IBCF is pleased to announce an exciting new partnership with TCC Gives, the community foundation that is supported by TCC Verizon Wireless. Their support for our new program, "Not Just a Phone," will provide ISBVI middle and high school students with iPhones, data plans, and hot spots. Using the BlindSquare app in conjunction with state-of-the-art iBeacon technology, our students will be able to work with our Orientation & Mobility (O&M) teachers to navigate the world in a way that increases their independence, enhances their preparation for life after they leave ISBVI, and supports the skills they need to be successful in college, the workplace, and beyond. We are particularly grateful to TCC Verizon employee Tony Lacharite who has supported this project from the start and will spearhead TCC employees to volunteer to install the technology. Thank you, TCC Gives and Julie Moorehead, for your mission of strengthening communities by helping people!
On November 5, the Butler B.I.G.S. (Bulldog Initiative for a Generous Society) hosted their first Goalball Tournament alongside the ISBVI Goalball team. Goalball came into being just after World War II, and is a sport specifically developed for people who are blind or have low vision. All players wear blindfolds, and it is a fast-paced and competitive sport. Cara Burchett, ISBVI gym teacher, and the ISBVI Goalball team served as mentors for the players recruited by Butler B.I.G.S. and from the Butler Chapter of Delta Gamma, all of whom were trying the sport for the very first time. A great time was had by all!
While our partnership with the Butler B.I.G.S. is new, our school has had a long and meaningful partnership with the young women of the Delta Gamma sorority. In addition to substantial fundraising (over $9K raised in 2018!), these incredible young women volunteer at ISBVI to do various activities with the students like tutoring, game nights, and assist with the IBCF annual Gala. In addition, the ISBVI students visit the Delta Gamma house throughout the year for parties and dinner, and form supportive friendships with college students while still in high school.
In early March, ISBVI will host the Indiana Regional division of the international Braille Challenge for the 11th year, a wonderful competitive event that's completely funded by donations from supporters of the IBCF. This year, thanks to a generous gift from Ossip Optometry, we will also be able to include a Braille Book Fair, modeled in many ways after the book fairs Scholastic has offered for many years to sighted children. With input from some of our students, a dedicated group of ISBVI parents, teachers and staff, as well as board and staff members from the IBCF we have been working hard to flesh out the logistics of making a catalogue and order forms available in both text and Braille for students to submit their top six book choices. Thanks to the support from Ossip, IBCF will be purchasing Braille books our students most want to read (the same kinds of books their sighted peers want to read, only larger and much more expensive) based on their book wish-lists. Each Braille Challenger will receive three books in Braille to take home and continue their love of reading throughout the year. Our deepest thanks to Ossip for their incredible support and for making the joy of choosing books available to all children!
Thank you to all our supporters who made 2018 another record-breaking year! We are happy to share that we provided over $141,000 in support for students, programs and staff at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI) in 2018. This year's "check" was presented to James Durst, ISBVI Superintendent, at the annual Winter Holiday music program. This concert is a fitting venue for this annual presentation, since it showcases the best of what ISBVI is all about: nurtured and supported by teachers, staff, parents, and volunteers, our students are able to step out of their previous comfort zones and work together to create something beautiful. The middle school and high school choirs and bands looked especially beautiful, too, in their new uniforms purchased - by the way - with some of IBCF donor support from 2017!
What, you say? Given our record of weather-related postponements of our annual golf event when we've scheduled it in the summer, how can we possibly think it's a good idea to try it in March? The answer: It's still golf, but with a whole new twist we think you'll love! So put Sunday, March 10 on your calendar, and get ready for IBCF's Topgolf Family Fun(draising) Event. It's competitive. It's fun for the whole family. It's a sport you can enjoy whether you're an aspiring golf pro or whether you're picking up a club for the first time. It’s accessible to the population we serve – that is, easily adaptable for those who are blind or have low vision. Best of all, you play in climate-controlled bays, so you can play in any weather - even if it snows! Stay tuned!
