ITNAmerica Awarded $3.45 Million Grant for National Development
Resource type: News
ITNAmerica Awarded $3.45 Million Grant for National Development.
90 Bridge Street Westbrook, Maine 04092.
Westbrook- ITNAmerica, the national non-profit organization with a mission to support the replication of Greater Portland’s Independent Transportation Network® (ITN), will receive a $3.45 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies to support the national rollout.
ITN uses automobiles and a combination of paid and volunteer drivers to provide door-through-door transportation 24/7 for seniors and the visually impaired. Atlantic’s support of ITNAmerica is essential because seniors who limit or stop driving may lose their connections to the community and become socially isolated.
ITNAmerica promotes civic engagement not only for the seniors who receive rides, but also for the volunteers who provide the rides; approximately 70% of ITN’s volunteer rides are delivered by volunteers over 65.
The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights – and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam.
The Atlantic grant comes just as Senator Susan Collins has introduced a bill in Congress, the Older Americans Sustainable Mobility Act of 2006, to establish a demonstration project to develop a national network of economically sustainable transportation providers to provide transportation services to older individuals and those who are blind. Congressman Tom Allen will co-sponsor the bill in the House of Representatives.
The Atlantic grant is not for the benefit of the local ITNPortland model, which now must work harder than ever to continue its high profile efforts to demonstrate that quality door-through-door transportation for seniors and the visually impaired can be sustained through reasonable fares and voluntary local community support.
In the ITN model, public resources may be used to help start a sustainable model, but after the first five years of development, every ITN must be supported without taxpayer dollars. Public funds are only used to help seed community-based and community-supported programs.
In this fashion, ITN supplements public transportation and does not compete for scarce public resources. Rather, it develops programs that encourage people to think about and plan for their own mobility needs if the day arrives when they, too, must limit or stop driving.
The Greater Portland ITN has delivered more than 160,000 rides and operates with donated automobiles, volunteer drivers, and local support from families, merchants, and healthcare providers. ITN’s Road Scholarship programs ensure that seniors from all economic strata are served.
The grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies will be used over the next four years to build a strong senior management team to support the ITN replications now underway and planned. Currently, ITN replications are starting in Santa Monica, California; Charleston, South Carolina; Orlando, Florida; and Princeton, New Jersey.
The Atlantic grant will also fund the next version of ITNRides!™, the enterprise software technology that ITNAmerica has developed to support and connect ITN replications across the country. In the ITNAmerica network, information system technology is a central component of the efficiency necessary for economic sustainability. This next version of ITNRides! will also support volunteer and community-based transportation programs other than ITN replications.
Senator Collins’ bill (S2311) includes incentives for people to trade their no longer used automobiles to help pay for the cost of their own transportation. Modeled on the successful Maine program pioneered by ITN, the federal bill allows a once-in-a-lifetime partial tax credit for seniors who establish transportation accounts with the equity in their own vehicles.
The bill also provides a matching grant program for communities that wish to start sustainable transportation services for seniors and those who cannot drive because of visual impairment, and there is a mini-grant program for technology support for other transportation services that wish to connect with the national network.
Another feature of the federal bill is the Baby Boomer Volunteer Driver Corps. The bill is established as a five-year $25 million demonstration program to help launch a national network that will not require government support. In this fashion, it will be positioned to scale with the aging of the population and not compete with Social Security and Medicare as society seeks to meet the needs of the aging population.
A grassroots effort that began as a graduate school project at the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service, ITNAmerica has received thousands of requests for replication of its Maine model from all over the United States and abroad.Requests for help have come from all 50 states, Canada, Australia, Japan, Ireland, Bermuda and France.
For more information visit the website at www.ITNAmerica.org.The other affiliates may be reached through the national website.