History of the Barber National Institute

Making Dreams Come True Since 1952

Dr. Gertrude A. Barber

As an administrator in the Erie School District, Dr. Gertrude Barber was faced with the difficult task of telling parents that there was no place for their children with disabilities. These youngsters would either have to be educated at home or sent to a distant institution to live.

Dr. Barber believed there was a better way, and working with families, borrowed a room from the local YMCA to begin the first class for students with intellectual disabilities. 

Over the next 70 years, the organization founded by Dr. Barber has served children and adults in need because of the support of so many generous donors and friends.  The 70th Anniversary Club has been established for donors who want to ensure that our mission will continue for generations of children, adults, and families yet to come.

Please consider how you can join us:

  • $70 Anniversary membership
  • $150 Platinum Jubilee membership
  • $1,952 Founding member

Gifts of any amount to the 70th Anniversary Club will be greatly appreciated. Donors making gifts of $70 or more will be recognized on our website and in a special celebration in Barber Spirit. To be included, please make your gift by July 1 online or by mail to 70th Anniversary, Dr. Gertrude Barber Foundation, 100 Barber Place, Erie PA, 16507.

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We hope you will join us in celebrating the milestones of our first
70 years of service that are highlighted in this anniversary chronology.



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