About Potential Development

Our Philosophy

We believe a child’s potential develops best in a structured environment with individualized educational plans designed for each unique student. This is achieved through ample resources and strong partnerships between parents, caretakers and our educated, caring and qualified staff.

Our History

Since 1953, the Potential Development Program Inc. has been providing services to children in our community with developmental delays. Under the leadership of Ms. Christine Kline, the Agency was originally incorporated as the United Cerebral Palsy Association.

Striving to accommodate the changing needs of the community and a decline in the need to provide services to children with cerebral palsy and physical disabilities, the Agency began to focus on helping children with developmental delays, particularly speech and language delays, and children with challenging behaviors. In 1976 the Agency was reincorporated and renamed “Potential Development Program Inc.” to better define the current programs and services.

Not long after, Potential Development (PD) staff saw an increasing number of children coming to the program with Autism Spectrum Disorder. To best meet the needs of these students, staff members participated in an intensive training program that concentrated on early intervention methods to helping preschool age children. As the preschool in Youngstown grew so did the need for services in Trumbull County. Therefore, PD began a partnership with the Children’s Rehabilitation Center to open a classroom for Trumbull County preschool-age children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

As the number of children being diagnosed with Autism continued to increase, PD staff realized that parents were intentionally holding their children back from kindergarten because the students were having difficulty transitioning into the public school system. To fill this gap in services, the Potential Development Program School of Autism, a non-public charter school, was opened in September 2001. At the time, the goal was to work with children in kindergarten through third grade, but parents began asking the agency to add classrooms to accommodate students through 8th grade. In response, PD gradually expanded services as the student body aged.

In 2013, as Potential Development entered its 60th year of service, it once again expanded its services to include a high school. The expansion was driven by the needs and requests of the families of our students and will give students the opportunity to earn their high school diploma. In addition to core classes, students benefit from life and work skill training courses to better prepare them for the real world.

In the Spring of 2016, Potential Development High School held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the installation of the elevator and renovations of the buildings second floor.   Completion of this project enabled us to double the student enrollment through the addition of 8 classrooms to the high school.

In June 2017, The Youngstown Foundation’s Hine Memorial Fund awarded a $500,000 grant to Potential Development School for Students with Autism to purchase the Anthem building at 2400 Market St. in Youngstown across the street from its high school.  Renovations to the first floor quickly began by adding 7 classrooms, 2 therapy rooms, activity room and a sensory room and was completed by the first day of school in September.  These renovations, freed up 11 classrooms at Potential Development’s 880 E. Indianola Ave. building, which is now be the new home of our preschool.

In June of 2018, renovations of the second floor of the elementary and middle school second began.  This included 6 additional class rooms, library and activity room just in time for the beginning of our 2018-2019 school year.  Our enrollment continues to climb and with that is the need to expand our south end of the elementary and middle school along with the construction of a new playground.

That year, we saw a 44 percent increase in students’ enrollment from the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year.  We were continuing to grow with 200 students enrolled.  As we celebrated this milestone, we also celebrated our 65th anniversary serving our community.

Enrollment held steady this year with 215 students in preschool through grade 12 in our 65th year in business, and nine students graduating from high school in the summer.

In the spring of 2019, we received a $330,000 grant from the Hine Memorial Fund which allowed us to build a sensory-friendly playground it long-desired on its Elementary/Middle School campus on Market Street in Youngstown. The grant also funded the renovation and equipping of four new classrooms to meet capacity demands. We held a ground breaking ceremony in August - just in time for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

A new multi-year strategic plan was adopted in 2019 that addressed state funding, staffing and compensation, and diversifying the non-profit organization’s fundraising efforts.  With our strategic plan in place, we are looking forward to the opportunities the 2020 year will bring!


Board of Directors

Angela Crofford, Chair

Sue Stricklin, President

Ken Goldsboro,Vice President

Bob Gearhart Jr., Treasurer

Deloran Thompson, Secretary


Ted Downie

Michael Fagan

Joe Fiumara

Rick Fryda

Robyn Gallitto

Maxine Gordon


Joe Fiumara

John Jamieson

Michael A. Kernan

Ron Raubenstraw

Sarra Mohn

Jim Miller



John Kufleitner

Linda Mansfield

John Kufleitner

Linda Mansfield

Peggy Pallotta

Eric Ryan


Michael Simon

Shelia Triplett

Ilona Roth-Cohn

Tom Olenych