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It’s November – Time to Learn about the Indigenous Peoples of the US!

closeup of blanket with the words native american heritage month overlayed
In November each year, people become interested in American Indians.  It originally had to do with – and still does to some extent – the fact that Thanksgiving happens in November.  However since 1990, there has been a joint resolution by Congress, approved by the President, proclaiming November to be Native American (or American Indian and Alaska Native) Heritage Month.    So people – typically teachers – become very interested in the Native peoples of the U.S. in November.   Native people and organizations are asked if they can help educate their students, members, or employees and are happy to do it.  It’s a benefit to Native peoples to have others know more than what they were taught in their high school history class or scouts lessons.old photograph of a native american wearing a headdress

Well, if you are interested in learning more about Native peoples in November or all year long, here are some ideas in case you don’t know where to start.  If you are able to visit with Native peoples, preferably in their own communities, that is the place to start.  If you cannot do that, then you can always read books.  I have many favorites but thought I would share just a few recommendations:

  • If you just want the facts then I would start with “Tribal Nations and the United States: A Brief Introduction.”  It is about 45 pages filled with rich infographics and beautiful photographs and much content for you to read and learn.  There is a web version you can view and also a PDF to download if you want to share with others.
  • Anything written by Vine Deloria, Jr. is more than worthwhile. If you don’t know who he is, that is where you start – do a Google search to learn more about him.  He was a writer, activist, theologian, historian, lawyer, and teacher.  I think his best book to start would be his 1969 “Custer Died for Your Sins:  An Indian Manifesto.”   In it, he breaks down stereotypes and destroys myths about Native peoples as it captures the story of growing Native power and activist efforts.
  • Like a Hurricane” by Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warrior covers similar ground as Deloria in “Custer Died for Your Sins” in terms of the activist movements in Indian Country but it extends beyond 1970 into critical events that shaped where
    we are today.
  • If you want to learn about an earlier history, then Dee Brown’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West,” is definitely worth reading. It was critically acclaimed when it was published in 1970 and two chapters were later adapted for an HBO film in 2007.
  • Finally, here are just two recommendations for works of fiction. Michael Dorris’ debut novel and dubbed his best, “Yellow Raft in Blue Water” is the story of three generations of strong Native women set primarily in Montana.  And just for fun, I recommend “The Indians Won” by Martin Cruz Smith as an alternate view of history.  It is out of print but available on Amazon.

Now that I’ve written this piece, it has made me hungry to re-read some of my favorites soman standing next to a painted horse as I head on vacation I’m taking one or two with me.  Enjoy learning!

 

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month and we will use this space to reflect on the United Tribes Technical College Spring Graduation on May 8, 2015Foundation’s mission to Indigenous Peoples. Later in the month, we will publish pieces from Sherry Salway-Black, who has been a member of our Board since 2006, and from Rick Williams, Foundation Consultant on programs serving Indigenous Peoples.

The Johnson Scholarship Foundation has been investing in Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Canada for 25 years and has granted about $20 million towards that end. Currently, grants in support of Indigenous Peoples total $1.5 million per year. The Foundation’s strategy is to assist economic development through business and entrepreneurship education.

One of the Foundation’s programs is the Entrepreneurship Scholarship, created in 1995. Itjewel honga, nau student provides scholarship assistance for students pursuing business or entrepreneurship education. The theory is that the trickle-down effect of this will contribute to business and economic development on Indian reservations.

The Scholarship program has been expanded to serve Indigenous students at institutions other than tribal colleges. Several of our tribal college partners, with our help, have been able to build endowments.

The College of Menominee Nation, Oglala Lakota College and Salish Kootenai College, for example, have built substantial endowments which will fund scholarships to business and entrepreneurship students in perpetuity. They no longer need Foundation grants for this purpose. The Foundation has also worked with A*CF to build an endowed fund to provide scholarships to business and entrepreneurship students at any tribal college.

The Entrepreneurship Scholarship Program has helped over a thousand students graduate from tribal colleges and universities.

Another Foundation program is the country’s only MBA in American Indian Entrepreneurshipgroup photo of people wearing graduation gown and caps. This was created in 2001 and was intended to support tribal college faculty in their delivery of the Entrepreneurship Scholarship program. It was designed to
be taken at distance during the traditional academic year and on campus in the summer. This would allow faculty to continue teaching, while obtaining the MBA.

