In 2013, Kessler Foundation made significant achievements that changed the lives of people with disabilities, made possible with the support of our donors and funders. With the generosity of our donors, we raised nearly $1 million.
In September, Kessler Foundation celebrated the grand opening of its Neuroimaging Center becoming the only freestanding institution in the nation with a rehabilitation research-dedicated imaging center. What’s the significance? Neuroimaging documents changes in the brain and spinal cord that occur with treatment. This objective evidence of efficacy supports reimbursement by insurance companies, which is essential to making treatments widely accessible to the people who need them the most. Now with the Neuroimaging Center on-site, our scientists are exploring new avenues of research and rapidly making discoveries.
Our advanced research capabilities led to $5.4 million in grants awarded to our scientists to fund projects that will improve daily function of people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Many studies incorporate neuroimaging to assess changes in the spinal cord after using robotics to increase mobility or in the brain after using a memory intervention. Stroke researchers are developing rehabilitation techniques that bring treatments right to the bedside. Improving function is just the first step toward recovery. Kessler Foundation also investigates strategies that help people with disabilities participate in their communities and join, or remain in, the workforce.
In 2013, Kessler Foundation awarded $2.7 million in grants to organizations across the US that support employment and community opportunities for people withdisabilities. The three largest initiatives funded include launching a program to hire and retain employees with disabilities in PepsiCo, helping veterans and college students with disabilities transition into careers, and equipping faith communities with the tools needed to support employment for their members with disabilities. Since 2005, the Foundation has distributed more than $30 million to support initiatives for people with disabilities, including Hurricane Sandy relief.
In partnership with the University of New Hampshire, Kessler Foundation also began tracking and interpreting the monthly employment numbers for working-age Americans with disabilities. National Trends in Disability Employment, issued monthly, offers a unique perspective on disability employment. To boost the low employment rate of working-age Americans with disabilities, Kessler Foundation aims to demonstrate that hiring individuals with disabilities grows a company’s bottom line while individuals contribute to society. We work hard to share the message that hiring people with disabilities is good for businesses.
A testament to the hard work and dedication of our employees and Board of Trustees, Kessler Foundation was named one of the Best Nonprofits To Work For by The NonProfit Times for the second consecutive year, as well as one of the Best Places to Work in New Jersey by NJBIZ for the third year in a row. Because our staff and Board believes in our mission, we continue making strategic investments and expanding our work to improve the lives of more individuals with disabilities. In the coming years, we look forward to expanding our research to improve mobility and cognition, and explore the issues of caregivers and the impact of aging on individuals with disabilities. We’re also excited to watch businesses develop their employment initiatives and hire large numbers of people with disabilities.
Kessler Foundation appreciates every donor—from the major gifts to first-time donors to those who routinely write a $10 check. Together, they contribute to small advances that have big implications for individuals with disabilities. As much as we accomplished in 2013, we can do even more in 2014 and in years to come with your support. To our donors, funders, and all of you who are interested in changing the lives of people with disabilities, we offer a heartfelt ‘thank you.’
I encourage you to learn more about our work by visiting KesslerFoundation.org.
President & CEO