Mutual of America
2020 Community Partnership Award Winners
Human Services and Employment Capacity Building
Woman in shop assembling a complex piece of helmet apparatus

For most Americans, the ability to be independent and provide for yourself financially is a basic human need; some would argue it is a basic civil right. Yet, more than 70 percent of individuals who have vision loss are unemployed, despite possessing the skills and intelligence most employers believe are essential for success.

Since 1947, Keystone Blind Association (KBA) has been offering specialized services and support to help blind and visually impaired individuals build a brighter future. In 2000, after recognizing that other nonprofits serving this community struggle to fund their operations, KBA created Keystone Independence Management (KIM) to provide them crucial management and back-office services. By utilizing KIM services, outside agencies are able to downsize their costs and redirect their resources to programs that support their mission. At the same time, this forward-thinking business model provides KIM a source of additional revenue to grow its reach.

In 2002, KIM collaborated with Keystone Vocational Services and its partners to secure employment opportunities exclusively for individuals with vision loss or other disabilities through its Human Services and Employment Capacity Building program. This unique partnership-driven program seeks out federal and state contracts and other work that can be performed by individuals with disabilities. Employees earn market wages and benefits, and work in an environment that is competitive and fully integrated. The program also provides access to services to help KIM employees build a more independent and opportunity-filled future.

“Our group of agencies has learned how to effectively collaborate with each other and with community partners, leveraging our respective strengths to serve the greater good. Today, we are one of the largest combined employers of visually impaired and blind individuals in Pennsylvania,” said Laurie Staph, President and CEO of Keystone Blind Association. “We are proud of how our entrepreneurial approach has enabled us to further social change in a financially sustainable way.”

Keystone Independence Management
Human Services and Employment Capacity Building
Keystone Blind Association
Keystone Vocational Services
Beaver County Association for the Blind
Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
Montgomery County Association for the Blind