Blank Family Foundation commits $20 million for stuttering research

Blank Family Foundation commits $20 million for stuttering research

The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation has announced a ten-year, $20 million grant to the Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin in support of research on the nature of and effective treatment for stuttering.

The grant will establish the Arthur M. Blank Center for Stuttering Education and Research and help drive a scientifically grounded, whole-person therapeutic approach to stuttering that targets core communication competencies established by Courtney Byrd, who founded and directs the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute, the Dr. Jennifer and Emanuel Bodner Developmental Stuttering Laboratory, and the Dealey Family Foundation Stuttering Clinic at Moody. Among other things, the grant will enable the center to serve more individuals, train more students and clinicians, establish satellite centers nationwide, and launch Byrd's signature intensive treatment program, Camp Dream. Speak. Live., in ten countries.

A co-founder of Home Depot and owner of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, Blank has worked to overcome stuttering, which has afflicted members of his family over several generations.

"Defining communication by how fluent you are doesn't get at the freedom — the freeing of the inner person, the inner soul, the inner spirit, the inner mind, the intellect of what each person has to say and feel," said Blank, who signed the Giving Pledge in 2012.

"Our focus is on the person, not on the stuttering," said Byrd. "We're teaching people as young as three years of age to adults over the age of ninety, you can communicate effectively, and you can do so even if you continue to stutter."