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A Future Communities Institute Initiative

OUR GRANT SUPPORTED the development of the world's first Blind and Visually Impaired (BVI) data platform. As an easily accessible, representative, complete, and up-to-date dataset on BVI, social entrepreneurs, advocacy groups, and policymakers will be able to:

  • continuously identify gaps in BVI youths' evolving needs (as it relates to employment and wellbeing)

  • match needs to capacity by improving/tailoring programs as well as by creating new programs to fill gaps.

GRANT IMPACT Through Polaris, awareness of gaps/inequities will increase so that service programs can be tested, measured and improved upon.


For example, in collaboration with Kansas State School for the Blind (KSSB), the Future Communities Institute developed new programs including:

  • Distance Learning Preparedness: As part of an effort to build a cycle of continuous feedback that addresses real needs identified by parents, one of the biggest needs expressed by parents was how to support their BVI child during the pandemic. Based on the data of granular needs expressed by parents, KSSB responded by hosting a series of webinars tailored to children's technology use during distance-learning.

  • Job Readiness: in collaboration with KSSB and InReturn Strategies, a hiring agency focused on people with disabilities, schools, and businesses are brought together to create better pathways for employment. This is achieved by collecting data from both KSSB's BVI students and businesses in the region to match job-seeking students to job readiness programs hosted by businesses with the goal of improving long-term employment outcomes.

HOW IT BREAKS THE LINK BETWEEN POVERTY & VISION LOSS Outcomes and effectiveness research hold considerable promise for better meeting the needs of persons with disabilities. Existing datasets shows a wide range of outcome measures currently in use within the broad visual impairment field. As government and philanthropists require data on the effectiveness of disability service programs to continue to fund them, there is a pressing need to ensure service providers and other stakeholders are able to draw on a more robust evidence base as they report the impact of their work.


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