Iowa Advocacy Connection | 2019, Issue 4

Issue 24, 11/12/2019

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Articles in This Issue:

Partner Guest Article // Iowa Able Foundation



When Anna Magnusson was interviewing to serve as Iowa Able Foundation’s executive director in 2018, she read the story of Aidan and his mother. Aidan has Juvenile Huntington’s Disease and was unable to travel easily until an Iowa Able loan made it possible for Aidan’s mother to purchase a wheelchair-accessible van. Because of the van, Aidan and his mother can go to doctor appointments and visit his favorite places, no longer having to go by ambulance. The newsletter article closed with this quote: “We are so grateful for this opportunity that was made possible by Iowa Able.”


The Iowa Able Foundation is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides low-interest loans for any item, piece of equipment or product that is used to improve an individual’s functional capabilities, mobility and quality of life. Iowa Able is committed to providing resources that will enable full participation of persons with disabilities in their communities and workplaces.


Iowa Able specializes in serving low-income individuals with loans and services that are designed specifically for persons with disabilities and older Iowans.


Iowa Able offers loans in the following categories:


Assistive Technology

Loans can be used for any item, piece of equipment or product that is used to improve functional capabilities, mobility and quality of life.


Home Modifications

Loans can be used for any modification made to a home that allows for greater accessibility, independence and quality of life, such as entry modifications, ramps, doorways, bathrooms and stair lifts.



Loans can be used to purchase any equipment necessary to be a successful entrepreneur or employee from home. For example, the loans can be used to purchase computers, printers, software, home modifications, assistive technology and training to use equipment and devices.


Service Animals

Loans can be used to cover the expense of getting and training a service animal.



The credit builder loan is an unsecured loan to help establish, improve or repair credit.


Here are some ways individuals have used a loan from Iowa Able

  • Purchased modified vehicles and computers
  • Purchased a hearing aid
  • Purchased a therapy pool
  • Started a home-based business
  • Made home modifications for greater accessibility
  • Purchased wheelchairs and scooters


The Iowa Able Foundation team is committed to ensuring that all Iowans have access to the resources and support needed to thrive in their communities, homes and workplaces. “I truly believe that Iowa Able Foundation can help remove the fear, shame and stress that comes with the financial obstacles that prevent individuals from living their best lives,” Magnusson says with conviction. “Together, we can make Iowa the best place to work, live and play for everyone who chooses to call this home.”


In August 2019, the Iowa Able Foundation board of directors reviewed and approved the recommended pilot programs brought forth by the financial empowerment and vision/mission committees. Programs include a forgivable loan option for assistive technology, enhanced financial empowerment program and a sliding scale interest rate. The new pilot programs will be launched in early 2020. If you are interested in learning more about the pilot programs or if you would like to serve as a tester for the financial empowerment program, please contact Iowa Able Foundation at


To apply for a loan, please visit to download the application. If you don’t have access to the internet, an application can be mailed to you by calling the Iowa Able Foundation at 888-222-8943 or 515-292-2972, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


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State Sweep Visits


Iowans with Disabilities in Action is hitting the road and hoping to visit all 99 counties in Iowa over the next two years. Unfortunately, state-level organizations are perceived as inaccessible to those living with disabilities outside the Des Moines area. The organization is determined to change that perception by visiting communities throughout Iowa to increase awareness of how individuals with disabilities and partners can rely on the organization to achieve their goals.


Iowans with Disabilities in Action visited Burlington, Iowa, and Mid-Prairie School District in Wellman, Iowa, this past month to share resources, answer questions and make new connections. Both visits were paired with a screening of Intelligent Lives, a film by Dan Habib. Iowans with Disabilities in Action staff led discussions on needs in the community and the resources available. Mid-Prairie School District hosted several families from the school district whose children are living with developmental disabilities. Dinner was provided by the high school’s special needs program, managed by Amy Shalla, Mid-Prairie’s special education director.


Over the last 16 years, Iowans with Disabilities in Action has developed a wide variety of resources and information to help Iowans become more engaged and effective advocates for change. These resources are free and available to anyone who is interested. Iowans with Disabilities in Action continually develops and creates new resources based on the needs of Iowans. The organization’s goal is to come away from each visit with a better sense of what living in various communities is like with a disability — the good and the bad — and what resources individuals may need to live as independently as possible.


Questions? Please find out more by visiting, or email us at



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2019 Make Your Mark! Conference Recap

Thank you for joining us for the 2019 Make Your Mark! Conference in Coralville, Iowa. Sessions this year focused on developing leadership skills.


