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January 2020
Donka's Impact in 2019

During 2019, Donka achieved the following outcomes in our service area, which includes DuPage County and Kane County:

  • 31 individuals with physical and visual disabilities received 70-120 hours of individualized instruction.
  • 3 College of DuPage students volunteered weekly at Donka; they gained hands-on experience working with and teaching assistive technology computer skills to Donka's graduates.
  • 70-plus students from Northern Illinois University and Southern Illinois University majoring in rehabilitation counseling and vocational rehabilitation attended Donka's Train-the-Trainer Workshops; students received hands-on experience in using assistive technology and learned practical to use with their future patients and clients.
  • 150-plus professionals including teachers, counselors, and practitioners from community agencies that serve persons with disabilities learned about assistive technology and its benefits to help persons living with various disabilities: physical, visual, and developmental; the professionals, many of whom serve DuPage and Kane counties, learned about Donka and promoted our services to persons with disabilities.

*Donka was approved to operate by the Private Business and Vocational Schools Division of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) in April 2018. Students enrolled in the IBHE-approved curriculum receive a Certificate of Completion.

Accomplishments and Benchmarks
  • WIOA Approved: In January, Donka was approved by the Illinois Workforce Innovations Board (IWIB) to provide computer training to WIOA (Workforce Initiative Opportunities Act) approved partners and clients; our training programs and services will be listed on a statewide provider list accessible to organizations and professionals working with individuals with disabilities, as well as to those individuals seeking services; this approval increases Donka's opportunities for future enrollments and referrals for services. https://apps.il-work-net.com/cis/wioatraining/program/1001836_1010836
  • IATP Conference Presenter: Donka was selected to conduct a workshop at the Illinois Assistive Technology Project Statewide Conference in September; Donka will present an overview of apps that persons with disabilities can use to access/operate a computer independently; organizations, like Donka, submit workshop ideas and are awarded time slots based on their demonstrated innovation/broad utilization in using AT.
  • Workforce Development Pilot: Through a grant from the Illinois Treasurer's Charitable Fund, Donka began a Workforce Development Pilot Program in January; this program connects Donka graduates with a goal of employment (or furthering their education towards a goal of employment) to our vocational rehabilitation counselor who provides them intensive job skills training; part of their training includes working with a Model Office, which is equipped with tools with accessibility features (i.e. accessible phone, mechanized desk, accessible keyboard and more) to help students practice their business skills in real time; eight (8) graduates have completed coursework with Donka's vocational rehabilitation counselor; two (2) participants are now employed and two (2) have been accepted into college.
  • China Delegation Visit: From across the world, Donka hosted a delegation from China (doctors, nurses, hospital administrators) eager to learn Western approaches to caring for vulnerable populations. Their excitement meeting our instructors and seeing AT in practice was inspiring. The group are working towards their Masters in Public Health through Benedictine University's Public Health Program in Dalian, Liaoning, China.
  • New Website: In 2019, Donka launched a new website to help our future students, community partners, donors, and other interested individuals and organizations navigate our site with greater ease. Donka's various training services are described in greater detail. And, we are especially excited that our students can now enroll for classes online to get their training going more quickly!
  • Comcast Newsmakers Feature: Donka's Visual Services Instructor, Ann Byrne, was a guest on Comcast Newsmakers in April. Ann discussed Donka's programs and services and spoke about what it's like to work towards life goals as a person with a disability. Born blind, Ann is a former programmer for AT&T and has been a Donka instructor for 16 years. Ann is a great inspiration and mentor to her students with visual impairments as she can relate to the challenges and frustrations they encounter in working twice as hard to achieve their dreams.
  • Yearly Budget Goal and Objectives Met: Donka's dedicated staff works daily (and many evenings) to serve over 200 people each year. Our weekly volunteers provide support and friendship for our graduates who use the computer lab daily during open hours. Donka's Board of Directors works behind the scenes to watch over the organization, provide important input for our future, and attract new donors and supporters to our mission. Our grants manager and staff work daily to strive to raise $400,000 to meet Donka's annual budget and keep our services at low to no-cost to all we serve. Our expenses in 2019 came to $382,000 and we raised $357,000 through our various funding sources. We will continue to research new funding sources for our important work in 2020 to provide 90% of our services at no-cost.

Dear Friends,
As we launch into 2020, we want to thank the many donors who made 2019 a successful year for Donka. Through various funding sources, Donka will carry its mission and work into the new decade.

With renewed hope, Donka will continue to “empower the lives of persons with living with disabilities” through our AT training program. We will also continue building a community of support for Donka’s students by conducting AT workshops and outreach activities for professionals in education and disability services.

Our staff, volunteers, board, and donors keep Donka going into the future to give hope to persons with disabilities and to their families! As Kim Delany, a 2019 Donka graduate, points out, when our students are successful, they are inspired to achieve:

“My one-on-one training with Ann has been thorough and methodical, as well as a great life adventure of self-discovery. I discovered that I love the challenge of problems solving and researching solutions. I know who I am and what I am capable of achieving. I will take what I have learned and experienced at Donka with me wherever I go. In the Fall, I hope to enroll in a Master’s program in Rehabilitation Counseling. I want to continue the work of Donka, give back to the community that helped me, and help others become all that they can be.”

Once again, we are so grateful for all our Donka friends for helping us provide life-changing programs and services for persons with disabilities. Donka looks forward to another year of providing a vital service in our community. ---

Sincerely, Leanne Vos


Copyright © 2019 Donka Inc., All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
400 N. County Farm Rd.
Wheaton, IL 60187
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