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FY 2003 Alternative Financing Program (AFP) Grantees

Delaware Assistive Technology Loan Fund
The Delaware Assistive Technology Loan Fund (DATLF) reflects the influence of successful assistive technology loan programs in other states as well as the consensus of the many Delaware stakeholders involved in its conceptualization. Efforts to define Delaware’s needs and a loan program model responsive to them began in May 2002 and have culminated in this program. The model, in which the Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation serves as the fiscal agent and the Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative functions as the partnering community-based organization, provides for a combination of guaranteed and non-guaranteed loans, as well as interest buy-downs and flexible terms, for the purchase of all forms of assistive technology, home modifications, and vehicle modifications.

Florida Alternative Financing Program Application
Under the new grant for the Florida Alternative Financing Program, the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, Inc. will expand its consumer directed AFP for the state of Florida that will increase access to and funding for assistive technology. FAAST assures that Floridians with disabilities, and their family members, will continue to obtain low-interest, longer-term loans that enable them to select and purchases assistive technology and services.

FAAST partners with the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Association for Centers for Independent Living (FACIL), and the local Centers for Independent Living (CILs). The Centers are the focal point of consumer counseling regarding application, selection of devices and services, and assistance with completion of paperwork. AMSouth Bank is the lending institution partner.

Georgia Department of Labor, Tools for Life Program
The Georgia Department of Labor, Tools for Life Program funded under the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, and administered by the Vocational Rehabilitation Program will establish the Credit-Able Alternative Financing Program (AFP). The Georgia Credit Union Foundation will make partial and full guarantees on loans approved by participating credit unions.

Since Georgia does not have a state credit union for residents of Georgia, Tools for Life is partnering with a number of groups committed to improving the economic literacy, self-sufficiency, and affordable financial services for our citizens. Georgians with disabilities can benefit to a significant degree from financial counseling as an option to increase the likelihood of their success in fulfilling responsibilities as borrowers. These groups formed The GettingAhead Association (TGAA) two years ago to address statewide needs for financial education and support among many different populations. Regardless of age, economic status, education, geographic location or Georgians with disabilities can join TGAA for a $5.00 membership fee, covered by this grant or by a sponsor, which then offers them opportunities to join one of several participating credit unions. MACO and Gwinnett Federal Credit Union both serve the entire state regardless of members’ county of residence, and have on-line financial services.

Tech-Able, Inc., has voluntarily served in a leadership role on behalf of all the Assistive Technology Resource Centers for many years and is involved in a leadership capacity with many other organizations. Serving in a role as the Community-Based Organization for Credit-Able, Tech-Able will lead the development of administrative and loan guarantee policies and procedures, and will provide oversight evaluation of all incoming program and consume satisfaction data. Tech-Able will work closely with all program partners affiliated as the Credit-Able Advisory Group to develop, plan, assist and evaluate Credit-Able.

Tools for Life and its partners are committed to consumer choice and control of programs like Credit-Able. As the program matures, expanded opportunities will occur in every area of program operation: from selection of assistive technology, decisions about whether to pursue a loan, to leadership opportunities on the Credit-Able Advisory Group and Loan Guarantee Review Panel, and TGAA board or program staff.

Guam Options for Alternative Loans - Assistive Technology (GOAL-AT)
On behalf of the U. S. Territory of Guam, the University of Guam Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research and Service (Guam CEDDERS), the designated Lead Agency for Assistive Technology for Guam and recipient of the State Technology Related Assistance Act funding, will establish the Guam Options for Alternative Loans – Assistive Technology (GOAL-AT) Program. This program aims to maximize independence and participation in society by individuals with disabilities through the establishment of alternative financing mechanisms. Given that Guam residents are not entitled to Supplemental Sectary Income (SSI), and Medicaid caps preclude the provisions of waivers, Guam residents have not had sufficient support through public assistance program to finance assistive technology equipment and services. This project will establish a program to fund alternatives to the traditional payment options of public assistance and self-financing so that individuals with disabilities can acquire assistive technology devices and services.

Planned goals and objectives of the GOAL-AT Project include: 1) to establish a permanent and separate account with a financial institution on Guam utilizing a proposal process; 2) to generate policies and procedures for GOAL-AT; 3) to formulate and disseminate a Request For Proposal for a community based organization that has individuals with disabilities involved in organizational decision making at all organizational levels to administer the project; 4) to advertise the availability of the GOAL-AT program and the applications for loans; 5) to work with interested applicants to determine specific assistive technology needed to facilitate independence and participation in the community; 6) to provide training on assistive technology for recipients of a loan on the particular device they acquire to ensure appropriate usage; 7) to provide follow up monitoring and technical assistance to recipients of the loan program; and 8) to maintain data and reporting information on the status and success of program and status of funding.

The short-term goal of the program is to expand opportunities for individuals with disabilities and their family members, guardians, advocates, and authorized representative to purchase assistive technology. The long-term outcome is to establish a nationwide network of permanent state AFPs that promote independence and choice. Guam’s AFP project GOAL-AT supports President Bush’s New Freedom Initiative to create opportunities for individuals with disabilities for assistive technology, which will promote choice, independence, and community inclusion.

