence and usefulness. Along with land for gardening, we are also in dire need for seed donations, both for the future garden as well as for use on garden-able. The fourth and fifth need of ours is software and laptop donations. These would be used for assisting in creating, developing and executing online programs as well as shared with families in need with special needs children.

Service Categories
Alliances & Advocacy
Special Education
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
MO - Platte County
KS - Wyandotte County
KS - Johnson County
MO - Eastern Jackson Co
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
We also include First Nations and schools on tribal lands.
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement Every person is born with amazing gifts. For many of us, our gifts are opened early in life, giving us the opportunity to utilize them and make a positive impact on the world around us. However, some people have a harder time opening their gifts, whether that is due to cognitive or physical disabilities. It is the people who struggle to find their gifts and talents that drive the Gifted Learning Project. Our organization thrives because we whole-heartedly believe that the most successful and supportive way of opening gifts is through unwavering hope and a steadfast conviction that each person’s gifts are beautiful. This belief is brought to life by energetic, passionate volunteers who selflessly dedicate their time to revealing the special talents of those we serve. 

When a parent is told that their child has Down syndrome, they typically feel like their world has been turned upside down. Waves of confusion, fear, and doubt leave them yearning for guidance, support, and hope. "Dakota's Pride" is a powerful documentary produced by The Gifted Learning Project as a beacon of light for parents, families, and caregivers of children with Down Syndrome who feel lost in their journeys. This documentary aims to provide all people with a deeper understanding of the inspiring lives of individuals with Down syndrome, while highlighting the positive abilities each individual has instead of dwelling on their disabilities. In "Dakota's Pride", a Kansas City couple reflects on their experience and surprising delights of telling their story of raising a child with Down syndrome. This timeless, insightful documentary was released in 2005 and has continued to serve as a helping hand and enlightening resource for many.  
Category Diseases, Disorders & Medical Disciplines, General/Other Down Syndrome
Population Served General/Unspecified, ,
Short-Term Success

Short term successes include an immediate increase in acceptance of those individuals with Down Syndrome as well a decrease in anxiety for parents of a child with Down Syndrome. For those parents the film helps answer questions like “Where do you go at such a time for answers, especially privately?” The documentary also begins to provide a network of support for parents who have a child with Down Syndrome and are unsure of where to look. Over 100,000 direct emails have come in since the movie aired.

Long-Term Success

10 years after its release, the documentary is still being used by teachers, medical professionals, social workers, and parents to raise awareness about the abilities of those with Down Syndrome. The movie played on all PBS stations and is routinely re-run for public viewing. Through this documentary, we have reached millions of people and sparked much needed conversations about Down Syndrome. We have also had a positive impact on families by providing a network of resources. The DVD is also requested by special education professors to use in classrooms as well as college campuses for awareness weeks. DVD requests are greater than 300 per year.

Program Success Monitored By

The documentary was initiated by our Executive Board Director but was monitored throughout its production and filming by parents and guardians of those with Down Syndrome as well as by medical professionals. Its success was also seen by the massive number of people both within and beyond our community that embraced the film and continue to use it as reference. The documentary has been referenced by physicians as well as caregivers and the Harvard Medical Library.

Examples of Program Success

Dakota's Pride documentary aired nationally on PBS and has re-run because of requests to run the movie. Media production companies liked the project so much they donated the closed captioning and voice-over. In addition, music groups donated the music. Editing and production would have cost $500,000 but our costs were low due to huge support from Kansas City production companies. Another success of the film includes a local theater's screening of the movie followed by a panel discussion which involved advocates and workers from the Arc of Clay County, Head-Start, Freedom Resources, and our organization, The Gifted Learning Project. The documentary won a regional Emmy for its powerful message and execution.


In order to provide a better life for those with cognitive and physical disabilities, we created the Garden-Able project. Garden-Able is an adaptive garden that senior citizens and those in assisted living facilities usually can only dream about. Through Garden-Able, we strive to instill a sense of independence and self-reliance in individuals who have lost that and so much more by the nature of their age or disability. To achieve this, Garden-Able uses adaptive gardening pieces such as raised beds and trellises for plants to grow over. The garden is accessible and large enough for a wheel chair to venture through. In turn, the garden provides senior citizens with exercise, nutrient-dense foods, and bragging rights. The Garden-Able innovative structures are made to delight the senses, and our ideas can be found on Pinterest or Facebook, where we share them freely nationwide.

Category Human Services, General/Other Senior Residential Facilities Programs
Population Served Elderly and/or Disabled, ,
Short-Term Success

Though the program is still young, it has shown much promise with multiple local assisted living centers, Master Gardeners and the media showing interest in Garden-Able. The Garden-Able model has been viewed and tested by different centers and has received both praise and constructive criticism as we continue to grow and develop the program.

Long-Term Success

Different apparatuses and set-ups used in Garden-able will be adapted and implemented by assisted living facilities. This will encourage a sense of belonging and purpose while also building community. Eagle Scouts and 4H'ers have expressed the desire to make some of these structures and help the elders tend the gardens. The long term success will be carried out through these efforts as well as continuing to generate interest by posting ideas on Pinterest and Facebook.