The MBA was funded by the Foundation but developed and delivered by Gonzaga University.  The Foundation interviewed several candidates and chose Gonzaga, mainly because Gonzaga really wanted it. Gonzaga’s original mission was to serve American Indians and this was an opportunity to honor that history. Gonzaga also has a highly ranked MBA program and that helped tip the balance.

Gonzaga’s MBA in American Indian Entrepreneurship has produced 59 graduates and is still going strong.  In 2013 First Nations Development Institute conducted a
comprehensive evaluation of the program and found that most of its graduates had returned to their respective communities and participated in virtually every aspect of life there. As of 2013, sixteen of the program’s graduates were managing their own businesses, one was a tribal college president and others were in senior positions in woman posed with graduates wearing graduation caps and gownstribal and federal governments, colleges and business. In 2014 the Foundation and Gonzaga University entered into an agreement to endow the MBA program with a $2 million fund, which will provide permanent scholarship support for students in this program.
MBA-AIE graduates have traveled and expanded the path for students coming behind them. They act as mentors and role models for Indigenous students, particularly those from 4 year tribal college degree programs, who can pursue the MBA-AIE and continue to live in their community.

Economic growth through education is a long term proposition. There is no quick fix. Development comes from within the community and it takes time. That said, economic growth in Indian Country is increasing. In 2005, the Harvard Project on American Economic Development found in its study of socioeconomic change between the 1990 and 2000 census that “The growth in reservation residents’ per capita income was approximately three times the growth experienced by the average U.S. citizen” (Taylor and Kalt, ix).

The Foundation will continue to invest in the Entrepreneurship Scholarship, the MBA in American Indian Entrepreneurship and in other programs that contribute to economic development in Indian County. We will, in the words of Joseph Marshall III, “Keep Going.”

 

Inclusion Works

A Giving Matters blog post earlier this month by Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF) and Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities Board Member, King Jordan, describes the staff young man in a wheelchairwho support students with disabilities on college campuses as the Secret Sauce that can make a difference in the lives of young people making the transition from adolescence to young adulthood. I couldn’t agree more about the essential role staff play in a young adult’s success. With more than two decades of serving over 21,000 young people, the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities (MFPD) and its Bridges from School to Work (Bridges) program has also perfected the secret sauce: committed, compassionate, quality staff – we call them employer representatives – who match young people with real jobs in businesses that offer advancement opportunities. Built upon Marriott’s long standing culture that puts people first, MFPD-Bridges puts ability first, championing what young adults can do in the competitive workplace. And what’s equally remarkable and tremendously rewarding for staff with the secret sauce, and all of us, is witnessing the outcome: the transformative power of job in a young person’s life.

When we say that the Bridges program transforms lives, we mean it, but we know that transformation doesn’t happen overnight; it’s a gradual process. After all, the youth in young man wearing a work apronthis program are still in their formative years—with some kids eager to rush into the world of work, while others are a bit reluctant to leave behind the familiarity of their communities and high schools. Most, however, share one thing in common; young adults come to us with a great deal of uncertainty and trepidation, lacking self-assurance, ambivalent or even
skeptical because other programs made promises that never materialized.

During the months of October and November, Bridges programs across the country hold celebratory events timed to coincide with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Hosted by our Board Chair, Richard Marriott, these celebrations recognize youth with disabilities and the employers who hire them. This year’s NDEAM theme, Inclusion Works, seems to carry more poignancy as we’ve gathered in Bridges cities to celebrate not just a first job, but a second, and in some cases, a third job through young woman wearing a work apronBridges. This is because Bridges works with these young adults for one year, sometimes longer, helping them climb the first few steps of a career ladder. We know these steps will set them on a path to independence and lifelong employment.

Take for example a young lady named Jamethia in Dallas, whose first Bridges job was as a steward at a Fairmont Hotel where she worked for a year until the commute to work became unmanageable. Her second Bridges job, also a steward, was much closer to home at the Dallas W Hotel. All along, Jamethia knew that she wanted stewarding to lead her on a culinary career path. So with that goal in sight, she continued to work, juggling her W Hotel job with culinary school, a plan that is paying off.  Jamethia has been employed continuously for more than two years and is now on her third job, working for the last nine months in the pastry kitchen at the 1000-room Dallas Omni Hotel. As she has progressed through each job, Jamethia needed less support and guidance. For her Omni job, she completed the application on her own while asking her Bridges mentor a few questions over the phone.