Illinois TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program
The Illinois Department of Human Services’ alternative financing program, the TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program was established through funds made available under the second round of Title III AT Act grants. The Department of Human Services, Office of Rehabilitation Services selected the Illinois Assistive Technology Project (IATP), as the community based organization responsible for the program’s administration. IATP has been the state’s Title I AT Act program grantee for the past 14 years. The TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program assists individuals with disabilities and their families in borrowing money to obtain the assistive technology devices and services, including home modifications, they need to learn, work and live independently in the community. In many cases the TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program has also assisted individuals with disabilities and their families to establish a positive credit history. The TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program is targeted statewide to individuals with disabilities and their families who historically have had difficulty obtaining or repaying traditional bank loans. By lowering interest, offering extended repayment plans, and/or relaxing standards for determining credit worthiness, individuals with disabilities and their families for whom a loan would otherwise be completely out of reach now have a chance to finance needed assistive technology.

Through this grant, IATP will be able to expand its current TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program, making its available to more citizens with disabilities statewide. The consumer-controlled Advisory Committee for the TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program will further refine the program’s policies and procedures to maximize the number of individuals with disabilities and their families that can benefit from the program. The TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program will continue to promote its accessible on-line loan application form, which is available in English and Spanish, as well as, all other formats. This approach simplifies the loan application process for individuals with disabilities and their families and ensures a timelier processing of the loan applications. The overall purpose of the TechConnect Low Interest Loan Program is to provide an option to the greatest barrier preventing individuals with disabilities from obtaining needed assistive technology devices, services and home modifications – lack of funding!

Iowa AFP and Telework Loan Programs
In an effort to assist individuals with disabilities in Iowa, the State, represented by the Iowa Finance Authority is partnering with two community based organizations: The Iowa Able Foundation and The Abilities Fund. The purpose of this partnership will be to administer two separate loan programs that will provide loan guarantees and interest rate buy downs on loans as well as offering non-guaranteed direct-to-consumer loans. The first loan program is the Alternative Financing Program (AFP) with the purpose of supplementing existing Federal, State and private mechanisms that allow individuals with disabilities, their guardians, advocates and representatives, to obtain home modifications and assistive technology equipment and services to become more independent and productive. The second loan program is the Access to Telework Fund Program. Through this initiative individuals with disabilities will be able to access the financial resource necessary to purchase computers, software, peripherals and other equipment deemed necessary to become employed or self-employed through a home based or Telework setting.

The Iowa AFP and Telework loan programs will develop and implement policies and procedures beneficial to achieving the short term goals of mediating the financial barriers that have traditionally limited individuals with disabilities from obtaining the necessary assistive technology they require. The AFP and Telework programs will be administered in a manner that will allow consumers to receive technical assistance throughout the application process, a timely and fair decision making process and financial products that best meet the situation and need of the consumer.

The Iowa AFP program will work to achieve the long term goals of bringing independence and inclusion to individuals with disabilities who previously lacked the financial resources to obtain the home modifications, transportation and assistive technology available.

The long tem goals of the Iowa Telework program focus on the sustained employment and self-employment opportunities offered from a home based setting. It is the belief of the administrative partnership that when given the proper tools and assistance, telework and entrepreneurial opportunities from the home offer a significant advantage for competitive income earning potential while minimizing the constraints of travel, accessibility and related obstacles that disability may present. The benefits of the partnership between Iowa Able and the Abilities Fund lie in the expertise and ability of the two partners to identify and gather the supplementary resources that are available for training, technical assistance and financial programs that will offer a higher level of sustainability. The Iowa Telework program will work to market individuals with disabilities to employers as well as work with the Iowa Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program to utilize successful approaches to facilitating income potential.

The Iowa AFP and Telework programs will operate primarily as loan guarantee resources to maintain the availability of program dollars. Additionally, it will be the responsibility of all parties involved to seek ongoing financial support to maintain and grow these programs with the ultimate goals of establishing permanent programs that will benefit Iowans with disabilities for years to come.

Kansas Alternative Finance Program
The Assistive Technology for Kansans Project (ATK), coordinated by the University of Kansas at Parsons, and its non-profit partner, Kansas Assistive Technology Cooperative (KATCO) operate a financial loan program for the purchase of assistive technology devices and services necessary for independence, inclusion, learning, and employment. The program is directed by persons with disabilities and provides the financial guarantee necessary for personal financing of devices such as adapted vehicles, communication devices, hearing and vision aids, powered wheelchairs, scooters, and other mobility aids. Alternative Financing Program funding received in FY 2003 will provide the funds necessary for this program to continue and will support the expansion of financing options.

Program development activities include reviewing and implementing additional financing options that would result in increased consumer choice and control. The KATCO Advisory Board will review financing options for the Alternative Finance Program. The FY 2000 AFP loan program offered consumers access to a low-interest loan fund, a revolving loan fund, and a loan guarantee or insurance program. With the FY 2003 award, the KATCO Advisory Board will consider adding an interest buy-down program and a program operated by a partnership among private entities for the purchase, lease, or other acquisition of AT devices or AT services.