Program Success Monitored By

We monitor the success of the program by assessing the willingness of both the workers and the residents of assisted living communities to adapt similar set-ups for gardening on their own campuses. Local assisted living communities have already shown great interest in implementing some of Garden-Able’s setups.

Examples of Program Success

With so many residents of assisted living facilities who have experience in gardening or farming, many local assisted living communities are excited about the possibility of having an accessible garden setup available. When tours of the garden have been offered, sign up from seniors is strong with 7 car loads coming out to see it and try it out. The media already has published a feature on the Garden-Able project and has had strong interest in the feature. This reflects what we already know, which is that with the appropriate setup and tools, individuals of all ages and abilities can enjoy gardening.


This program provides powerful, intuitive learning software such as educational DVD's, books and resources to over 1,000 new sites yearly. Schools, public libraries, faith based libraries and home libraries use these resources to amp up children's learning and mediate any challenges they may face. Resources are used for reference and provide accessibility around the issues facing special needs individuals. We work with computer software companies to donate educational software which we pass on to the areas of highest need. This collaboration is very powerful and can help children "go outside the four classroom walls." When students are engaged in technology, it gives them ownership and control over their learning. More excitement, less distraction, and greater interactivity are all results of these programs that benefit children nationwide.

Category Education, General/Other Library
Population Served Families, ,
Short-Term Success

Become more confident in one’s ability to learn and achieve higher scores in testing while reducing test-taking anxiety. Encourage those at the bottom line of testing to feel more independent, which opens endless possibilities. The computer software also does not fatigue children by requiring them to repeat steps. The software provides a great resource for special needs children by enabling each child to learn independently at a pace that is tailor made for him or her.

Long-Term Success

To help families learn in a positive surrounding. Many students become more academically proficient in various classes accessed at school or self-driven. There is nothing greater than to get feedback from parents and teachers that a special needs child says "I can do it!" Children attending school in lower income school districts also benefit greatly as they obtain the DVDs or can access and use the resources at library locations.

Program Success Monitored By

School and test scores were used to directly measure growth as well as family satisfaction using both objective and subjective data. Improved memory by 25% was found in testing.

Examples of Program Success

Of the families we surveyed 95% of families were searching for help and had little or no help in existing community. Lower income families had less support and ability to purchase software and computer learning aids. Recommendations from peers and word of mouth have proven to be a valuable way that many have found us. Parents felt they were not alone and found materials vital for their child’s success. Several at risk youth with learning challenges are now college bound for technical schools and have experienced no problems with school.

Description In the last 80 years, we've lost 93% of variety in our global food seeds. This statistic is even more frightening in Native American culture, where the unique seeds are woven into their DNA and cultural identities. When seeds are shared, so are stories. Our seed program has several unique outcomes that surround the growing of rapidly-diminishing, rare, tribal seeds including corn, squash, and beans for future preservation. People with learning challenges tend to the seed while preserving part of history and learning gardening skills. The volunteer opportunity is spearheaded by The Gifted Learning Project in collaboration with several local homeless shelters. We focus on Native American families that have family members with learning challenges, but all community members are welcome. 
Category Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, General/Other Sustainable Agriculture
Population Served Native Americans, ,
Short-Term Success

Participants learn gardening skills and techniques for seed saving. All ages and abilities of community members can do this as well as enjoy the outdoors. This program ties in physical health and activity for all members but is of special benefit for those living in homeless shelters with little or no access to learning from nature while being outdoors. We have increased in the numbers of participants an increase of 90% growth in just several months.

Long-Term Success

Preserving of rare seeds, from a just a handful of seeds to preserving 20 pounds of ancestral seed a year. The project includes all but with a focus on those with learning challenges. One outcome is 100% of children attending become Junior Master Gardeners. They also learn and understand the importance of heirloom and rare seeds. The seeds are culturally important to Native Americans for seed saving as well as preservation of history. For example, some of these seeds represent those present during Lewis and Clark’s journey of discovery. The crew ate foods that were selected by Native American guides to survive through the harsh Midwestern winters. Visual learners thrive with the hands-on nature learning in the garden. The children learn to select and hand pollinate corn as well as to use fish fertilizer and cover crops. The children learn and use many STEM or science related skills. The project offers community building skills, higher self- esteem and a sense of ownership and independence from growing healthy food. The families also learn about better food choices and develop a positive attitude towards garden snacks. Families learn critical learning skills, love of gardening and appreciation for the environment while cultivating their minds.

Program Success Monitored By Tribal leaders, Native Harvest Nonprofit  and Master gardeners, as well as seed libraries on Indian Reservations. Increased awareness of heirloom seeds and preparation of foods with food grown from seed. Feedback from shelter counselors, and other liaisons between homeless shelters and project coordinators. Noreen Thomas, board member for The Gifted Learning Project is master gardener and will monitor project and completion of Junior Master Gardening program. 
Examples of Program Success

The children with learning disabilities were able to complete the garden. Children looked forward to the garden day and shared some of the activities with the smaller children. The families were engaged and were able to use the garden as a science project as well as an opportunity to learn about the cultural value of the seeds. The kids would not have had this hands on opportunity otherwise. This kind of exposure ignites the desire to learn. High attendance rates along with increasing numbers of children attending with their parents indicated success. This project simply would not exist if the families did not see the value in doing this activity. This is a volunteer opportunity and skill building event. The volunteers are from the homeless shelter and the majority are women whose children come also. Many are young boys and are also Native American.

