Real Economic Impact Tour Expands to 100 Cities
Brings New Hope to Low-Income Wage Earners with Disabilities
October 21, 2009 – Washington, DC - Plans were unveiled today for an unprecedented expansion of the Real Economic Impact Tour to 100 cities nationwide. The Tour offers free tax preparation assistance to low-income taxpayers with disabilities with added access to financial education, saving and asset-building strategies. During the past four years, the REI Tour has assisted over 330,000 individuals with disabilities with accessing over 300 million dollars in tax refunds and beginning to plan for a better economic future. “We believe that in these challenging times, the REI tour conveys a message of hope beyond disability and beyond charity that economic empowerment is fundamental for a democracy to survive,” stated REI Tour Director Johnette Hartnett.
Introduced to an overflow crowd, government partner Internal Revenue Service and corporate sponsors for the REI Tour, Bank of America, AT&T, Darden Restaurants Foundation, Visa Inc., Acorda Therapeutics, 54Freedom and Sealund & Associates Corporation made the business case for supporting outreach and education activities to this growing market segment. “One in five families has a member with a disability. People with disabilities are the fastest growing minority in America,” said Michael Morris, Executive Director of the National Disability Institute (NDI), creators of the REI Tour.
REI Tour City Awards were given to Rochester, New York; Las Vegas, Nevada; Denver, Colorado; and Atlanta, Georgia. REI Tour Deaf Tax Awards were given to the Harlem, New York Independent Living Center and Lexington Vocational Services Center in New York City. The Federal Employee Award was given to Lee Bowman of the FDIC and an Outstanding Leadership Award was given to Brian Moynihan, President, Consumer Banking Division of Bank America. REI Tour Outstanding Achievement Award went to Maria V. Reina, Executive Director, Global Partnership for Disability and Development (GPDD) Secretariat, Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University
Exciting new initiatives unveiled included a disability online version of the Visa Inc. critically acclaimed Financial Soccer game to test individuals’ knowledge of core financial concepts of managing credit, saving and staying on a budget and the Sealund & Associates Corporation’s donation of its Alaris Financial Literacy e-learning products to the disability community in the 100 REI Tour cities.
54Freedom announced a nationwide entrepreneur search to identify and honor outstanding business owners with disabilities and NDI introduced its first Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) Fellow, Joshua Beal, who will create innovative new economic empowerment strategies to be tested and piloted with government and private sector support.
The highlight of the Tour Kick-Off was the appearance by AT&T-sponsored USA Team Paralympian Brad Emmerson; Erika Bogen, Ms. Wheelchair America and Robert David Hall who stars as Dr. Robbins on the CBS hit show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. Hall urged the capacity crowd to stay focused and dream about the power of real economic impact to change communities and build their roadmap to financial freedom.