Dissemination and Outreach efforts for the Alternative Finance programs will include public service announcements, media campaigns, informational booths at state and regional meetings, direct mailing, articles in newspapers, and presentations made to disability and non-disability groups. Assistive Technology providers and Durable Medical Equipment vendors will be involved in media outreach efforts and will be included in public awareness efforts.

Data regarding applicant characteristics, device selection, impact of access to technology, and employment outcomes will be collected and shared with the national database. Information and outcomes will be shared with policymakers.

Kentucky Assistive Technology Loan Corporation (KATLC)
With this grant award, the Kentucky Assistive Technology Loan Corporation (KATLC) will expand its alternative financing program for assistive technology with Fifth Third Bank of Kentucky. Since the summer of 2000, KATLC and Fifth Third Bank have been providing low interest loans for assistive technology. To date, a total of $672,668 has been loaned to ninety-seven individuals for vehicle and vehicle modifications, hearing aids, computers and computer adaptations, wheelchairs and other mobility devices, and prosthetics. KATLC currently has $1.62 million on deposit at Fifth Third Bank. With this grant, KATLC will further expand its lending potential.

The consumer-controlled KATLC Board of Directors has striven to develop an efficient and consumer-friendly loan application process. Through the use of an e-group and with direct access to Fifth Third loan officers, KATLC processes application in a timely manner, providing an answer in three days or less to the great majority of applicants.

In three short years, KATLC has developed an important place in the continuum of services available to Kentuckians with disabilities. It has enabled many individuals to obtain the benefits of assistive technology. It has had a major impact on many lives. This grant allows , KATLC to further expand its lending capacity and provide this funding option to more people.

Maryland Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program
The Assistive Technology Guaranteed Loan Program (ATGLP) provides loan guarantees and interest buy-downs for assistive technology (AT) loans to Maryland residents with disabilities. Under this new grant, the program will introduce partial principal buy-downs as a more cost-effective alternative to interest buy-downs. Since its inception in December 1999, the ATGLP has established a success record placing it in the forefront of AT loan programs, approving 282 loans (227 guaranteed, 55 non-guaranteed) totaling over $3.67 million. 240 of these loans have closed to date (189 guarantees, 51 non-guaranteed) totaling over $3.15 million; the remaining loans are pending. Direct mail marketing and superior customer service (yielding numerous word-of-mouth referrals) have spurred the project’s success.

The projects partnerships institute innovations that make it a national model, including the following:

1. Multiple lenders – Two banks and one statewide credit union participate in the program. Three provide guaranteed loans; two offer discounted rates for non-guaranteed loans. Multiple lenders provide borrows and the program with a choice of options, and the program with leverage to negotiate better terms among all lenders. The program is now seeking a partnership with Digital Credit Union.

2. Reduced costs for AT purchase – The AT Co-Op offers exclusive purchase discounts to borrowers.

3. Increased income and resources for borrowers to help them afford AT – Benefits InfoSource and the Benefits Resource Center will assist borrowers to use SSI and Social Security work incentives to retain higher cash benefits, while the Maryland Center for Community Development will link borrowers with service providers matching funds for their savings set aside for AT purchase.

4. Alternative resources for AT evaluation and training – No Boundaries and the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind provide evaluations, while Learning Independence through Computers (LINC) offers computer training for borrowers.

Created by Maryland statute and initially funded through a state appropriation and two Title III grants from NIDRR, the program is administered by an independent, community-based, volunteer Board of Directors. Five of the nine current Directors – including the President and Secretary – are persons with disabilities. The Board oversees all operations, including setting policy, approving and declining lenders and managing fiscal affairs. Staff operate the program under the Board’s direction. Staff provide information and referral to applicants; handle administrative tasks related to loan guarantees and interest buy-downs; and market the program through direct mail, partnerships with broad coalition of disability groups and service organizations, news articles, and presentations.

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission
The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) will develop the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program, a low interest loan program for assistive technology equipment and services for individuals with disabilities in Massachusetts.

MRC will convene stakeholder meetings of state agency representatives, disability organization representatives, advocates and individuals with disabilities to finalize program design. MRC will contract with a Community Based Organization (CBO) who in conjunction with a lending institution will be the entity that will approve/disapprove loan applications, disburse funds and collect all program data.

The loan programs will work with regionally located Assistive Technology Access Points (ATAPs). ATAPs will be local sites where people with disabilities will make application for AT and AT services. People with disabilities will have choice in their ATAP, which will include a range of disability and elder organizations. The ATAP staff will conduct intake, determine program eligibility, and provide resource information to help the consumer in identifying the AT most suitable to their needs, where to purchase AT equipment and how to get the best price. The ATAP will submit the request for loan to the CBO/lending institution for approval.

MRC will include people with disabilities and family members of people with disabilities in all aspects of the program planning, design, implementation, oversight and evaluation of the program. Project funds have been set aside to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that individuals with disabilities have access to participate in these activities. Project funds will also be used to contract with Individual Consumer Consultants to be meaningfully involved in a paid capacity to guarantee substantial consumer involvement from the earliest stages of the Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program.

