Faith-Based Accessibility Grants Available

CHICAGO, IL (January 18, 2013) – The Retirement Research Foundation has announced its 2013 Accessible Faith Grant Program that provides funding to assist houses of worship in the Chicago area to make accessibility improvements to their facilities.

The program is available to houses of worship in six metropolitan Chicago counties: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, and McHenry. Since the program began 10 years ago, the Foundation has awarded 141 grants to religious congregations totaling almost $3.1 million.

The goal of the program is to improve physical access that will enable greater participation by older adults in a congregation’s programs, services, and activities. Grants are awarded for up to 50 percent of a project’s total cost, to a maximum amount of $30,000.

Examples of eligible projects include installing elevators, platform lifts, or inclined platform lifts; constructing permanent ramps; or renovating restrooms for accessibility in existing buildings. These projects generally require a building permit. Funds also cover purchase and installation of accessibility-related equipment such as assistive listening systems and automatic door openers, among others.

Grants are intended to support stand-alone accessibility improvements, not projects that are part of major new construction or overall large-scale renovation. Grants cannot be used for chairlifts, because they do not provide accessibility for all people who have difficulty climbing stairs; used equipment, because of the possible lack of required maintenance or warranty; purchase of accessible vehicles or individual mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or walkers; or projects that are already completed.

In addition to the requirement that the faith-based congregation be located in one of the six eligible counties, applicants must have non-profit status and own the facility where improvements will be made, must offer programs beyond worship services that benefit older adults (age 65 or older), and must be able to demonstrate financial need as well as the ability to raise sufficient additional funds to complete the project.

Applications may be submitted from March 1 until June 1, which is the deadline for submission of the application package.

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