Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana will use a Vantage Grant from AWS Foundation to accelerate expansion of disability services throughout northeast Indiana.

The funding is one of five Vantage Grants totaling $4,665,087 announced by AWS Foundation on Wednesday. In Phase 1 of the Vantage Grant program, disability services providers were given funds to collect and analyze data for six months in order to identify and determine ways to address significant barriers or organizational challenges to services for individuals and families whose lives are impacted by an intellectual, developmental, or physical disability. Easterseals Arc worked with the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne to study geographic inequity in support services available in rural vs. urban areas.

“We’re very grateful to AWS Foundation for creating a grant program that will truly transform lives,” said Donna Elbrecht, Easterseals Arc CEO and President. “This grant will allow us to expand services in areas of northeast Indiana where people with intellectual or developmental disabilities have less access to vital supports.”

Easterseals Arc’s plan for the funds spans three years and includes:

  • Hiring Direct Support Professionals in Steuben and Whitley counties to provide respite services, giving much-needed breaks to caregivers of those with disabilities
  • Creating staff positions dedicated to inclusion, ensuring that person-centered community-based services are available in all counties served by Easterseals Arc, Easterseals Passages and Easterseals RISE
  • Offering vocational training that leads to certifications and credentials for employment
  • Collaborating with educational institutions to develop or purchase curricula with an emphasis on independent living skills, financial literacy, health and wellness and a host of other topics
  • Developing informational campaigns to spread awareness of availability of services in each market; advantages of using the services; and processes for eligibility and enrollment

“People with disabilities deserve equity, inclusion, and access whether they live in a community of 300,000 people or 3,000 people,” Elbrecht said. “Individuals and families in Angola, Fort Wayne, Columbia City and every other city and town in our area have hopes and dreams. With this grant we can expand the opportunities available to them.”

About AWS Foundation
Founded in 2007, AWS Foundation supports a wide range of organizations in northeast Indiana working to develop a community in which people with enduring intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities are engaged fully and meaningfully in all aspects of community life. For more information, visit awsfoundation.org.