People with disabilities require a range of assistive technology devices and services to live in the community. This grant will enhance and increase the availability of funding for the purchase of these devices and services and give control to the user in the choice of AT equipment and providers. This project will complement and support many of the state's other grant/projects through the federal Freedom Initiative including the Nursing Facility Transition Grant, Real Choices Systems Change Grant, Medicaid Infrastructure Grant and other initiatives underway as a result the Massachusetts Enhancing Community Based Services (Olmstead Plan).

Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund
The Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund is a project of the Michigan Department of Career Development – Rehabilitation Services; the Michigan Disability Right Coalition (MDRC), the Community-Based Organization required by the priority; United Cerebral Palsy of Michigan, which administers the fund; several local disability organizations, and the Financial Health Credit Union of Lansing, MI (FHCU).

Individuals with disabilities in Michigan are the target groups of the Fund, the goal of which is that "people with disabilities in Michigan are able to obtain, either through Project loans or through other means, assistive technology equipment and service." Key objectives for the new grant are the following:

* Expand the number of local disability organizations serving as counseling and intake sites.

* Expand the outreach of the fund to underserved populations including minorities, people living in economically disadvantaged areas, and individuals/living in rural communities.

* Approve loans for 75 People with disabilities to enable them to purchase assistive technology devices and services that will enable them to achieve increased independence.

Five key attributes distinguish the Loan Fund as an effective tool to meets its purpose. First, it was developed by and is being implemented by people with disabilities with extensive experience with assistive technology. Second, the Fund adopted Principles and Values that demonstrate its commitment to client-driven, client-chosen services. Third, the planning process of the Fund has involved a wide variety of stakeholders, particularly people with disabilities, in a genuinely collaborative process, with the result that it enjoys strong support statewide. Fourth, the Loan Fund’s partnership with local disability organizations, which serve as local intake and counseling points for loan applicants, is a unique design element.

While the Fund is strongly committed to the principle that persons with disabilities should make their own choices about AT, these organizations, many of which are Centers for Independent Living (CILs), are uniquely situated to provide applicants with information to help them make informed choices about AT. Additionally, the organizations are knowledgeable about sources of funding other than loans and about AT services such as training, equipment trial before purchase, and repair, all of which enhance AT success.

Finally, the Loan Fund results demonstrate its ability to develop an excellent, well-managed Loan Fund that provides high quality services to people with disabilities.

The Loan Fund is governed by MDRC’s Board of Directors, most of whose members have disabilities and is administered by UCP Michigan. A Loan Committee composed of people with disabilities who use AT and two bankers approves loan guarantees.

Minnesota Alternative Funding Mechanism Project
Most individuals with disabilities do not have the private financial recourses to purchase the assistive technology (AT) devices and services, they need. Major service programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and vocational rehabilitation cannot meet the growth demand for AT.

A Minnesota statewide need assessment completed in 1998 found the most common barrier to assistive technology was funding. Of the 124 respondents, 61% indicated funding to be the primary obstacle in acquiring needed AT devices and services.

In Minnesota, the Alternative Finance Program (AFP), is managed by Assistive Technology of Minnesota (ATMN), a statewide organization. Under the current model, ATMN provides a low interest loan to consumers, their families and employers for the purchase of assistive technology devices and services. ATMN serves a small number of individuals with disabilities. In 2003, ATMN received over 40 inquiries and processed 11 loans. Limited financial support for the development of the AFP has impeded ATMN’s ability to serve the varying needs of people with disabilities. Under this new grant, Assistive Technology of Minnesota will re-structure its Alternative Finance Program by expanding the financial options available to people with disabilities for the purchase of assistive technology devices and services. Re-structuring the current model by adding a revolving loan program and a loan guarantee will provide options to meet the varying financial needs of individuals with disabilities.

Establishing a revolving loan program and loan guarantee will provide funding opportunities for people, who in the past were ineligible for a traditional loan. The revolving loan fund will provide ATMN with continued funding, as the revenues generated through the program are reinvested sustaining the program for many years in the future.

It is important to expand awareness about the benefits of assistive technology so that people with disabilities can take advantage of assistive technology devices and services for employment, mobility, in their homes and their independence. ATMN collaborates with state and local groups to increase awareness about the benefits of assistive technology. Collaborating with other nonprofit groups and building new relationships will enable ATMN to reach out to all areas and all disability groups in the state.

Expanding options by re-structuring the AFP and reaching out into communities that are unaware of the benefits of AT, ATMN will support individuals with disabilities to acquire the devices and services needed for a more independent life. The outcomes of the program shift will directly affect people with disabilities from all walks of life, children in the classroom, seniors remaining in their own homes and improve employment opportunities.

Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership
The Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership will establish an alternative loan financing program. The development of an alternative loan financing program in Nebraska will provide low interest loans to qualified individuals with disabilities to increase access to and utilization of assistive technology devices and assistive technology services. Interest and principal will be returned to the original permanent separate account to establish a revolving loan fund in order to make additional loans.

