Contact: Nicole Ducouer, M 304-685-2393


ASHEVILLE, N.C. — IFB Solutions, the country’s largest employer of people who are
blind or visually impaired, recently received a $20,000 grant from The Community
Foundation of Western North Carolina for job training in its Asheville facility. The grant,
which came from the foundation’s Human Services Grant Program, is being used to
support a paid training program for people with visual impairments, which includes
training in sewing, orientation, mobility, the use of assistive technology, and
independent living skills.

“Almost 90% of our employees who are blind would not have a job if not for IFB
Solutions, and training is the key to that employment. This grant helps our employees
increase their income and support themselves and their families,” said Randy Buckner,
vice president of operations support at IFB Solutions. “We are grateful to The
Community Foundation for their support.”

A nonprofit organization dedicated to providing employment, training and services for
people who are visually impaired or blind, IFB Solutions operates three manufacturing
facilities in Asheville, Winston-Salem, and Little Rock, Arkansas. The Asheville facility
employs more than 137 people, about half of whom are blind or visually impaired. The
Community Foundation grant will be used to provide paid training for new employees as
well as retraining for those already employed so they can pursue more advanced,
upward mobility opportunities. The paid job training is especially important for those who
may have recently lost their sight and are looking to reenter the workforce.

Ed Smith, an employee at IFB Solutions who is visually impaired, is one of many
workers to benefit from IFB’s job training program. “I worked on computers for 20 years
before losing my vision,” Smith said. “After losing my vision, I was told that applying for
disability was my only option. IFB Solutions showed me that it isn’t true. Thanks to IFB
Solutions’ job training program and assistive technology, I am back to a career that I
love. Plus, I get to help manufacture products for our federal government and the U.S.
Armed Forces — and I’m proud of that work.”

The Community Foundation is a nonprofit serving 18 counties in Western North
Carolina. The Foundation is a permanent regional resource that facilitated $22 million in
charitable giving last year. CFWNC inspires philanthropy and mobilizes resources to
enrich lives and communities in Western North Carolina. Learn more at

IFB Solutions is a nonprofit corporation founded in 1936 that provides employment,
training and services for people who are blind or visually impaired. As the largest
employer of people who are blind in the United States, IFB operates manufacturing
facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., Asheville, N.C., and Little Rock, Ark., in addition to
operating nearly 20 office supply stores across the country and producing mattresses.
IFB produces eyewear under its Twenty200 brand at its Winston-Salem lab and
operates a retail location in Winston-Salem. IFB Solutions funds employee training and
services as well as community programs through grants and private donations, making
possible summer camps, afterschool programs and activities for children who are blind,
and Community Low Vision services through its low-vision Centers across North
Carolina and in Little Rock, Ark.
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