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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Blind & Visually Impaired Centers, Disabilities, Education, Educational Services, Human Services, Libraries, Special Education

Mission: RFB&D’s mission is to create opportunities for individual success by providing, and promoting the effective use of, accessible educational materials. Our vision is for all people to have equal access to the printed word.

Geographic areas served: Nationwide-USA

Programs: Attachment 2

Community Stories

8 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with Learning Ally for over a decade now and have to share that the organization has accomplished more in the last few years than in the previous 40 years! The organization now serves over 200,000 students and some 10,000+ schools. The turning point for Learning Ally was investing in state-of-the-art technology that enables the organization to provide innovative solutions that dramatically improves the outcomes for students who are blind or visually impaired and those with dyslexia and other learning differences. I've seen first hand the impact that this technology has had on students of all ages - helping them to succeed in school as well as in life. For many students, Learning Ally is the difference between school success (vs. failure), high self confidence (vs. low self esteem) and helping them to experience the joy of learning.

Review from Guidestar

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've volunteered for Learning Ally in various capacities for many years. I've been privileged to hear countless stories from blind and dyslexic students from across the country who have succeeded in school because of the services provided by this great organization. Teachers and parents benefit too from tools and resources that help them teach, mentor, and guide students who learn through listening. Without this organization's great work, the one in five American children who face learning challenges would have less hope and opportunity for success.

Review from Guidestar

1

Donor

Rating: 5

I am a parent of a Learning Ally (new name for the organization) member and a donor to this organization. My son, who has been using Learning Ally for about three years, has become a better reader and more engaged in school. He now feels "smart" again, is a confident student in the classroom, an independent learner and has higher self esteem. I have seen the progress that the organization has made over the past several years with helping more students, parents and teachers get the services they need. They have improved their financial picture which makes me feel my donations are truly helping them achieve their mission.

Review from Guidestar

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Learning Ally keeps improving and expanding its services and technology to serve more children and adults with visual and learning disabilities. The organization has streamlined operations and turned itself around financially since massive federal funding cuts went into effect in 2011. The leadership has made many smart hires, bringing in people with strong skill sets and intensifying focus on building and supporting the parent and teacher communities that are crucial to helping students with disabilities succeed. What is most notable is the respect and collaborative trust Learning Ally has built up with influential organizations in the education and disabilities fields. It is good to see such a turnaround for an organization with an important mission and track record of helping students with disabilities succeed.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

With the onset of the new CEO Andrew Fried man @ 3 years ago, this organization has gone rapidly downhill. The service has declined yet they still receive grant money from many state depts. of ed. http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/learningally.html (one article reporting on this charity's new fraudulent identity)
While attempting to serve students with reading disabilities they have severed the outreach staff, cut the employees & become a poor call center. While the CEO & Sr. staff maintain high salaries they have eliminated middle management leaving low level employees many taking salary cuts, benefit cuts & demotions.
http://www.glassdoor.com/Reviews/Learning-Ally-formerly-Recording-for-the-Blind-and-Dyslexic-Reviews-E7703.htm
Their new business model is how can we sell more? While nonprofits need to make money to stay in business this was s service oriented organization. (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic). They do very little to assist students with reading disabilities.

Review from Guidestar

3

Volunteer

Rating: 2

Learning Ally (formerly Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic) may be having financial problems due, in part, to the economy, but there is some serious mismanagement going on here. A glance at their 990 (available through GUIDESTAR) shows numerous six-figure salaries, executive bonuses of as much as $50,000, executive severance payouts of over $300,000, a $130,000 consulting contract with the CEO's wife's company, and more. The shuttered studios are, I'm afraid, the beginning of the end.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 4

In early 2013 Learning Ally closed seven of its studios. They apparently are now under great financial difficulty. The individual office I volunteered at was run well but I guess expenses were too great. I enjoyed the work and I wonder what will happen to the blind and dyslexic students who rely on their services.

Review from CharityNavigator

3 Candice M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering at Learning Ally. I've been recording books and working as a director for them for a few years. The staff is excellent at the Austin, Texas, branch. Everything is very organized. When volunteers walk in, they're greeted and paired up to work on books together. This is such a fun volunteer job!

I know they could use money, though. The equipment they have is fine, and they make due, but the computers we use are well past their prime. This is a truly outstanding organization. Please support them!

Review from CharityNavigator