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About us

Our Mission

We provide funding to people with disabilities in Washington and Oregon to purchase assistive technology and achieve greater independence.

Northwest Access Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and Certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) run by and for people with disabilities. Assistive technology, such as hearing aids, mobility devices, or home modifications, make a huge difference in an individual’s quality of life and independence. Learn more about Assistive Technology. [LINK]. 

Assistive Technology is often not covered by health insurance, nor through government or other social service programs, and there are not enough grant programs to cover our community’s need. This means that individuals and their families often need to find a way to self-fund Assistive Technology.  We were founded in order to provide an affordable option for people with disabilities and seniors, particularly those with financial barriers, to have a low-cost way of acquiring the technology they need.

Learn more about our history [LINK]

Learn More

Our Programs

  • We provide low-interest loans for people with disabilities to purchase assistive technology and to start and run small businesses.
  • We offer Financial Capability Services designed to meet the needs of low-income people with disabilities, including one-on-one financial coaching and group workshops.
  • We maintain up-to-date resources relevant to people with disabilities in Washington and Oregon.
  • Our People

    • We are run by a dedicated Board of Directors.
    • We have five full-time and two part-time staff members.
    • We reach hundreds of people with disabilities throughout Washington and Oregon every year—meet some of our clients.

2004

Lending
Begins

2008

IDA Program Established

2016

Expanded Into Oregon

2017

Financial Coaching
Program Begins

Certified CDFI SealFirst Certified CDFI In Country to be run by and for people with disabilities!

Northwest Access Fund was incorporated in 1999 and received its nonprofit 501(c)(3) status from the IRS in 2001. It was certified by the Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in 2002—the first in the country to be run by and for people with disabilities. The bulk of our initial funding came in 2004 from the U.S. Department of Education via its Alternative Financing (AFP) and Access to Telework Programs. With these grants, together with match contributed by individual and Foundation donors (including the Paul G. Allen Family and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations), we were able to hire our first full-time staff and launch our assistive technology and business equipment loan programs in earnest. We also received early support from the Washington Council of the Blind (our first grant of $25,000 in 2001!) and the Washington Department of Services for the Blind which, in 2003, provided funding to create the Closed Circuit TV Magnifier (CCTV) rental program.

Our first matched-savings Individual Development Account pilot project was established in 2008 through a collaboration with United Way of King County (using state SEED Act dollars) and expanded in 2010 thanks to a generous grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This grant program continues today, supported by our generous individual donors.

Old Logo: Washington Assistive Technology Foundation

For the first 8 years, we were known as the Washington Assistive Technology Foundation (WATF).

Old Logo: Washington Access Fund

By 2010, we had outgrown the name. After years of engaging with clients whose lives were profoundly impacted by the technologies financed, we understood that our mission is really to provide access—specifically to technology but also to economic opportunity. We became the Washington Access Fund to reflect this broader mission.

Broadening the reach of our services, we expanded into Oregon State in 2016. We are now Northwest Access Fund.

Current Northwest Access Fund Logo

Today, we provide a range of financial services designed to meet the unique needs of people with disabilities. This includes our longstanding {LINK} Assistive Technology Loan Program and {LINK} Individual Development Accounts, as well as one-on-one financial coaching, benefits planning, and robust information and referrals regarding appropriate assistive technology resources across both Washington and Oregon.