The Gould Institute was founded in 1871 by the Waldensian Diaconia and supports disadvantaged children with programmes that develop skills, talents and aspirations.
The institute was founded in Rome in 1871 by James and Emily Gould as an evangelical vocational school open to Italian children of both genders. The school’s first home was a room offered by the Waldensian mission, but soon the number of children grew and the Gould Home rented part of an old convent and moved the school there. At the death of Emily Gould, in 1875, Garneri was appointed director. He streamlined the maintenance costs and set up a series of workshops to train young people for professions. In 1880, following the death of James Gould a few months earlier, the Society for Free Education was founded in New York and the institute was entrusted to a Scottish pastor while Pietro Monet, of the Waldensian Church, became its director. There were several directors over the years until 1898, when the New York Society decided to sell the Gould property to the Waldensian Church, which had since moved to other locations acquired with the funds of various donations. After that, the institute underwent a series of changes that led to taking in boys only, but this drastically changed with the beginning of the First World War. Precarious financial stability led to the decision that the building in Rome where it ran its activities would have to be sold. The Gouldini were transferred to Palazzo Salviati in Florence. In Florence, the Gould mainly took in orphans or those from underprivileged families, and a growing number of these went on to receive a higher education. With hard work, but great determination, the institute lived through two decades of fascism and the Second World War supported by the Florentine Waldensian community. After the war, Italy’s situation changed, and this also affected young people hosted at the Gould: the number of “temporarily orphaned” southern Italians grew, children of immigrants, between 5 and 20 years – with naturally diverse needs and problems, some with special needs and disadvantages. The directors who managed the work were well aware of the new challenges posed by Italy as it was rebuilding, paving the way for what the Gould Institute is today.
The Gould continues its work by supporting disadvantaged children through 4 areas of intervention and carrying out its activities in coordination with the City of Florence, the social services and the Juvenile Court. The active projects are:
CASA ARCO and COLONNA. Two family size homes host girls and boys between the ages of 6 and 18 (21 in some cases). The Municipality of Florence entrusts children to the institute when their family situations are compromised – the issues vary but are never economical – or in cases where an adoption has failed. The children are supervised in all aspects of their lives: from school to leisure time organization; from holidays to psychological support, but above all, the work supports and develops their skills, talents and aspirations.
LIMONAIA DAY CENTRE. Open 7 hours a day, this centre accommodates up to 25 teenagers who live in families that are temporarily unable to take care of them, primarily as far as the educational sphere is concerned. The Centre fills temporary parental gaps, providing a stable educational reference framework with role models who are always available.
HOUSE FOR AUTONOMY. This is an occasion for young people between the ages of 18 and 21 to experiment with autonomous management of their own lives. Here too, the young people are recommended by the Social Services. Although the original idea was to host young people with mild problems, today there are many requests to host young people with severe disabilities, often psychiatric.

about us