In the Future We Envision
- The family of every child who is deaf or hard of hearing will know of all communication choices for their child so the family can make this important decision in a timely manner.
- Quality options for developing communication in the modality chosen by families will be available and affordable for children. This will include immediate access to hearing technology for children whose families choose to use it.
- It will be common knowledge that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen and talk.
- Leaders and professionals in a variety of programs and settings will be well-prepared to effectively teach and support listening and spoken language development for children, beginning at birth and continuing through the child’s education.
Our Past Work
For 30 years, the Oberkotter Foundation has supported programs where children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn listening and spoken language. We have provided significant funding nationally, supporting approximately 50 programs throughout the country. This work has dramatically increased the number of opportunities for children who are deaf or hard of hearing to listen and talk.
Our Future Work
We have identified the following major areas that we believe will build on our past work to produce the greatest results for children and families in the future. We will be focusing our resources and efforts on these areas:
- Generating greater national awareness that children who are deaf or hard of hearing can learn to listen and talk;
- Ensuring that families have access to affordable, quality early intervention services in listening and spoken language as early as possible; and
- Building partnerships and communities for families and professionals to effectively support children who are using listening and spoken language.
Download a copy of the Strategic Framework (PDF) we adopted in 2012.
We carry out our work through a variety of activities including grantmaking, our subsidiary organization, Hearing First, and our partnerships with organizations and professionals committed to improving child outcomes.
The Oberkotter Foundation was created by Paul and Louise Oberkotter. Paul was a long-time employee of United Parcel Service (“UPS”), beginning his career at age 20 as a typist/accountant for the founder, Jim Casey. Paul rose through the ranks, serving as president for 10 years and ultimately as chief executive officer and chairman of the board of UPS. He retired in 1985 after 60 years with the company and remained on the board of directors until 1994.
Paul and Louise had a daughter, Mildred, who was deafened in infancy. In choosing a communication option, they decided that Mildie would learn to communicate through spoken language and would be a full participant in the community. Recognizing the importance of having appropriate educational supports to achieve their goal, they ensured that Mildie had a quality education.
In 1985, Paul and Louise, working with their personal attorney, George H. Nofer, created the Oberkotter Foundation. Paul and Louise provided the funding for the Foundation and served with George as the original Trustees. Mildie became a Trustee upon Louise’s death in 1987.
George served as the first Executive Director of the Foundation and helped develop the early focus of the Foundation. The early focus was based on Paul and Louise’s primary interest in diabetes and deafness, but also incorporated other areas of medical research.
Bruce A. Rosenfield became the second Executive Director of the Foundation in 2003. In recent years, Mildie’s vision of the future has led the current Trustees to focus funding mostly on deafness-related issues.
Our grant guidelines describe our funding areas more fully.