Jamethia’s is a life transformed through the power of a job, affecting not only this young woman standing in front of a sign reading AMCambitious young lady, but her manager, other associates at the Omni, and countless others who witness the positive change.

And as National Disability Employment Awareness Month draws to a close, it is worth reminding ourselves of the
nearly 400,000 young adults with disabilities exiting special education every year in the U.S. whose abilities can and must be realized through post-secondary education, training and the power of a job. Let’s redouble our efforts throughout the year to promote and support efforts to integrate young adults with disabilities in the competitive workplace.

Inclusion works. It works for the young adult. It works for the employer. It works for us all.

What Makes a Movement

Focus on Ability, Not Disabilty

Every year in October the country observes National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM).  Each year NDEAM establishes a theme and this year that is “inclusion works.”   The notion that inclusion does work speaks directly to what we do at the Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF). Twenty of our grant recipient partners are programs that support various aspects of inclusion for people with disabilities along the entire age spectrum.  We know from working with these programs that inclusion works.

Unfortunately, too many people do not yet realize or acknowledge this fact.  Too many people have preconceived notions of the limitations that disability presents and not enough awareness of the abilities of those of us who have disabilities.

For me, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is very personal.  As a deaf man and as the former president of Gallaudet University, I have been very close to issues related to disability for more than 50 years.  About 10 years ago I was invited to join the Board of Directors of the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and my work with disability issues immediately grew by leaps and bounds.

At the Foundation we think of ourselves as investors.  In the area of disability, we invest in programs that work directly with individuals to help them transition from one level of education to the next and finally to the world of work.  We have learned two very significant things doing this.

First, and this is where disability is highly personal to me, we have learned that the mostpeople shaking hands across a table difficult barrier people with disabilities face is not a physical one, but is the barrier of
negative attitudes.
  Ignorance is a frequently misused or overused word, but related to disability, it is true that by and large most people are ignorant.  Most people, when they think about individuals with disabilities, think first about what those people cannot do.  By doing this, they actually create a barrier which makes it more difficult for people with disabilities to achieve.  When we can focus instead on what people with disabilities can do instead of what they cannot do, it becomes much easier for them to achieve.

The second thing we have learned relates directly to the first.  Over time and after significant investment in scholarships for people with disabilities we now know that while those scholarships are very important in helping people with disabilities access higher education, as important or maybe even more important is what we have called group photo with people wearing name tagselsewhere a “secret sauce.”  Let me describe briefly one of the Foundation’s core programs and the importance of secret sauce.

Since the Foundation began, we have provided over 4,250 scholarships to nearly 2,500 students with disabilities at all 12 of the universities in the State University System of Florida. This totals to more than $9 million of JSF funds granted to these students over the past 25 years. Many of the students who receive scholarship support say that without it they would not have been able to attend university.  Along with the scholarship dollars that they receive, however, is a different and maybe more important support.  They receive the personal support and attention of the staff people who work in the offices of disability support services.  This support is what we have called the secret sauce, but it’s a very simple concept.

The staff people who work in the disability services offices “get it.”  When they see a student who has a disability they focus immediately on what that student can do.  Instead of presenting an attitudinal barrier, their positive attitudes help students succeed.  They help them succeed in class and in life.  They help them persist in their education from year to year and they help them transition to the world of work.graphc reading "We're all able to do anything!"

This is why this is so personal to me.  For most of my life I have had to deal with negative attitudes related to my deafness.  Since joining JSF, I’ve been privileged to help address and change those attitudes for many hundreds of young people.  We at the Foundation have seen so many successful transitions to work, but what has given me most personal satisfaction has been the overall growth in the recognition of the abilities of people with disabilities.

I encourage you to take the time during this month to reflect on your own personal perception of disability. Last week’s blog focused on the fact that we have a long way to go. We definitely do. And change can start with you.

