Rockville Center Non-Profit Helps People With Disabilities Herald Community Newspapers
Getting an influx of money from Google is not something that happens very often to businesses. So when a Rockville Center-based nonprofit received a $ 5 million loan, its CEO was elated.
For 13 years, the Disability Opportunity Fund has supported people with disabilities and will now be able to better pursue its mission thanks to the generous loan from Google. The organization recently received a $ 5 million Grow with Google Small Business Fund loan from Opportunity Finance Network, which will be used to meet the needs of people with disabilities, with a focus on minority-owned businesses and women, and those who suffer from the economic impact. of Covid-19.
“We are grateful for the support of OFN and Google as they launched this program at the height of Covid-19,” said Charles D. Hammerman, President and CEO of the Disability Opportunity Fund. “As Covid-19 has turned the lives of all Americans upside down, people with disabilities have been particularly affected as essential services have been cut and resources dedicated to their support have dwindled. This loan will go a long way to help us fund innovative businesses and non-profit organizations that save lives in the disability community. ”
Hammerman explained that the organization is a community development financial institution that acts like a bank, funding projects focused on helping people with disabilities. He said the association does not seek funds, but relies on loans from banks to carry out its mission at the national level. Since its inception in 2007, DOF has provided lending, investment, and technical expertise to businesses, nonprofits, and agencies working with people with disabilities to help them become self-reliant.
The Grow with Google Small Business Fund was launched in March 2020 and provides funding to community development finance institutions that support the short-term recovery and long-term funding needs of US small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic. At the same time, Google.org provided a $ 5 million grant to Opportunity Finance Network to enable CDFIs to improve access to capital for the most marginalized communities. Unrestricted grants can support operations, loan capital, loan loss reserve, capacity building or any other purpose.
“Google investing $ 5 million in a Long Island CDFI is a big deal for us,” said Hammerman, noting that his organization is one of the few community development financial institutions on Long Island.
“Community development financial institutions are essential to ensuring that, as we recover from the pandemic, financial resources are available for all small businesses across the country,” said Angela Pinsky, senior director of government affairs at Google for New York and New Jersey. “Google could not be more proud to partner with the Disability Opportunity Fund, which has a proven track record in building businesses that support the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Local success stories of the Disability Opportunity Fund include Karen’s Hope, a Seaford-based foundation that supports and empowers people with disabilities, providing them with resources and housing so they can move on to independent lives as adults. Hammerman said he helped with legal proceedings and granted requests to get the foundation up and running.
With the loan from Google, the DOF used $ 500,000 to fund a New York-based company called Hiki, a platform built by Jamil Karriem to combat the loneliness plaguing the autistic community – a problem that has worsened. over the past year.
“It cannot be overstated what this capital city means to our community,” said Karriem, Founder and CEO of Hiki. “Adults with autism deserve a remarkable product that is truly representative of their wants and needs.”
According to Karriem, over 30,000 new relationships were made on Hiki and 73% of the community said they felt happier and more fulfilled in life after just two weeks on the platform.
“This funding will allow us to build this unique product and continue to grow our community so that we can positively impact more lives,” said Karriem. “We built Hiki because we believe that friendship, love, and community are the essence of joy – and everyone deserves to be happy.”
For more information, visit www.thedof.org or contact Hammerman at [email protected] or call 516-399-3020.