The Nebraska Assistive Technology Partnership will contract with a community based non-profit organization to develop and implement a low interest revolving loan program. A financial institution will be selected to provide low interest loans, ranging from 0-3% interest, to individuals with disabilities and their families.

New Mexico Alternative Financing Mechanism Program (NMAFP)
The New Mexico Alternative Financing Mechanism Program (NMAFP) will be established by contracting with a community based organization to manage the loan program through a commercial lending institution for persons with disabilities throughout the State. The NMAFP funds will be placed in a separate permanent account that is identified and accounted for separately from other funds per Sec. 303 (b) (5).

The NMAFP program services will include contracting with a community based organization that has individuals with disabilities involved in organizational decision making to administer the program and abide by Title III of the AT Act. The NMAFP program will provide statewide outreach to provide awareness of the loan program including accessible electronic and printed information to assist users to seek, find, and obtain loans for assistive technology needs.

The NMAFP will establish a low interest and interest buy-down program what will involve a loan guarantee to lower rates and allow higher risk loans. State-of-the-art accessibility methods regarding outreach, loan processing, and consumer support services will be employed including the use of the toll-free telephone consulting, and information navigation and accommodation assistance.

The NMAFP will continue on a permanent basis and the State of New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and New Mexico Technology Assistance Program will assure that reporting requirements, consumer choice, and a permanent separate account is established. In addition, the funds made available through this grant will not supplant other federal, state, or local public funds expended to provide alternative financing mechanisms.

North Dakota Interagency Program for Assistive Technology
Protection & Advocacy (P & A), a State agency, in collaboration with the Interagency Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT) is committed to establishing a consumer-controlled Alternative Financial Loan Program (AFLP) in North Dakota. The purpose of the Program is to expand personal financing options for North Dakotans with disabilities and their families for the purchase of assistive technology devices and services. The plan will be realized through: 1) establishing a guaranteed loan program with lower interest rates and buy-down mechanism for the purpose of purchasing assistive technology; 2) contracting with a Community Based Organization (CBO) to administer the AFLP to ensure consumer control; 3) developing and implementing a statewide public awareness and information dissemination plan to market the AFLP; 4) developing and implementing a plan to address the sustainability and permanence of the AFLP; and 5) developing outcome measurement tools and reporting systems to provide a mechanism to measure effectiveness of the program and to monitor and improve the quality of service.

P & A and IPAT’s critical partners in the establishment of the North Dakota AFLP include: 1) the North Dakota Association for the Disabled (NDAD); a community based organization (CBO), 2) the IPAT Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC), made up entirely of persons or family members with disabilities; 3) the Bank of North Dakota (BND); 4) Centers for Independent Living (CILs); and 5) a financial institution. IPAT and partners are structured to provide statewide services, reaching consumers in all regions of the rural state.

The design of the North Dakota AFLP is in response to a statewide stakeholders meeting, a statewide needs assessment, and a 12-member taskforce. The AFLP will offer low-interest, guaranteed and non-guaranteed loans, for a wide range of technology devices and services. The Program will offer counseling services at all steps of the loan process, guidance in the area of selecting assistive technology, and information regarding other funding options. The program will be easy and convenient to access at a variety of regional sites. People will become aware of the availability of this funding option through a statewide marketing campaign. Future plans for sustainability are being investigated and include private foundations and legislative action.

The people of North Dakota are extremely independent and proud. A low-interest guaranteed financial loan program is an agreeable system in which they may obtain needed AT devices and services and still maintain their pride and autonomy.

Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas - Trankilu
The CNMI Council on Developmental Disabilities, an independent State Advocacy agency for individuals with developmental disabilities will create Trankilu (Tranquil), a Northern Mariana Islands Alternative Financing Program (AFP) which will be administered by the Assistive Technology Project. The program will offer qualified individuals with disabilities affordable loans to purchase assistive technology, adapted vehicles and/or home modifications. Within five years, the goal is to be operating a sustainable one million dollar revolving loan fund with additional programs such as interest buy-down and loan guarantee. The Trankilu will provide assistance to CNMI citizens who wish to build their asset base, financial well being, and have access to low cost financial service.

Oklahoma Alternative Financing Program
Oklahoma State University, Seretean Wellness Center, the lead agency for Oklahoma ABLE Tech (ABLE Tech), will operate an Alternative Financing Program (AFP) under Title III of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998. The purpose is to enhance and maintain the existing "Alternative Financing Program", a partnership between ABLE Tech, Oklahoma Assistive Technology Foundation (OkAT) and BancFirst of Stillwater. ABLE Tech will continue to contract with OkAT, a community-based organization established and directed by a majority of persons with disabilities. The overall program goal of the AFP will be to increase access to and funding of assistive technology devices and services (AT) for the targeted population which will include all Oklahomans with disabilities or their authorized representative.

