Llura Gund Fund is dedicated to ensuring equitable career paths for blind and visually impaired workforce
Significant donation from philanthropist Scott Tennant will bring meaningful support to key initiatives
WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 18, 2022)—The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) today announced a milestone for the Llura Gund Workforce Inclusion Fund, created to support AFB programs that expand pathways to leadership, inclusive workplace technology, and well-paying career opportunities for people who are blind.
The Fund was established in July 2021 through a challenge gift from Gordon Gund in honor of his beloved wife, the late Llura “Lulie” Gund. Mr. Gund, himself visually impaired, supported the creation of the fund by personally donating $2 million. In the form of a challenge grant via The Gordon and Llura Gund Foundation, he made an additional $1 million pledge, subject to AFB raising another $2 million for the organization’s employment programs.
AFB is now at the halfway point to matching this figure, thanks to a recently received generous donation from philanthropist Scott Tennant. Tennant is CEO and Founder of Senergy Medical Group, a holistic wellness company. He sees philanthropy and giving back as a huge part of his life and work, and first learned of AFB and the organization’s priorities through a forthcoming Helen Keller documentary.
“I saw in Helen Keller an inspiration for myself and others, as a way to devoting oneself to a life’s work that paves a path forward,” Tennant said. “When I was growing up, my father was an ophthalmologist. When there was nothing more he could do to help patients from a medical standpoint, I became interested in the ‘What’s next?’ aspect of the conversation – what resources are out there? And that was how I found AFB.”
One of AFB’s primary initiatives is to improve the dismal employment rates for working-age individuals who are blind or have low vision. Only 34% of this population is employed, compared to 67% of those without disabilities. The Llura Gund Workforce Inclusion Fund expands opportunities for AFB to meet these challenges by accelerating its investment in several innovative employment-focused programs, including the Blind Leaders Development Program, designed to increase upward mobility and create meaningful leadership experiences for individuals who are blind or low vision and in the beginning stages of their careers, as well as the AFB Talent Lab, which aims to meet the accessibility needs of the tech industry – and millions of people living with disabilities who use the internet each day – through a unique combination of hands-on training, mentorship, and consulting services, created and developed by our own digital inclusion experts.
“The momentum created by the generosity of Mr. Gund, Scott Tennant, our Board of Trustees, and their fellow donors is accelerating our ability to create programs that will ensure greater equity in the workplace for people who are blind and will create meaningful impact in the career paths of countless blind employees,” said Kirk Adams, Ph.D., president and CEO of AFB. “We appreciate Mr. Gund for establishing this fund as well as the contributors like Mr. Tennant and many others who are seeing this challenge grant to fruition.”
In addition to Mr. Tennant’s contribution that resulted in this impressive benchmark, the remarkable progress toward Mr. Gund’s challenge grant was also made possible due to several generous contributors, notably Ted Francavilla, AFB Trustee; the Memorial for Laurel Seeley; Selena Vanderwerf and John Bourger; and Debbie Dennis, AFB Board Chair; to name just a few.
“Thanks to the strong convictions of our Board of Trustees and other supportive friends who strongly believe in AFB’s mission and goals, Mr. Tennant was duly motivated to get us across this major milestone, and we are immensely grateful,” Adams concluded.
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About the American Foundation for the Blind
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) mobilizes leaders, advances understanding, and champions impactful policies and practices using research and data. Publisher of the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness for over a century and counting, AFB is also proud to steward the accessible Helen Keller Archive, honoring the legacy of our most famous ambassador. AFB’s mission is to expand pathways to leadership, education, inclusive technology, and career opportunities to create a world of no limits for people who are blind, deafblind, or have low vision. To learn more, visit www.afb.org.