CEO Comments

The path ahead includes many creative projects aiming to enhance the lives of those with learning challenges. As a community, we all need to learn to create an environment designed to include those with learning challenges. One pressing question for those of us at the organization is, "How can we make life better as our population ages and more individuals fall into the “special needs” category?"  Most importantly, for those born with any variety of learning challenge, we ask the tough question, "why not?"

Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Girard Sagmiller
Term Start Jan 1999
Girard Sagmiller has over 30 years of business experience in fortune 500 businesses and development of new technology. Girard has a masters in business administration and technology from Baker's University. He is an executive communicator, not a director, because he is actively involved in the work of the Gifted Learning Project. He also works to match the needs of the community with the resources available to make life more fulfilling for those with special needs.  
Girard has received the 'Friend of 4H' award and was also nominated for the 'Human Rights' award in 2015. In 2006, he was selected for the 'Family Fun Magazine Community Service' award. Most recently, he has been nominated for a state award for exceptional efforts and contributions in areas of diversity and inclusion. 
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Paid Full-Time Staff 0
Paid Part-Time Staff 0
Volunteers 250
Paid Contractors 0
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan No
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Yes
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
University of Missouri Kansas, and Minnesota Extension Downs Guild (national state levels) Harvard Medical School, University of Minnesota Regional Partnership, Extension Service, Cornell University , Thrivent, 4H Foundation, Lee Thomas Farm, Bremer Banks, The Downs Guild, National Downs Foundation, Kansas Arts Council, Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Moorhead Community Education, Horizon School, Kaufman (use of buildings,) FM Area Foundation, 1200 Public Libraries, Philanthropy and Youth Organization, Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, Kansas City Foundation, Google
National Community Service AwardDisney2002
CEO Comments
Services for disabilities are constantly shrinking due to deep funding cuts, yet the population with unique needs continues to grow. It is the mission of the Gifted Learning Project to share our innovative resources and fit in niches that do not exist or receive inadequate care in communities. Our unique initiatives are designed to support individuals with special needs and help to improve their well-being. The garden-able project is just one of our programs that works to provide life-enrichment programs, daily activity, an opportunity for better health, and encouragement and support in the lives of those we serve, while honoring and respecting each individual.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Girard John Sagmiller
Company Affiliation Cedar Crest Financial
Term Jan 2008 to Dec 2017
Board Members
Jef Gross Community Volunteer
Brita Rae Mahrer Rae Wallace
Mr. Girard John Sagmiller Cedar Crest Financial
Sherri Sagmiller Up with Downs Support Group
Ms. Noreen Thomas M.S.Doubting Thomas Publishing
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 1
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 4
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 2
Female 3
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 7
Board Term Limits 10
Board Meeting Attendance % 100%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Advisory Board / Advisory Council
Communications / Promotion / Publicity / Public Relations
CEO Comments
We focus on the notion that our community truly knows what is best for itself; thus, a majority of our groundbreaking projects bloom from ideas of members of the community. Our board is constantly approached by compassionate community advocates seeking positive change in the lives of those with special needs.
The deep-rooted work we do stems from generous members of the community supporting the pioneering ideas of their neighbors and friends. Additionally, we have witnessed firsthand that the most vibrant ideas are those that originate from people who love and care deeply for their family members and friends with special needs. Once our vested parents of special needs children design a program, we match that with insight, contributions, and donations to make it happen. This collaboration between us and members of our community is the secret to our success. We aim to empower youth to volunteer and change the world through meaningful service in order to promote social acceptance and abolish the stigma too often associated with special needs.  
Fiscal Year Start Jan 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End Dec 31, 2017
Projected Revenue $40,000
Projected Expenses $63,000
Foundation Comments
  • FY 2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990-EZ.  
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals.  
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$24,456$15,607$250
Administration Expense$0$0$1,817
Fundraising Expense$0$0$0
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.030.940.69
Program Expense/Total Expenses100%100%12%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue0%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$2,124$1,454$2,352
Current Assets$2,124$1,454$2,352
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$0$0$0
Total Net Assets$2,124$1,454$2,352
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities------
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments

We are working with youth to learn about nonprofit work by hosting interns. This has been a big boost to us and the interns have had amazing, and "truly life-changing experiences."

In an effort to connect all ages we are working closer with schools and community service clubs to work with all abilities and aging populations. The connections made are helping us bridge the gap of limited resources. The youth have stepped up to the plate and have had great experiences as well as helped with fundraising,  marketing, and communications. A great community win-win!
Organization Name The Gifted Learning Project
Address 10 E 135th St. #481551
Kansas City, MO 641481551
Primary Phone (816) 200-0457
Contact Email
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Girard Sagmiller
Board Chair Mr. Girard John Sagmiller
Board Chair Company Affiliation Cedar Crest Financial
Year of Incorporation 1999