ABLE Tech will continue to implement both a low-interest loan fund and a loan guaranty program. ABLE Tech assures Oklahomans with disabilities, and their authorized representatives, low-interest, longer-term loans with customized underwriting standards for the purchase of AT. In addition, for Oklahomans that do not meet BancFirst of Stillwater’s loan criteria, OkAT, under established policies and procedures, can guaranty a low interest loan for the purchase of AT. All AFP loans, guaranteed or non-guaranteed, will have the same low interest rate of two percentage points (2%) about the Well Street Journal Daily Prime Interest Rate for a term up to sixty (60) months. The federal, state, and private funds will be deposited into a separate permanent account that will be used to leverage substantial private sector dollars from BancFirst of Stillwater to loan funds to the targeted population for the purchase of AT.

Since October 1, 2001, ABLE Tech has continually participated in the national data base collection of AFP applicants and borrowers. ABLE Tech has provided both programmatic data and individual information of the following: (1) information on the type of alternative financing mechanisms used, (2) demographic information on the consumer that includes age, type of disability, type of AT financed, geographic location within the state, gender and whether the person is underrepresented or rural, (3) number of loan applications, loans, interest rate, amount and term of the loans, (4) purpose and type of AT purchased, (5) number of applicants denied and reason for denial, (6) default rate and net losses, and (7) State loan capacity.

Since October 1, 2001, BancFirst has obligated over $724,000 in private funds to provide low interest loans for AT, of that amount only $240,000 has been guaranteed by OkAT. OkAT have set aside $266,000 creating a 3 to 1 ratio of private funds to public funds. The default rate is less than 1% with a net loss of only $7,400. Permanence of the program will continue through various activities, such as interest income, seeking private foundation funding, wise investment of capital, low default rates, continuous evaluation of loan policies and the involvement of consumers in all levels of the decision making loan process. ABLE Tech, OkAT and BancFirst of Stillwater stay committed to the success of this program on behalf of Oklahomans with disabilities needing assistive technology.

Pennsylvania Alternative Financing Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) proposes to increase access to assistive technology devices and services for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and older residents by increasing its support for the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Alternative Financing Program. DCED will enter into a contract with the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) to administer a low-interest loan program with a guarantee component for borrowers who require additional support. The guarantee monies operate as a revolving fund. As guaranteed loans are repaid, equivalent amounts from the fund are freed up to guarantee new loans.

Goals for 2003-04 include increasing the total number of new borrowers by 25% to 100, increasing the proportion of minority, limited English-speaking and senior citizen participants to 15% of this total, making a special outreach effort to older Pennsylvanians (with special emphasis on hearing and vision aids), and maintaining the interest rate charges to participating borrows at 3.5% for the entire year regardless of market-rate fluctuations.

As a community-based organization under contract to DCED, PATF will be responsible for conducting and/or overseeing all aspects of the program in Pennsylvania, including planning and implementing new outreach to older Pennsylvanians, minority and limited English-speaking communities. PATF will also oversee activities in support of program to be carried out under an agreement with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University. The Institute will provide coordination and training to strengthen the capacity of PATF’s network of funding assistance centers (FACs), provide counseling to individuals regarding other funding sources, and collect data needed to complete the annual project evaluation. PATF will also strengthen its own capacity to serve the public by adopting new plans for organizational development, diversification of funding, and better use of information technology.

South Carolina Assistive Technology Loan Program
Independence can provide a person with disability a sense of self-sufficiency and enhanced self-esteem, can define perceived self-worth, and increase a person's overall sense of well being. However, independence for citizens with disabilities has not yet been fully realized in South Carolina. One of the major contributions to this discrepancy is the lack of financial resources. Currently, the major service programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and vocational rehabilitation programs cannot meet the growing demand for assistive technology devices for all citizens with disabilities. These factors only intensify the financial strain the 800,000 plus South Carolinians with disabilities face when purchasing assistive technology devices and services.

The Alternative Financing mechanism program will address these issues by providing the financial support needed to increase access to assistive technologies, expand educational opportunities, increase integration into the workforce, and promote access to daily community living. Through the implementation of the South Carolina Assistive Technology Loan Program (SCAT), South Carolinians with disabilities, regardless of age, race, or gender, can apply for loans designed to aid I the purchase of assistive technology devices and services. The program will include an interest buy-down program and a guaranteed loan program.

The grantee agency of the SCAT program is the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department (SCVRD). SCVRD will provide the non-federal match requirement and provide support to The Foundation for Independence through Employment (The Foundation), the administrating agent of the program. The Foundation, composed of a majority of individuals with disabilities in decision making roles, will manage the overall daily operation of the program. The Foundation will develop the policies and procedures for the program, enter into an agreement with a commercial lending institution, and market the program to all South Carolinians with disabilities.

Utah Alternative Financing Mechanisms Program
Assistive technology increases independence, productivity and quality of life for children and adults with disabilities. However, obtaining adequate funding for assistive technology devices and services is one of the largest barriers for people with disabilities, throughout Utah and the United States. The population of Utah is growing at a tremendous rate, including individuals with disabilities and those in traditionally underrepresented populations.

In 1991, several disability-related entities in Utah developed the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation (UATF), which entered into a collaborative partnership with a regional bank to provide low interest loans for AT devices and services. The UATF, a community-based organization, is governed by a board with a majority of individuals with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities. The activities of this program under this grant are designed to expand the benefits and services of the UATF for all Utahans with particular attention focused on those in underrepresented populations.

