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Ames non-profit offering new forgivable loans to Iowans with disabilities

Loan recipients partner with the Iowa Able Foundation to receive financial empowerment coaching to "pay" back their loan.

AMES, Iowa — Like many during the pandemic, Shelley Jaspering is now working from home. She’s playing it extra safe during quarantine.

“I’ve been home since March 12, and I have left the house twice,” said Jaspering, of Ames. “In June, my boss was like we’re going to figure out a way for you to do some things at home.”

But even when Jaspering makes it outside her home, the cost of an independent lifestyle comes with a hefty price tag. Adaptive vans for drivers who use wheelchairs are costly.

“A wheelchair van can be 60,000 and up,” said Jaspering. “So if you want something that’s going to last you for awhile, you need something reliable, so having a way to afford that helps out a lot.”

Credit: Shelley Jaspering
Shelley Jaspering became quadriplegic after an accident 15 years ago.

The way to afford it may now be available for Jaspering with the Iowa Able Foundation. The Ames-based non-profit organization now offers a unique “forgivable loan” program. The loan payments aren’t actually financial payments at all. They’re financial coaching sessions.

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“There are people who need equipment right away,” said Tayvia Herrington, program director of the financial empowerment program at Iowa Able Foundation. “However, many of them also need financial education opportunities, and they’ve never been given that opportunity.”

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The loan program is funded in part by a $350,000 grant the foundation recently received from the Administration for Community Living. They were one of four programs in the country to receive this grant.

“What’s cool about this program is that we’re able to meet that immediate need but then also walk alongside the journey to financial independence,” said Herrington.

The foundation wants to encourage and incentivize Iowans to achieve long-term goals.


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