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The Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded the Indiana Blind Children's Foundation a grant to support youth literacy. This grant is part of more than $3.4 million the organization awarded to 915 recipients on August 28, 2018 to programs in 44 states. The School will use the award to purchase additional refreshable Braille display devices for the high school Braille reading classes. We're deeply appreciative Dollar General's deep commitment to access to the gift of reading for all students.
This past August, the Indy Women in Tech (IWIT driven by group1001) hosted the IWIT Championship at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Brickyard Crossing Golf Course, a major LPGA event. For the second year, they collaborated with the Octagon program called The Eureka! Exchange (TEE), which is an opportunity to engage school students in important aspects of STEM learning in a non-intimidating way. This year, in a collaboration coordinated by IBCF, ISBVI 8th graders were invited to spend the morning in various STEM activities, especially selected for our students because of their emphasis on tactile and auditory experiences. Along with their ISBVI math and science teachers, our students were mentored and encouraged by volunteers from the tech-focused organizations Codelicious, Nine13sports, Rolls-Royce, and IUPUI's Indiana University School of Infomatics and Computing. Students rode bikes attached to output simulators, constructed small electrical circuits, built simple machines, and tested flight paths for different aerodynamically shaped planes.
And at the end of the morning, each student had a chance to practice learning how to swing a golf club from one of the LPGA players. After a delicious lunch provide by IWIT, students came away excited and empowered. Thank you to all these organizations who gave so much to our students!
To be sure, we are fortunate to have Judy Reynolds as director of ISBVI's Student Training Employment Program (STEP). But the intensive 4-week summer program wouldn't happen without the additional support of the many businesses in our area who care deeply about helping to prepare our students with 21st century workplace skills. Everything from the local organizations who hire our students as interns, to the generous financial support from individuals and foundations to cover costs of support staff and transportation, to those who make additional valuable learning opportunities available to our students. This year's special additional opportunities included an incredible visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), where the generosity of IMS staff made vintage Indy cars available for our students to experience tactilely, as well as a private presentation by local Indy driver Ed Carpenter. And then in July, IBCF partnered with Regions to provide STEP students with a day of learning more on how to research, prepare for, and apply to jobs they are interested in, as well as participate in individual mock interviews with Regions staff.
Our warm thanks especially to Regions employees Kim Borges, Kathy Lovell, Schiela Pena and Steve Beres (also this year's Gala speaker) for coordinating this incredible day at the Regions downtown Indianapolis location. As Steve says so eloquently, "Just because you happen to be blind, don't let anyone make you think you should lower the bar for what you think you can do." Thank you, Regions, for helping to give our students these specific tools and the confidence to succeed! And thank you to ALL of the businesses who support our students in so many positive ways!
The Indiana Blind Children’s Foundation has been awarded the ability to distribute $10,155 in tax credits to eligible Indiana resident taxpayers - which enables IBCF to earn $20,310 in contributions towards its mission and educational programming at ISBVI. Donors who purchase the available tax credits can then deduct these credits from their overall tax liability while supporting necessary educational programming for children with visual impairments. For example, if you donate $500 towards this program, $250 will come off your total 2018 tax liability if you donate before December 31, 2018. This year's NAP donations will support the 2019 Braille Challenge, a one day family event designed to reinforce the importance of Braille literacy for blind children.
Click here to learn more about this program and if you are eligible to purchase these tax credits!
As we head into the holiday season, what stands out is the extraordinary "village" that surrounds our students at the Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ISBVI) as well as supports the efforts of the IBCF on their behalf. Our recent Gala, which generated over $195,000, was certainly a result of the hard work and deep caring of many people - not least of which was our wonderful new relationship with the Women's Department Club of Indianapolis. Because of their generous match, our Fund-a-Need portion of the program generated an additional $25,000. But - at the same time - donors in the audience (many who were first-time donors to IBCF) pledged $43,000 in support. And thus, together, we raised a total of $68,000 to support next summer's Expand Your Horizons Summer camp for children who are blind or have low vision. A beautiful example of many people working together to make this world a better place - thank you!
Thank you to all of our guests, sponsors, speakers, volunteers, and supporters in the community who made this event such a success!