The LEAD Center, in collaboration with Louisville Metro Government Community Services and Revitalization Department and Bank on Louisville, hosted an Economic Advancement Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky, on May 13, 2014. Bringing together individuals and service providers in the disability, employment, financial services, workforce and asset development communities, the Assembly focused on identifying ways to collaborate on a plan of action to build a brighter economic future for people with disabilities in the Louisville area.
LEAD Center policy team lead and National Disability Institute Executive Director Michael Morris spoke about the economic and financial difficulties faced by many in the disability community and identified improvement strategies. Desmond Brown, Program Specialist for the Office of Financial Empowerment at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), discussed CFPB’s work and commitment to improving the financial health of people living with disabilities.
Special guest, Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), spoke to attendees about federal disability policy and his support of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647/S. 313), a piece of legislation that would allow families to set funds aside in a tax-advantaged savings account to be used to cover the costs of health care, employment support, housing, transportation, the purchase of technology and lifelong education.
Representing Louisville Metro Government was Sadiqa Reynolds, Chief Community Builder, and Tina Lentz, Executive Administrator for Louisville Metro Government Community Services and Revitalization/Program Administrator for Bank on Louisville. Reynolds opened the day’s program and challenged participants to work together to build a more inclusive Louisville. Lentz spoke about Louisville Metro Government’s work to build a community services network that meets the needs of residents living with disabilities and encourages them to live more financially independent lives.
Louisville Metro Government was identified by the LEAD Center as a key partner in the effort to improve employment and economic advancement opportunities for all people with disabilities. They were selected as a partner because of their commitment to improving the financial stability of Louisville residents as well as their inclusive approach to meeting the unique needs of low-income residents with and without disabilities.
In addition to federal and city representatives, attendees heard from three local partners working to improve the financial well-being of people with disabilities. Dr. David Beach, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Vocational Rehabilitation, highlighted his agency’s work to assist Kentuckians with disabilities attain independence and competitive, high-quality employment. John Nevitt, Senior Manager of Family Stability for Metro United Way, discussed United Way’s rich tradition of supporting people in the community and helping every individual, with and without disabilities, achieve their fullest potential through education and financial stability initiatives. Finally, Larry Hensley, Community Work Incentives Coordinator of the Center for Accessible Living, emphasized the Center’s ongoing efforts to empower all people to reach for and achieve their dreams, live independently and be positive contributors to their community and society as a whole.
At the conclusion of the Economic Advancement Assembly, event participants formed working groups to identify existing local and state partners, opportunities for cross-collaboration and avenues to improve the current support infrastructure and service delivery model as it relates to financial empowerment for the disability community.