We were excited to offer FREE registration to individuals with disabilities, family members and direct care support professionals accompanying participants. We had the greatest number of attendees to date. We surpassed our cap of 150 and ended at 175!


Two of our featured speakers from this year’s conference were Dan Habib and Micah Fialka-Feldman. The duo presented on “leading intelligent lives” and sharing what it looks like to use social media and video to lead. We had several great presentations this year and look forward to what 2020 will bring.


Thank you to our 2019 exhibitors and, of course, our conference sponsors: Amerigroup Iowa, Inc., The Arc of Iowa, Iowa Association of Community Providers and the Center for Disabilities and Development. Without you this event would not be possible!


Please visit our Facebook page to see more conference highlights and photos.

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New DD Council Member Spotlight

Each year, the governor appoints individuals to serve on the Developmental Disabilities Council. Each person selected serves a three-year term on the Council. Alecia Balduf was appointed July 2019 and is excited to serve. She says, “I am 26 years old from Mason City, Iowa. I bought a nice condo and enjoy living by myself. I have worked at Hy-Vee for seven years. I have a perfect life, and my family is important to me.”


Alecia loves her job and wouldn’t change a single thing about herself or her life. She values the importance of community, family and helping others.


“I like to speak up for myself, but I want to hear other people’s opinions — that’s why I enjoy the Developmental Disabilities Council. I want to help people make a difference in the world,” says Balduf.

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Local Capitol Days & Grant Opportunities

Iowans with Disabilities in Action will provide eight Capitol Day grants up to $500 each for advocacy training and support to local advocacy groups who are interested in meeting with their legislators at the Iowa State Capitol and advocating on behalf of disability-related issues.


Eligibility and Applying for Capitol Day Grants

The following are the requirements for your group to be eligible to apply for an Iowans with Disabilities in Action Capitol Day grant:

  • Your group must consist of at least 10 people with a disability (no more than 20)
  • Your group must advocate for disability-related issues


Grant Recipient Requirements

As an Iowans with Disabilities in Action Capitol Day grant recipient, your group must:

  • Schedule a Capitol Day on either Tuesday or Wednesday in the months of January through April
  • Participate in an advocacy training at the beginning of the Capitol Day
  • Set appointments with your legislators (Iowans with Disabilities in Action can assist)
  • Provide a written recap of your Capitol Day within two weeks of your visit, including any follow-up communication with legislators


Optional Activities

While at the Capitol you may also want to participate in the following:

  • Watch a floor debate
  • Attend a committee meeting
  • Meet with other state agencies
  • Meet with Iowans with Disabilities in Action or Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council staff


To apply for an Iowans with Disabilities in Action Capitol Day grant, please fill out the grant application online at Call 866-432-2846 or email us at with any questions.


How ID Action can connect YOU to the Caucuses


ID Action has created several caucus initiatives with the goal of getting more people affected by disabilities to be active and involved in the Iowa caucuses. The success of these efforts depends on you!


Take a few minutes to review the descriptions below. If there is something you are interested in and you need more information, check the Iowans with Disabilities in Action website at, email us at or call us toll-free at 866-432-2846.


  1. Debate-Watching Party Grants: Get 10 of your friends together and have a debate-watching party. Grants of $50 are available to buy food, rent a room or to cover other expenses.


  1. Caucus Grant: Grants of $150 are available for educational workshops, grassroots get-out-the-vote activities, candidate forums or other creative activities that increase interest and involvement in the Iowa caucuses. Have an idea? Contact us now.


  1. Online Links: Go to the Iowans with Disabilities in Action website for links to the resources and information you need to help you become a more informed voter and effective advocate. Visit us at



Grants are available on a first-come, first-served basis for eligible groups. Iowans with Disabilities in Action Capitol Day grants cannot be used to attend other organizations’ lobby days.

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Take Your Legislator to Work Campaign

Take Action. Be Heard. Create Change.


October was National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and throughout the month, Iowans with Disabilities in Action conducted the Take Your Legislator to Work campaign.


Thank you to Senator Zaun for visiting with Jessica during her workday at Walgreens as part of our Take Your Legislator to Work campaign. Thank you to Walgreens manager David Watts for letting us stop by. Jessica is an asset to the store and was so excited to share her work experience with her senator.


This campaign is intended to increase awareness that every Iowan with or without a disability should have opportunities and choices to have meaningful employment in the community.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 866-432-2846 or

P.O. Box 737 | Des Moines, IA 50303 | In partnership with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council

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