Funding is requested by the Center for Persons with Disabilities (CPD) at Utah State University to expand the benefits and services of the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation. During the 12 months of this project, the CPD and UATDF will: (a) expand consumer choice and control of the UATF services; (b) maintain the zero / low interest loans buy down program for AT devices and services; (c) increase the number of approved loans for assistive technology devices and services; (d) develop, implement, and evaluate a targeted outreach initiative to underrepresented populations, thus increasing the number of individuals in Utah who receive zero / low interest loans to purchase the AT devices and services they need; (e) increase the endowment fund, enabling the UATF to earn interest that can be used for future interest buy down and future administrative support; and (f) design a comprehensive process and outcome evaluation plan that will assist in evaluating the effectiveness of the UATF in meeting its mandate and continuing the consumer-responsive UATF on a permanent basis.

Expanding the current services offered by UATF will enable greater numbers of individuals with disabilities to increase their independence in home, school, work, and community setting. The CPD, along with the UATF Board and staff, will be responsible for ensuring that these services are implemented on an ongoing, permanent basis, and that the UATF, in partnership wit Zions Bank, will offer a consumer-responsive alternative financing option for Utahans with disabilities.

Vermont Development Ventures Assistive Technology Loan Fund
The mission of the proposed Vermont Development Ventures Assistive Technology Loan Fund ("New Fund") will be to enhance the physical and economic self-sufficiency of Vermonters with disabilities to the maximum extent possible through affordable counseling-based lending. A Title III Assistive Technology Loan Fund award will enable Vermont to expand its alternative lending to the scale its population requires. Looking to Maine as the national model, Vermont will pursuer an ambitious plan to create a comprehensive $2.5 million alternative financing program to help meet the needs of over 48,000 households in Vermont who have an individual with a disability.

Vermont was among the first group of states to create an assistive technology fund. In existence for a decade, the Vermont Adaptive Equipment Revolving Loan Fund ("Existing Fund") had provided $1,500,000 in affordable and flexible financing over the last seven years to more than 250 Vermonters. The Existing Fund is a partnership among the Vermont Assistive Technology Program, the Adaptive Equipment Revolving Loan Fund Board and the Vermont Development Credit Union (VDCU). Its present portfolio of loans to Vermonters with disabilities is just over $500,000. The Existing Fund’s successful lending results from the disability wisdom of its Loan Board plus VDCU’s expertise in counseling-based lending. Nevertheless, while the fund has enjoyed solid success to date, the demand for its resources will soon outstrip its capacity.

The New Fund will supplement, optimize and expand the work of the Existing Fund. The New Fund will more then double the alternative financing currently available and exponentially expand help to disabled Vermonters. To maximize the alternative financing impact, the VDV AT Loan Fund will:

1. Create extensive marketing to reach and provide information to more Vermonters with disabilities and generate more applications.

2. Offer an array of counseling-based services to help more low-income Vermonters with disabilities qualify for loans.

3. Dedicate additional resources to continually improve products, operations and efficiencies.

4. Increase the number of loans made and dollars distributed.

5. Integrate with The Existing Fund to achieve economies of scale, maximize cost-efficiency and provide seamless service.

6. Utilize the proven resources of an established community development financial institution with experience in serving disabled Vermonters for the administration, marketing, origination, underwriting and loan servicing.

7. Capitalize on an existing investment in sophisticated MIS to track the impact of the New Fund.

8. Make available the full benefits of VDCU’s mission as a community development financial institution to the disability market.

US Virgin Islands
The US Virgin Islands (USVI) has unique cultural, geographic and economic barriers that make the acquisition of assistive technology more difficult than in other parts of the United States. Over 85% of the total population is comprised of a traditionally underrepresented group that is spread over 4 islands. While nearly half are "native" islanders, many come from surrounding islands/countries and represent many diverse cultures. Residents of USVI are not beneficiaries of public programs that often provide assistive technology (i.e., Medicaid). Financial resources for assistive technology in programs such as independent living are also very limited. This grant will develop and promote an alternative financing program (interest buy-down and loan guarantee) in the USVI. It is hoped that this program will be implemented with partners such as a service-oriented Community Based Foundation (CBF), First Bank or Virgin Islands Capital Resources, Inc. (VI Cap), individuals with disabilities, their family members, guardians, advocates and the Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (VIUCEDD).

The main mission of this program is to help the approximately 8,000 USVI residents with disabilities purchase AT devices and services that may be required for independence in the home, workplace and community. VIUCEDD will implement public awareness activities and provide overall administration of the program. The CBF will administer the loan program and establish an endowment fund to maintain the Virgin Islands Alternative Financing Program for Assistive Technology (VIAFP) in perpetuity. The endowment fund will enable the VIAFP to become self-sustaining and independent of future federal funding. Partners will collaborate to market the program to consumer groups, service providers and other potential beneficiaries throughout the territory.

