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How the American Rescue Plan Act Affects Your Nonprofit

VSA will continue to research and share updates on the ARPA as more info becomes available. Several items to note as of now, 1) The deadline to apply for the PPP loan has NOT been extended beyond March 31st, 2) Be aware of the new extension of COBRA coverage (see below), 3) the new Charitable Incentive bill.

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Paycheck Protection Program

Adds $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection ProgramExpands PPP eligibility to charitable nonprofits that operate at multiple locations and employ not more than 500 employees per physical locationExpands PPP eligibility to other types of nonprofits, but with a 300-emplyee limit per locationNo changes to Second Draw PPP loans eligibility. PPP application deadline is Mar. 31, 2021 unless extended by Congress(Section 5001)

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

Includes $15 billion for the Targeted EIDL Advance program instructs SBA to spend $10 billion in payments to covered entities that did not receive full amounts to which they were entitledAllocates remaining $5 billion to covered entities that have suffered an economic loss of at least 50% and have 10 or fewer employees(Section 5002)

Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)

Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through Dec. 31, 2021(Section 9651)Paid Leave Tax Credits for EmployersExtends through Sept. 30, 2021 the refundable payroll tax credits for paid sick and family leave originally established in theFamilies First Coronavirus Response Act and voluntarily provided by employersIncreases the amount of wages for which an employer may claim the paid family credit in a year from $10,000 to $12,000 per employeeExpands leave to cover obtaining vaccinations and any resulting injury or illness related to vaccination(Section 9641)

Charitable Giving Incentives

The new law does not expand incentives for charitable giving, but on Tuesday, March 9, Senators and Representatives introduced the Universal Giving Pandemic Response and Recovery Act618 and H.R 1704. If enacted, the legislation would allow taxpayers who claim the standard deduction, rather than itemizing deductions, on their tax returns to take a deduction for charitable giving valued at up to one-third of the standard deduction (around $4,000 for an individual filer and $8,000 for married joint filers). This added giving incentive would be available for tax years 2021 and 2022. Read the full article from Candid

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VisionServe Alliance Announces Two Spring Academic Scholarship Recipients

St. Louis, Missouri—March 22, 2021 – VisionServe Alliance announces two new recipients of its annual academic scholarship: Alison Clougherty, Co-Founder of BEST in Nashville, TN, and Melisa Matthews, a Blind Low Vision Specialist with VIPS in Louisville, KY.

VSA’s annual academic scholarship is available to employees of its member organizations whose annual budget is $1.5 million or less to support continuing education, ACVREP certification, or a degree in vision related specialties or nonprofit management.

“We are thrilled to be able to help these two women pursue the education they need to serve young children with impaired sight,” notes VisionServe Alliance President, Lee Nasehi. “VSA is able to do this thanks to the generous donations of its members who pay it forward!”

Melisa Matthews with VIPS

“After completing the certification, I intend to continue to serve children ages birth to three who have blindness or low vision,” says Melisa Matthews. “I will use the knowledge gained from this program to better support the children and their families. The knowledge will help me support families to better understand and prepare them for the transition from our program to the school districts that will continue their services. The classes completed will help me gain and understand more how to help serve the children. These classes will help me to set appropriate goals and supportive strategies to the children I serve.”

For Alison Clougherty, her mission is personal. “I have recently cofounded a nonprofit in Tennessee that will provide parent support, direct early intervention and advocacy for families of blind and visually impaired children in our state, ages birth to 5. My son was born blind, so I learned first-hand where the gaps are in our state early intervention system. I want to help other families like mine through in-person home visits, advocacy and the creation of comprehensive and robust services.”

VisionServe welcomes additional donations to the VSA Scholarship fund to support applicants for the next application window which will open this summer.

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Cleanlogic’s Inspiration Foundation Supports 13 VSA Members Through Assistive Technology Grants

The Inspiration Foundation awarded 13 VisionServe Alliance members Assistive Technology Grants of up to $1,500 to help them keep their technology class rooms and remote training sessions up to date. The recipients used this funding to purchase a variety of equipment including braille displays, braille printers, a new laptop, phones for training, air pods, ear pods, headsets, Fusion software, tablets, handheld electronic magnifiers and more.

The Inspiration Foundation (a philanthropic division of Cleanlogic, a company offering quality bath and body accessories) created these grants to help nonprofit organizations purchase assistive technology equipment. The founder of Cleanlogic was inspired by his mom, who lost her sight when she was 7, but never let it stop her. Through her hard work, she became a passionate advocate, helping other blind and visually impaired individuals gain employment. The Inspiration Foundation’s Board believes that successful job placement and retention depends on strong technology skills and that independent living skills are augmented by technology.

VisionServe Alliance heartily thanks the Inspiration Foundation and Cleanlogic for their support!

