The AS&F Foundation awarded $5 million to Braille Institute of America, Inc. (BIA) early last month. The gift represents the largest single donation ever awarded to BIA by a foundation. The $5 million gift will play a substantial role in helping BIA transform and sustain its vital Low Vision Program.
“As a long-time supporter of Braille Institute, we recognize the value of its free services for people with severe vision loss in our communities,” says John Llewellyn, AS&F Foundation Trustee and President. “The Foundation is proud to contribute to an endowment for low vision services as a way to help Braille Institute serve people today and into the future.”
Currently, thousands of people with low vision due to conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration participate in Braille Institute’s Low Vision Program every year. Through free, one-on-one consultations, individuals with vision loss receive recommendations about maximizing their remaining vision as well as advice about accessible mainstream technology tools and other community resources. According to a recent National Health Interview Survey, more than 20 million adult Americans reported vision loss that cannot be corrected with glasses or contacts.
Thanks to AS&F Foundation’s support, BIA will strengthen its alignment with national best practices for Low Vision Rehabilitation by investing in new skill sets needed to make appropriate recommendations as accessible devices become more sophisticated and needs change within the continuum of care. In addition, these program enhancements will allow BIA to build stronger relationships within the medical community, and thus drive increased referrals for BIA services.
“We’re beyond grateful to the AS&F Foundation for this generous gift. It could not be directed to a more important and strategic program at Braille Institute,” said Peter Mindnich, President, Braille Institute of America. “The Low Vision Program is crucial to our clients’ well-being, and this new funding from AS&F will allow us to increase the quality and impact of this core program.”
ABOUT BRAILLE INSTITUTE OF AMERICA
Braille Institute of America is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe sight loss. It serves thousands of adults and youth each year through a broad range of educational, social and recreational programs designed to help people with vision loss lead enriched and fulfilling lives. Services are provided through six Southern California centers and hundreds of other community locations. Additionally, Braille Institute’s National Programs encourage school age students to pursue braille literacy and orientation and mobility skills. Funded by private donations, all services are free of charge. For more information, visit: BrailleInstitute.org, Facebook.com/BrailleInstitute or on twitter @BrailleInst.
ABOUT AS&F FOUNDATION
The AS&F Foundation was founded by Hubert Eaton in 1951 as the Forest Lawn Foundation, dedicated to “God and Humanity.” Two of Hubert Eaton’s relatives have chaired Braille Institute of America’s Board of Directors: W. W. Eaton, a cousin of Hubert, and Eaton’s grand-nephew, John Llewellyn.
In early 2017, the Foundation’s trustees reviewed the organization’s strategy and decided that making a few, large transformative gifts would have more impact than making many smaller grants to charities over a number of years. Thus, the trustees decided to close the Foundation by distributing all its assets.