Virginia Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority (ATLFA)
Virginia’s Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) in collaboration with the Assistive Technology Loan Fund Authority will use its new grant to expand the state's Alternative Financing Program (AFP) under Title III of the Assistive Technology (AT) Act of 1998. The purpose is to expand one of the finest AFP program in the nation, increasing access to and funding for assistive technology, and in the process, creating a perpetual loan fund. In 2000 and again in 2001, The Dept. of Education awarded the largest grants in the country to Virginia. Since 1997, the ATLFA has made over $4,600,000 in low-interest and guaranteed loans for individuals who are unable to qualify for traditional credit financing.

Federal funds will allow the expansion of the existing program to assist individuals with disabilities and their families to acquire adaptive technology devices and equipment, to purchase vehicles with modification and to obtain home modifications for accessibility. Funds will be set aside for rehabilitation engineering and assistive technology assessment services at the Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center in Fishersville, The ATLFA will contract with Children’s Hospital in Richmond to demonstrate assistive technology, provide Assistive Technology services and to provide short-term equipment loans. Other funds will also be set aside for the establishment of three regional loan application centers, which will assist consumers in device selection and application and will also be responsible for telephone surveys to complete NIDRR data requirements.

Virginians with disabilities, their family members, and eligible businesses will obtain low-interest, longer-term loans for accommodations and the purchase of assistive technology devices and services. SunTrust Bank will continue to provide loan financing and administration. Other partners include the Virginia’s Centers for Independent Living, which will provide Consumer Counseling for device selection, application completion, and financial counseling, the Virginia Assistive Technology System (VATS), the Virginia Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired, the Virginia Department for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Children’s Hospital of Richmond.

This year, a portion of the federal funds will enable the ATLFA to extend loans to the business community for accessibility. The ATLFA will also establish a new program for low-income individuals with disabilities. This innovative and new direction will enable people with disabilities who would not normally be eligible even for an ATLFA guaranteed loan to:

* Obtain loans at 0% interest.

* Extend the term of loans beyond that of any other AFP to meet consumer needs.

* Make loans based on the borrower’s ability to contribute monthly.

Washington Alternative Financing Project
Washington’s Department of Community Trade and Economic Development ("CTED") will establish an alternative financing program and an access to telework loan program.

Matching funds will be provided by the Washington Assistive Technology Foundation (WATF) which also will serve as the CBO. WATF is a non-profit community development financial institution (CDFI) founded and controlled by Washington residents with disabilities.

AFP funding will be used to provide low interest loans for Washington residents with disabilities for assistive technology and home and vehicle accessibility modifications. These loans will be provided through a direct lending program operated by WATF and through contract with other commercial lenders potentially including commercial banks, credit unions and/or CDFI’s. The commercial lender(s) will be chosen within the first twelve months of the project.

Potential borrowers will be offered financial counseling and financial literacy education, information on AT selection, assistance with PASS plan preparation and information about, and referral to, appropriate AT professionals and providers. These services will be provided directly by WATF and/or through referral to other state and private entities.

Project evaluation will focus on the extent to which the AFP improved access to assistive technology, the impact of improved access on outcomes with respect to the independent living, education, employment and participation in community life. The AFP also will examine the impact of its project on financial literacy, financial management skills and debt reduction.

Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS)
The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) will enhance services provided through WisLoan, its Alternative Financing Program, for the purchase of assistive technology (AT). The WisLoan program is funded under Title III of the Assistive Technology Act (AT Act) of 1998.

The DHFS manages programs that address the same consumer-directed goals as WisLoan. In 1981, Wisconsin created the Community Options Program to provide resources for community-based long-term support and was one of the original states to implement home and community-based waivers. The work unit that manages the WisLoan Program operates the Wisconsin Disability Benefit Specialist Program, WisTech (Wisconsin’s AT Act Title I Program), the Nursing Facility Transition Program, and Wisconsin’s Independent Living Centers.

The DHFS will contract with IndependenceFirst to continue the WisLoan program to facilitate provision of low-interest loans, made by Marshall & Illsey Bank (M&I), its banking partner, for the purchase of AT by Wisconsin citizens with disabilities. IndependenceFirst, a community-based and consumer controlled organization, will manage WisLoan and will maintain its partnership with M&I and Wisconsin’s Independent Living Centers (ILCs) to provide statewide consumer access to WisLoan.

Wyoming Technology Access Program
The Wyoming New Options in Technology (WYNOT) program is Wyoming’s assistive technology program under the AT Act and is administered by the Wyoming INstitute for Disabilities (WIND), College of Health Sciences, University of Wyoming (UW). In 2001, WYNOT began a collaborative effort with Wyoming Independent Living Rehabilitation, Inc. (WILR), a private non-profit center for independent living, and the First Interstate Bank of Laramie (FIBL) to initiate an AT alternative financing program (AFP). The Wyoming Technology Access Program (WYTAP) was created, became effective on November 11, 2002 and is currently providing low or no interest loans to consumers in Wyoming for assistive technology. WILR serves as the Community Based Organization (CBO) for the WYTAP program. The purpose of this new grant is to ensure that WYTAP will be a self sustaining program far into the future.

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