April 26, 2019
Three Mass. Nonprofits Join Up to Create Microloan Program

July 17, 2018 — Three eastern Massachusetts nonprofits yesterday announced they have joined forces to create a program that will provide microloans to advance business goals and employment opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism.

The organizations behind the new Opportunity Lending program are:
  • Accion in Cambridge, a global leader in microfinance,

  • Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism in Framingham, which helps people with autism get access to care, lead more active lifestyles, and grow toward adult independence, and

  • Northeast Arc in Danvers, which provides lifelong support to children and adults living with disabilities.
Loans ranging from $1,000 to $250,000 will be available to individuals who wish to advance a business or employment goal. The loans will be managed by Accion.

“The inability to access loans and other financial assistance is often one of the biggest challenges individuals with intellectual disabilities face as they try to work and achieve new business opportunities,” said Jo Ann Simons, CEO of Northeast Arc. “Opportunity Lending will help fulfill the small business dreams and goals for so many individuals, helping these men and women lead more active and independent lives.”

Funding for the new program was provided through a fund at Northeast Arc established through a $1 million donation from Boston businessman Steven P. Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said, “For too long, it’s been difficult, if not impossible, for people with disabilities to access small loans. Opportunity Lending helps address this gap and makes a dramatic difference so that individuals can achieve their small business goals.”

The genesis of the new initiative flowed from the 2017 Arc Tank, a competition a competition that provides funding for innovative ideas aimed at improving the lives of people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism and their families.

In tandem with the Opportunity Lending program, the Flutie Foundation has established Flutie Spectrum Enterprises, an initiative creating micro-businesses and other innovations to employ adults with autism.

“We’re proud to let entrepreneurial individuals with autism know that there is a path to crucial funding that will enable them to achieve financial independence,” said Nick Savarese, executive director of the Flutie Foundation.

Paul Quintero, CEO of Accion, said, “Accion’s mission is to create a financially inclusive world by creating solutions for individuals who are left out or poorly served by the financial sector. We’re pleased to partner with Northeast Arc and the Flutie Foundation on this important program that will help individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism more fully participate in the workforce and economy.”

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