We Have a Long Way to Go

October as a month of access and inclusion dates back to 1945 when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October the “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.”  We have come a long way since then but we still have a long way to go as a nation to educate and increase employment access for millions of people with disabilities in this President Bush signing the american with disabilities actcountry.  Only 19.8% of people with disabilities participate in the employment realm compared to 68.7% of those without disabilities.

So while we celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities in employment during this month, we are also reminded about how far we still need to go.

When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed and signed into law in 1990, President George H.W. Bush expressed a vision that it will provide opportunity for people with disabilities in this country “blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.”  Even after the 2008 amendment (ADAAA), the vision is still far from being realized.  Many buildings are still not accessible, many technologies are still not accessible, and the minds of a great number of individuals are still closed to the reality that artificial barriers exist.  Yes, we have come a long way but still have a long way to go.

I was hired as a director of a disability program some years back and a member of my staff is a wheelchair user.  I worked with this great colleague for about five years and found this person to be extremely professional, conscientious, timely, and efficient.  I tried many days to get to work early so I could say I made it to the office first but was only successful at this once.  Out of curiosity, I asked how a typical day would be.  I was informed that the day begins at 4:00 a.m. because it takes that long to get ready and make it to work on time.  When some colleagues would try to get out right at 5 or a bit before, young woman in a wheelchair at a computerthis person would not mind staying behind and closing the doors.  This colleague was not hired because of the visible disability but because of the skill.  However, this colleague felt a great burden to prove that they deserve to keep their job and therefore must do more than others.  This is the reality for many people with disabilities; they feel a need to demonstrate that they deserve the position.

The Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF) is well aware of the discouraging figures and has expanded its funding strategy to include employment.  For 25 years, JSF has participated in post-secondary access by providing scholarships to students with disabilities.  The Foundation has invested in both the students as well as in the professionals that work with them at all twelve schools within the State University System of Florida.  Many of these institutions (e.g. Florida State University, Florida A&M University, University of Florida, University of South Florida, Florida Atlantic University) create significant events to recognize the diversity that exist on their campuses by honoring the students they serve and those who contribute to the success and access for those students.

Institutions of higher education have done remarkable jobs at ensuring access and inclusion for students.  As a whole, the society needs to go further to giving people with disabilities opportunities to show they can contribute by hiring them and ensuring reasonable and appropriate accommodations.  Foundations also need to invest more in Older man playing with a group of young childrenprograms and projects that increase diversity in the workplace,  ensuring that diversity is not only about race, color, gender, or sexual orientation but also about ability.  Self-sufficiency and sustainable employment is what all Americans long for, it is the same for people with disabilities.  The Johnson Scholarship Foundation welcomes great ideas and innovative projects that focus on employment and self-sufficiency of people with disabilities.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM)

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is observed each October. The theme this year is “#InclusionWorks.” In honor of NDEAM, Giving Matters will devote poster for inclusion worksthe month of October to the issue of disability employment.
Employment of people with disabilities has become central to the Johnson Scholarship Foundation’s mission and strategy. In its early years, the Foundation focused solely on education of people with disabilities. Educators pointed out that unemployment of people with disabilities, even those with college degrees, was much, much higher than for the rest of the population.
Employment of people with disabilities is a civil rights issue. Notwithstanding federal legislation prohibiting discrimination, it has not been well understood by the general public or employers in the past. Employers seem to have avoided hiring people with disabilities because they did not understand that it is good business and adds to the bottom line.
A Louis Harris and Associates survey of 920 American employers revealed that employees with disabilities have about the same productivity levels as employees without disabilities. Some 90 per cent were rated as average or above average in performance of job duties. Nearly 80 per cent of the managers also said that their employees with a disability work as hard as or harder than their employees without a disability (Alberta Human Services). Other surveys have found similar results on performance and also lower than average absenteeidisability graphicsm and job turnover.
The Foundation began to include grants to non-profit organizations that focus on employment of people with disabilities and changed its mission to include employment. Recent grant agreements include Bridges from School to Work and The National Statler Center.
Bridges from School to Work engages employers, schools, community resources, youth and their families to help businesses meet their workforce needs while offering young people with disabilities the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed through employment. It presently serves about one thousand students per year from operations in 9 U.S. cities. Bridges has recently adopted a plan that would expand its locations to new cities and double the number of young people that it serves every year.
The National Statler Center for Careers in Hospitality Service is a program of the Olmsted Center for Sight in Buffalo, New York. It offers two curriculum modules: a ten week program that focuses on customer service in the hospitality industry and a seven week program on customer service for contact centers, financial and medical offices, transportation, and communications industries. Statler’s curriculum was developed in people shaking hands across a tablepartnership with Johnson & Wales University, the world’s premier hospitality educational institution and is a New York State proprietary business school, certified by the state department of education.
Foundation grants to employment focused non-profits include Career Opportunities for Students with Disabilities, the National Organization on Disability, Abilities and Gulfstream Goodwill Industries.
We salute our grantees and former grantees and the work that they do. Thanks to their work and others like them, employment of people with disabilities is receiving more attention in recent years. The Federal Rehabilitation Act requires federal employers (this includes contractors who sell goods or services to the federal government) to take affirmative action to employ and advance in employment qualified individuals with disabilities. American businesses, large and small, have taken a public stand and increased the number of people with disabilities in their workforces.
Progress has been made but there is still much to do. Get behind this issue. Spread the word. Donate to the cause or, better yet, hire someone with a disability. You and your business will be better for it!

