National Disability Institute and New Community Federal Credit Union Launch Assistive Technology Loan Program in New Jersey

National Disability Institute (NDI), in partnership with New Community Federal Credit Union, announced today the launch of an Assistive Technology (AT) Loan Program in New Jersey. The NDI AT Loan Program will provide low-interest loans to people with disabilities, seniors and veterans through the New Community Federal Credit Union.

Assistive Technology (AT) loans include home and vehicle modification, ramps, computers, hearing aids and other equipment that increase individuals’ independence, productivity and quality of life. Loans will range from $500 to a maximum of $30,000, at eight percent interest, with terms up to 60 months.

“National Disability Institute is pleased to partner with New Community Federal Credit Union to bring this unique assistive technology loan program to benefit individuals with disabilities in New Jersey,” Michael Morris, NDI Executive Director, said. “Too often people with disabilities have been turned down for consumer loans because of an insufficient or poor credit history. This assistive technology loan program has the potential to make a significant and positive impact on the lives of people with disabilities.”

“We are providing access to fair and affordable credit to people who would not otherwise have been able to obtain it, and we are happy to partner with National Disability Institute to accomplish this goal,” Mulu Gebreyesus, New Community Federal Credit Union Director, said.

The NDI AT Loan Program will operate in New Jersey. Persons applying for a loan must be a resident of New Jersey and 18 years of age or older to be eligible. Family members, guardians or authorized representatives may apply on behalf of children or other family members, with the understanding that the device or service is for the use of the person who has a disability.

Information regarding the NDI Assistive Technology Loan Program is posted on the National Disability Institute website.

Funding for the AT Loan Program is provided through the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS). Technical assistance is provided by AT Act Technical Assistance & Training Center / Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs.

About National Disability Institute

Since its inception in 2005, National Disability Institute (NDI) remains the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to designing pathways to economic stability and mobility for persons with disabilities. Through public policy research and development and customized training and technical assistance, NDI has become a recognized leader nationwide demonstrating that individuals across the spectrum of disabilities can work, save for the future and advance their financial capability and economic stability. To learn more, visit Take the DISABLE POVERTY pledge at and engage with NDI on Facebook: RealEconImpact or follow NDI on Twitter: @RealEconImpact.



crystalFor 25-year-old Crystal Castro of Newark, navigating the world as a hearing-impaired individual has had many challenges. Finding work has been among the greatest.

“It has been difficult to find a good job because it seems like employers don’t want to hire me because I am deaf, even though I am a hard worker and have many good skills,” she said through a sign-language interpreter.

Castro learned about a pilot internship program in New Jersey specifically geared to people with disabilities. The program, called Building Economic Strength Together (BEST), led to her undergoing training as a credit union member service representative and then later accepting a placement at the New Community Federal Credit Union in Newark.

“It has been interesting so far,” Castro said. “It’s a great place and the people are friendly. I’m really enjoying my experience.”
Mulu Gebreyesus, manager of the New Community Federal Credit Union, said her credit union’s involvement with the BEST program is part of her organization’s mission to help the community with their financial needs and educational opportunities.

“We want to assist individuals in achieving their goals,” she said.

The BEST program is aimed at reaching some of the estimated 1.8 million individuals with a disability who are not being served by the banking community.
According to Pamela Owens, director of education and training for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the BEST Internship Program is a way to reach out to this large and predominately underserved population in a meaningful way. The interns are paid a stipend, which is covered by the Kessler Foundation, who is funding the pilot program for two years. Participants receive two weeks of classroom training and are then placed on-site at a credit union for a six-week period.
“For credit unions, this is a major opportunity to grow their membership while making a positive impact on the interns’ lives,” Owens said. “For many of these individuals, their job prospects are minimal and they are often not given the opportunity. With the BEST program, they gain work experience that will hopefully lead them to go on to fulltime employment.”

Besides the New Community Federal Credit Union, there are seven other credit unions in New Jersey that participated in the pilot program.
BEST was developed by the National Federal of Community Development Credit Unions, the National Disability Institute and Allies, Inc., the New Jersey-based non-profit founded to help those with special needs. The New Jersey Credit Union League and National Credit Union Federation’s Real Solutions program are also active supporters of the BEST program.

nccNew Community Corporation is one of the largest non-profit community development agencies in the country. It provides services in four basic areas: housing, health care, job training and education. Founded in 1968 after the Newark riots, New Community’s mission is to help community residents improve the quality of their lives to reflect individual God-given dignity and personal achievement.


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