NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), announced today that the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and Voya Cares® have awarded $55,000 in grants to four entrepreneurs with Down syndrome.
The grants are part of the Go Orange awareness campaign taking place during the month of October. The campaign, which celebrates both Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month, aims to elevate the national conversation about the need for greater employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.
As the focal point of the campaign, Voya Cares® and NDSS have awarded grants — one $25,000 and three $10,000 — to four individuals who rose above an impressive pack of more than 30 applicants. The recipients were selected based on their creativity, passion and business model. The selection committee comprises representatives from Voya Cares® and NDSS.
- Ronnie Brown of Pflugerville, Texas, was awarded a $25,000 grant. Ronnie is the owner and inspiration behind Fry Guy. Ronnie, the self-proclaimed Fry Guy, enjoys bringing people together and sharing moments of laughter and love. The vision for Fry Guy is to serve the community, model professionalism and share pure love and joy with every interaction. Fry Guy aims to provide jobs to those with disabilities while most importantly connecting the people with disabilities with their community through genuine interactions. The $25,000 grant will help the company increase their presence within their community as they do not currently have a storefront. Fry Guy also plans on using these funds to purchase additional equipment such as fryers, audio equipment and T-shirts.
- Joseph Steffy of Woodbine, Georgia, was awarded a $10,000 grant. Joseph is the sole proprietor of Poppin’ Joe’s Gourmet Kettle Korn. Established in 2005, Poppin’ Joe’s has provided Joe with a flexible, paying job that also allows him to help other people. The $10,000 grant will enable Joe to resume operations that have been halted due to COVID-19. The funds will also help him grow online sales and develop new marketing strategies.
- Nolan Stilwell of Georgetown, Texas, was awarded a $10,000 grant. Nolan is the creator of Texas Sweet Heat Jam Company. This hot-market innovation to make jam comprises Nolan’s own homegrown peppers and a twist of fine-tuned culinary expertise. This grant will allow Nolan’s team to further develop as individuals perfecting their craft, embed themselves deeper in their community and become stronger in the legacy that they hope to build for future generations.
- Julia Tyler of Wallingford, Pennsylvania, was awarded a $10,000 grant. Julia is the lead designer and co-founder of Dance Happy Designs. Dance Happy is a silkscreen print studio that produces handcrafted textile products featuring their original patterns. Julia and her co-founders, Emily and Liv, believe every person deserves the opportunity to forge a meaningful career and have a fulfilling life. The $10,000 grant will help them upgrade their workspace, allowing Dance Happy to reach more customers and sell to more stores. Their goal is to create more jobs for people with disabilities in their community.
“NDSS is grateful to work with Voya Cares to provide this unique opportunity to such an impressive group of entrepreneurs,” said NDSS President and CEO Kandi Pickard. “We are excited to see how this financial support helps them grow their businesses and achieve their dreams. At NDSS, we know how passionate and determined our community is, and we are proud to highlight businesses owned by individuals with Down syndrome who demonstrate that spirit.”
“Our nation recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 2020, yet we know that laws are often not enough to grant truly equal opportunities,” said Jessica Tuman, vice president, Voya Cares® at Voya Financial. “Voya continues to push for societal change, and we are honored to be working with NDSS to help establish a secure financial future where all Americans can thrive.”
To learn more about the grant recipients, the Go Orange campaign and Voya’s collaboration with NDSS, visit www.ndss.org.
About Voya Financial®
Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 13.8 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $7.5 billion in revenue in 2019. The company had $606 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2020. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time — Voya’s vision is to be America’s Retirement Company®. Certified as a “Great Place to Work” by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has been recognized as a 2020 World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine; one of the 2020 World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; as a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index; and as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” on the Disability Equality Index by Disability:IN. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.
About Voya Cares®
An extension of Voya's vision and mission to help all Americans have the quality of life they seek in retirement, the Voya Cares program is committed to being a leader in making a positive difference in the lives of individuals with special needs and disabilities — as well as their families, caregivers and other providers — by offering a depth of resources focused on education, planning and solutions. Go to voyacares.com to learn more.
The National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) is the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome. NDSS envisions a world in which all people with Down syndrome have the opportunity to enhance their quality of life, realize their life aspirations and become valued members of welcoming communities. Founded in 1979, NDSS supports and advocates for the Down syndrome community by focusing on three key areas of programming: Resources & Support, Policy & Advocacy and Community Engagement. Within these focus areas NDSS engages in various activities, events and programs such as the National Advocacy & Policy Center, which seeks to create systemic change through engaged advocacy; the National Buddy Walk® Program, which honors and celebrates individuals with Down syndrome in local communities across the world, and other initiatives that provide support, informational resources and community engagement opportunities for individuals with Down syndrome and those who support them. Visit www.ndss.org for more information about NDSS.