Forty years ago, our ECF Kayne Eras School was founded as a nonprofit and California State Certified Non-Public School—the Educational Resource and Services Center (ERAS)–by education and human services visionary Barbara Cull.
Using a unique interdisciplinary approach, the school was designed to provide a full range of personalized programs and services focused on meeting the diverse needs of children experiencing challenges in learning.
At its inception, ERAS provided services to six full-time school students funded through LAUSD, and delivered more than 2,000 hours per year of therapy services, including speech and language, educational, sensory motor integration and restorative.
- By 1982, ERAS school enrollment had doubled, and the program was moved to a facility zoned for use as a school in Beverly Hills. Founder Barbara Cull mortgaged her home and donated the money to remodel the facility for the school and sustain the program for several years.
- In 1983, ERAS was approved to provide Special Education School services to students experiencing learning, developmental, emotional or chronic medical problems from Beverly Hills, Santa Monica and Culver City School Districts.
- Through the years, in response to increasing needs and desire for ERAS services, support was provided by dedicated board members and philanthropists. In 1983, Gloria Franks, whose daughter attended the school, and Barbara Cull created the “ERAS Best of Beverly Hills Fashion Show” and luncheon. The show featured fashions from top stores including Giorgio, Lina Lee and Somper Furs, worn by celebrity models, and became a vital source of financial support for the next 16 years.
- In 1986 ERAS received its first grant from the “Ladies of SHARE,” a group of Los Angeles women committed to raising money and helping organize programs to better the lives of the developmentally disabled and abused. The generous gift supported the unique and highly successful enrichment program offered at the school, including art, music, dance, drama and educational therapies. Beginning with that first gift, and continuing to this day, SHARE has annually supported this exceptional programming which has proven to enhance learning and support the emotional well-being of our students.
- Also in 1986, beloved Los Angeles television newscaster Fritz Coleman created a fundraising special event, “Comics for Kids.” With the support of the owners of the IMPROV, the Laugh Factory and the talented comedians who donated their time, the event continued to be a successful source of revenue and a vehicle for creating awareness of the need to provide help and support for the children we served.
- In 1987, The Mega-Cities Project, a transnational nonprofit network of leaders from grassroots groups, nonprofits, government, business, academia and media dedicated to sharing innovative solutions to the problems their cities faced, recognized the school as an Innovative Neighborhood Leader and for “Innovative Transfers” of its model to New York, Washington D.C., Detroit, Los Angeles, San Diego, Japan, Korea, France and Brazil.
- By 1988 school enrollment was at 60 students, being served from Inglewood, Compton, Hawthorne, Long Beach, Torrance and Malibu school districts in addition to Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Culver City.
- In 1990, ERAS moved into a new site on Jefferson Blvd. in Culver City, with 70 full-time students.
- In 1991, the U.S. Olympic Festival awarded ERAS the “Community Gold Medal” for its contribution to Special Olympics.
- In 1996, Eras School received commendation from the California Department of Education onside review team for its community outreach activities and its linkage with universities and community businesses. During this year, at the request of the National Association of Educational Therapists, Eras designed and established the first Educational Therapy and Special Education Certification Programs at UCLA. This allowed Eras School students to have access to regular educational therapy support at no cost to families.
- In 1997, the Eras School sports and cheerleading teams were created under the leadership of Ron Woods, former major league baseball player and recipient of the Golden Glove Award. Students began competing in the AMASE Football and Basketball League. Our “Bulldog” sports and cheerleading teams have continued to be a vital part of our Enrichment Program, and the teams are part of a league that plays multiple sports against other non-public schools.
- By the mid-90s, Eras School enrollment was at 114 students and once more had outgrown its facilities. To address this issue for the future, the Board agreed it was time to construct a permanent home for the children and families served and votes to launch the “Building Blocks of Hope” Capital Campaign to raise the funds needed. Joni Eichenbaum Berry, head of the Eichenbaum Foundation and a long-standing member of the Board of Directors, generously made a lead gift of $1,000,000 to launch the Campaign.
- On October 27, 1998, the Eras Center Groundbreaking took place at 5350 Machado Road. It was attended by Bill Cohen, Secretary of Defense; General Jones, his Chief of Staff; Steve Tisch, Philanthropist and Producer of the hit movie, Forest Gump; Stephen Shapiro, Westside Estate Agency; Gloria Franks, Independent Businesswomen; Joni Berry, Eichenbaum Foundation; Paul and Mary Zimmerman, Philanthropists; Kobi Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Eras Founder and Executive Director Barbara Cull.
- Founder Barbara Cull was awarded “Special Educator of the Year” in 1988 by the California State Federation Council for Exceptional Children for developing and implementing in the public schools the Eras “Model for Unity in Single-system Inclusive Classrooms.”
- In March of 1999, the Kayne Family contributed a gift of $4,000,000 ensuring the completion of the school’s new home. In recognition and gratitude for this most generous gift to those we serve, the center was renamed the Kayne-Eras Center.
- After having raised $9 million to fund the project, Kayne-Eras Center moved into its new home at 5350 Machado Road—a 39,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility located on 2.5 acres of land in the heart of Culver City. In addition to classrooms providing student instruction, the center now had room for its multi-disciplinary therapeutic services, arts enrichment, a library, auditorium, cafeteria, outdoor recreation areas and specialized rooms for teaching science, computers and independent living skills.
- In 2002, a black-tie gala honoring Army and Selma Archerd benefitting the Kayne-Eras Center raised more than $1 million. The event, held at the Beverly Hilton, was sponsored by the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Mercedes-Benz and Harry Winston. Celebrity guests included Julie Andrews, Garth Brooks, Merv Griffin, Quincy Jones, Carl Reiner, Sidney Poitier and a host of stars. Regis Philbin emceed the event.
- In 2003, Barbara Cull and the Kayne-Eras Center received the Association of Education Therapists “Dorothy Ungerleider Award” for Exceptional Contributions to the Field of Educational Therapy.
- During the mid-2000s, Andrea Kayne-Kaufman conducted the DePaul University School of Education Efficacy Study of Kayne-Eras Center. The study demonstrated that the Kayne-Eras programs and services had a higher rate of achievement in reading and math than peers from the same backgrounds attending LAUSD. The results also found the graduation and employment rates for the Kayne-Eras students far surpassed those of the district.
- In 2006, given the common missions of empowering people with developmental disabilities, the Board of Directors of Kayne-Eras and of Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF) unanimously voted to merge and incorporate the Kayne-Eras Center into ECF’s continuum of lifespan services.
- Connected in 2013, ECF Kayne Eras School partnered with the Archer School for Girls through the Best Buddies program, and began our first activity where our students interact with their typical peers on a regular basis. Now in our seventh year of partnership, the program is a staple at our school and has helped numerous students form meaningful friendships and advance social and communication skills.
- WASC Surveyors touted ECF’s Kayne Eras School’s enrichment program as “World Class” following the school’s initial WASC Accreditation survey in 2014.
- In 2019, following a rigorous process of self-study, examination and review, ECF Kayne Eras School received full six-year status accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACS WASC). The ACS WASC is a world-renowned accrediting association and one of the six regional accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation through ACS WASC indicates that a school meets the highest standards of academic quality, organizational capacity and educational effectiveness.