Lending program will provide microloans to advance business goals and employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism
Boston, Mass. (July 16, 2018) – Northeast Arc, the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism and Accion announced today the launch of a new program, Opportunity Lending, which will provide microloans to enhance employment and business opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.
Loans ranging from $1,000 to $250,000 will be available to individuals who wish to advance a business or employment goal. They will be offered through the local nonprofit Accion.
“The inability to access loans and other financial assistance is often one of the biggest challenges individuals with intellectual disabilities face as they try to work and achieve new business opportunities,” said Jo Ann Simons, CEO of Northeast Arc. “Opportunity Lending will help fulfill the small business dreams and goals for so many individuals, helping these men and women lead more active and independent lives.”
Northeast Arc is a human services organization that serves and changes the lives of 10,000 children and adults with disabilities and their families each year in about 190 Massachusetts cities and towns. Programs like Opportunity Lending are made possible with the support of the Changing Lives Fund, which was established through a $1 million donation from Steven P. Rosenthal, founder of West Shore, LLC and a resident of Marblehead.
“The Changing Lives Fund supports and advances creative ideas that disrupt traditional ways of providing services so that individuals with disabilities have access to new opportunities,” said Rosenthal. “For too long, it’s been difficult – if not impossible – for people with disabilities to access small loans. Opportunity Lending helps address this gap and makes a dramatic difference so that individuals can achieve their small business goals.”
The Changing Lives Fund was the catalyst for the 2017 Arc Tank launched by Northeast Arc as a competition to fund innovative and positively disruptive ideas that enhance the lives of persons with intellectual disabilities and autism. The Arc Tank project, now in its second year, uncovered a significant unmet need in the disability community as many applicants required seed money to get their projects off the ground which contributed to the creation of the Opportunity Lending initiative.
The Flutie Foundation, which invests in a wide range of collaborative efforts to improve lives for people and families affected by autism, is also supporting the Opportunity Lending initiative. The Foundation has established Flutie Spectrum Enterprises, an initiative creating micro-businesses and other innovations to employ adults with autism.
“We’re proud to let entrepreneurial individuals with autism know that there is a path to crucial funding that will enable them to achieve financial independence,” said Nick Savarese, Executive Director of the Doug Flutie, Jr., Foundation for Autism.
“Accion’s mission is to create a financially inclusive world by creating solutions for individuals who are left out or poorly served by the financial sector,” said Paul Quintero, CEO of Accion in Boston. “We’re pleased to partner with Northeast Arc and the Flutie Foundation on this important program that will help individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism more fully participate in the workforce and economy.”
To apply, interested business owners and individuals can visit us.accion.org.
Accion creates economic opportunity by partnering with small business owners to provide access to the capital and the business support they need to create and grow healthy enterprises and contribute to thriving local economies. Since 1991, Accion has provided more than 60,000 loans totaling over $500 million to small businesses across the country. Accion provides business advising and training services – both in person and through online educational resources – to tens of thousands of entrepreneurs each year. Part of a nationwide network of lenders with deep community roots in Boston, Accion Serving the East Coast reaches small business owners through offices in Boston, New York, Jacksonville, Orlando and Miami, and across 41 states through the internet and local partners. For more information visit us.accion.org.