Partnership & Matching Endowments

Our Foundation helps disadvantaged people to obtain education and employment. We do this through organizations such as schools, universities and non-profits. We chose carefully. We think of ourselves as investors and look for organizations with smart, energetic people, good ideas and alignment of interest. Once we make the decision to invest, these organizations become our partners.

The term “partner” is often used loosely. What do we mean?

The Foundation and its grantee may be in a joint venture to help people, but it is the group photo with a johnson scholarship recipientgrantee that actually does the work. We are mutually dependent. Everything else flows from this simple truism.

So what does this look like? In scholarship programs, partnership often involves building an endowment over a period of years, in addition to student scholarships. Some grant makers will not fund endowments; they prefer more immediate need. We think that endowments are a means to build grantee capacity and ensure that scholarships will continue to be granted after we have moved on. They also provide leverage for Foundation grants. Most of our endowment grants are matched 2, 3 and even 4 to 1 by other donors.

The Foundation has made matching scholarship grants at all of the State Universities in Florida. It has used matching grants to help build endowments at University of Central Florida and its Direct Connect partners, Eastern Florida, Lake Sumter, Seminole and Valencia CollegesUniversity of Florida; University of South Florida; and University of West Florida. It is presently in negotiations with two more state universities in Florida.

people talking at a receptionOutside of Florida, the Foundation has used its matching endowments to build capacity at tribal colleges and universities serving Indigenous Peoples. Two of the Foundation’s largest and most effective scholarship programs operate at tribal colleges that it has not funded for many years, namely Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota and Salish Kootenai College on the Flathead Reservation, Montana. Matching grants have helped to build scholarship endowments at other tribal colleges, the American Indian College Fund, and several universities that serve Indigenous Peoples.

One of our first matching endowments was to endow the City Music
program at Berklee College of Music. City Music is a program that engages, mentors and educates underserved youth in order to encourage them to finish school and pursue post-secondary education. We funded all aspects of this program from its beginning in Boston entrepreneurship scholarship reception group phototo its expansion to other locations. Many years ago we helped Berklee to build a multi-million dollar scholarship endowment for City Music and today the City Music Network has 40 partners in diverse locations, including Canada.

From the examples given above (and numerous others) matching endowment grants have proven an excellent vehicle for partnership between the Foundation and its grantees. It is a reliable strategy to leverage grant money and to help grantees to build capacity. At the end of a successful matching grant, the grantee is stronger and more independent. It has the endowment and, even more important, an enhanced fundraising capacity. It is better equipped to carry on with its work (and thereby advance the Foundation’s mission) and the Foundation is free to move on to other opportunities.

 

 

3 Ways to Better Tell Your Organization’s Story

Our Board and staff recently met with Dr. Malia Villegas of the National Congress of American Indians. During our time together, Dr. Villegas discussed the power of narrative. In her extensive work with Indigenous Peoples, she has found that “Storytelling is an essential part of community transformations.” The story that we tell about a place, about a people, about a project, all have the power to either “deepen or constrain [our] impact.”

So what can we do? How can we be sure to honor the people and places with which we work the stories that we tell and the narrative that we weave?