2020 Assistive Technology Grant Recipients: 

Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired – Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Balance for Blind Adults – Toronto, Canada 

Community Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired – Stockton, CA 

Community Services for Sight – Sugarloaf, PA 

Computers for the Blind – Richardson, TX 

Earle Baum Center – Santa Rosa, CA 

In-Sight – Warwick, RI 

Lighthouse of Pinellas – Largo, FL 

Nu-Visions Center – Lewiston, PA 

San Diego Center for the Blind – San Diego, CA 

Savannah Association for the Blind – Savannah, GA 

The Vision Institute of South Carolina – Irmo, SC 

Valley Center for the Blind – Fresno, CA 

A volunteer with ABVI receiving training on Fusion JAWS and ZOOM Tech software
CCBVI patron uses an Orbit Writer Smartphone Companion braille keypad, which works with all smartphones and computers.
Community Services for Sight patron uses a tablet during a one-on-one training for applications to improve quality of life and promote independence. 
“Receiving this grant and purchasing this equipment has greatly improved the quality of our virtual programs. Prior to COVID all of our training was done in-person and so we had very little equipment for use when we had to transition to virtual programming. This equipment has enhanced the comfort of our staff, improved audio quality, and demonstrates to the training participants how their investment in similar equipment can also improve their experience.” – Chris Butler, Executive Director, In-Sight
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Call for Presentation Proposals Spring 2021

VSA is currently accepting presentation proposals for its spring 2021 virtual conference until Feb. 12, 2021. Attendance at the VisionServe Alliance Executive Leadership Conference is open to any and all leaders in the field of blindness, low vision, and visual impairments. The Conference Committee is especially but not exclusively interested in proposals on the following subjects:

Speaker standing in front of a crowd
  • Innovative program ideas
  • Innovative fundraising ideas including running virtual fundraising events
  • Facilitating culture change towards more diversity or other Diversity/Equity/Inclusion topic presentations
  • Team Building and ensuring your employees’ mental health
  • Remote service delivery especially mental health and delivery to rural communities
  • Designing accessible programs at your organization (internally and externally)

Guidelines: Because presentations will be pre-recorded, presenters should be comfortable presenting virtually. Please include links to previous virtual presentations if possible. Please also include the following:

  • Name(s) of presenter(s) (Panel discussions will be considered) along with title and email:
  • Title of proposed presentation (100 characters or less):
  • Description of presentation (500 characters or less):
  • Attach headshot and bio for all presenters
  • Include online links to relevant media

Submit your proposal: Email to info@visionservealliance.org with the subject line: ELC 2021 PRESENTATION PROPOSAL. Deadline to submit proposals: Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 by 5pm CST. If your proposal is not selected for this event, it may also be considered for an additional VSA virtual event.

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Vision Loss Community Professionals and Private Service Provider Groups Forge Historic Public Policy Alliance to Lead the Field in National Systems Change

Aging and Vision Loss to Take Center Stage; Services to Students and Working-Age Adults to Have Starring Roles

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USABA Names Molly Quinn as New Chief Executive Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            

Contact: Bill Kellick, Marketing/PR Manager
(719) 866-3222 or bkellick@usaba.org

COLORADO SPRINGS (July 28, 2020) – The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) is pleased to announce the addition of Molly Quinn as the association’s new Chief Executive Officer. Quinn comes to USABA with over 20 years of progressive experience in sales, sports marketing, and philanthropy. 

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Working to Achieve Medicare Coverage of Low Vision Devices

The Independence Through Enhancement of Medicare and Medicaid (ITEM) Coalition was formed to raise awareness and build support for policies that will enhance access to assistive devices, technologies, and related services for people with disabilities and chronic conditions. The coalition is broad-based including disability and aging organizations as well as health and provider associations.

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Resilience and Responsiveness in a Time of Unprecedented Challenge

Author: Paul Schroeder, April 8, 2020

Across the US, businesses, and agencies, and the communities and individuals they serve are struggling in countless ways to maintain well-being – physical, mental and economic. And, our political leaders are also struggling, with limited resources and levers to provide assistance and guidance. Recently enacted legislation has certainly helped and most agree that more action will be needed. In light of these unprecedented times, making our voices heard, on behalf of those we serve, those we employ and those we care for is more challenging than ever. Over the next several issues of Enews, we will try to keep you informed of developments and action needed regarding policy advocacy and provide resources here and on the website. Read on to see current threats to education, accessibility, and voting rights.

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Important Survey Shared Flattening the Inaccessibility Curve

Today VisionServe Alliance joins many other organizations and companies in a collaborative project to collect data and information about the experiences of adults who are blind or have low vision during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our goal is to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the lives of adults with visual impairments and to identify solutions for these challenges.

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VisionServe Alliance Joins Nonprofit Community in Signing COVID-19 Stimulus Letter

March 19, 2020 – VisionServe Alliance joined over 144 national nonprofit organizations calling for the federal government to pass a stimulus bill to support nonprofit organizations facing the COVID-19 crisis.