  1. Collect Data

The most impactful stories have their root in accurate information. Prior to weaving a narrative, do the work to collect and analyze data. Data is the first step and gives a point ofman looking towards two younger men at a table reference that can guide your steps further into the heart of the story.

Our grantee partners at the Martin Family Initiative (MFI) are good at letting data begin the story, but not complete it. MFI “seeks to improve elementary and secondary school education outcomes for Aboriginal Canadians through the implementation of specific programs and the application of appropriate research.” They know that 1 in 3 Aboriginal persons has not completed high school. And they understand that only half of Canadians claim any understanding of Aboriginal issues. These data points – and many more – guide the work of MFI. Because of this, they are best able to help the narrative of Aboriginal people in Canada become one of success, resilience and hope.

  1. Listen Beyond the Data

Research indicates that first generation college students graduate with college degrees at a drastically lower rate than their peers. But theses statistics are not the story.

To go beyond the data, the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program (MFOS) has spent good time listening the first-generation students and understanding the challengesgroup photo at a reception they face throughout their college education. No piece of data can encapsu
late the guilt a first-generation student might feel when leave home to go to school or what it must be like to have no frame of reference when it comes to signing up for classes. By listening to these pieces of information, MFOS has created a program that truly meets the needs of students, rewriting their story and instilling in them that they deserve a college education.

  1. Recognize the Larger Story

The Marriot Bridges from School to Work program works diligently to place qualified people with disabilities in successful work environments. The national unemployment rate among youth ages 16-24 stands at 16%; factor in disability and young adults are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled peers. Bridges recognizes that young man in a kitchenpeople with disabilities only represent a small fraction of the unemployment narrative. The larger story of the problem lies within inaccessible systems that prevent proper accommodations and success in the workplace in addition to unqualified workers. Understanding this has allowed Bridges to engage with both employers and potential employees in a manner that allows everyone to achieve success.

Everyone has a story to tell. As Dr. Villegas teaches us, how we tell it and how we share it will either “deepen or constrain your impact.” What story will you tell?

 

The Importance of Partnerships and Sustainability

As a Grant writer and Development professional I’m an avid consumer of industry journals, webinars, TED Talks, and all types of professional development literature. Apart from my own nerdy interest in the non-profit sector, I’ve found that keeping a finger on the pulse of trends and changes in development and fundraising makes me a more effective advocate for the Olmsted Center for Sight, and aids me in writing more impactful grant prtwo women shaking hands across a tableoposals for the agency’s many programs.

In recent months one of the most reoccurring themes I’ve come across is the need to efficiently articulate your agency’s sustainability when applying for grant funding. While financial sustainability is typically what comes to mind, budget sheets and revenue statements never completely encapsulate the health and longevity of an organization or program. Foundations and grantors often want to know about:

  • The role your Board of Directors plays in the agency
  • How the agency retains talented staff and executives
  • How the agency utilizes volunteers
  • If the agency has a strategic plan and how they use it
  • The agency’s relationships with other organizations (both non-profit and for-profit)

That last one (relationships) is of particular importance. Successful non-profit organizations are often the ones that find ways to align themselves with other organizations in their community, whether it be co-sponsoring a program or something more long-term like a merger or alignment. The Olmsted Center for Sight works collaboratively with several organizations in Buffalo and Western New York, which apart graphic of two hands shakingfrom strengthening the particular program(s), also helps illustrate to funders that our organization is sustainable.

The Olmsted Center for Sight is formally partnered with the Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI), in which we share work contracts and procurements.

Contracts secured through this relationship provide full-time employment to blind and visually impaired individuals in Olmsted’s Contact Center and Manufacturing division. The Olmsted Center has also been formally partnered with the Buffalo VA Medical Center for over 20 years, in which the agency provides full staffing for the Call Center and Switchboard operations in Buffalo and Erie, PA. Through our partnership with Veterans One-stop Center of Western New York, Inc., the National Statler Center (Olmsted’s career training program) waives the tuition of one disabled veteran per class.

If you’re a successful non-profit, chances are you’re already engaged in some sort of relationship or alignment effort; your job as a grant-seeker is to be knowledgeable about your organization’s relationships and  to be able to convey them in an impactful way when seeking funds.