National Down Syndrome Society
Phone: (301) 728-0447
The National Down Syndrome Society and Voya Cares® announce winners of two grants for entrepreneurs with Down syndrome
Washington D.C. (October 19, 2023) - Since 2020, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) and Voya Cares® have partnered to provide financial support to entrepreneurs with Down syndrome, allowing them to create or expand their businesses. The NDSS and Voya Cares® Entrepreneur Grant celebrates both Down Syndrome Awareness Month and National Disability Employment Awareness Month and elevates the national conversation about the need for greater employment opportunities for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities. Throughout the four-year partnership, NDSS and Voya Cares® have provided a total of $75,000 to six entrepreneurs.
“NDSS is committed to fostering meaningful professional lives for adults with Down syndrome across the country,” said NDSS President & CEO Kandi Pickard. “Through these grants, Voya Cares® is providing valuable support to entrepreneurs with Down syndrome while highlighting small, disability-owned businesses and the impact they are making on disability-inclusive employment.”
This October, NDSS and Voya Cares® are providing two $10,000 grants to entrepreneurs with Down syndrome who were chosen from a pool of fifteen applicants based on their business plans, goals, and the impact they provide to the Down syndrome and disability communities. The 2023 grant recipients are Jacob Kiefor of This is Jacob LLC and Mohamed Camara of Zero Premium Condiments.
Jacob Kiefor started his business, This is Jacob LLC, after he found securing a traditional job to be challenging. He decided he wanted to start his own company and “show people that we are employable and capable.” Jacob creates custom apparel and personalized door mats which he hand-paints. The grant will be used to purchase new equipment for cutting machines and stencils and for updating his computer and business software. This is Jacob LLC proudly made the decision to donate all profits made from sales back to non-profit organizations with similar missions of providing employment opportunities to individuals with Down syndrome.
Mohamed Camara, owner of Zero Premium Condiments, worked to manage his high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease at the young age of 14, including adopting a completely salt-free diet. This started Mohamed’s journey of realizing that salt-free food could also be tasty. Mohamed and his sister founded Zero Premium Condiments out of a “deep commitment to making a positive impact in millions of lives by making eating enjoyable again to those with health problems and promoting healthy, affordable eating for all.” For Mohamed, the financial freedom he attains through his business “allows him to be independent and not depend on others for his livelihood.”
“Many are surprised at the large and flourishing community of entrepreneurs who have a disability,” said Jessica Tuman, head of Voya Cares and ESG Center of Excellence at Voya. “One of the key roles of the Voya Cares and NDSS Entrepreneur Grant Program is to raise awareness of this important pathway to shrinking the wealth and employment gaps for business owners with disabilities.”
To learn more about the grant and Voya’s collaboration with NDSS, visit www.ndssorg/ndss-voya-entrepreneur-grant.
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.
Founded in 1979, the National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) empowers individuals with Down syndrome and their families by driving policy change, providing resources, engaging with local communities, and shifting public perceptions. NDSS engages grassroots advocates at the federal, state, and local levels and creates resources to support individuals with Down syndrome, their families, and caregivers across the lifespan on topics including education, employment, health and wellness, and aging. NDSS founded the National Buddy Walk® Program in 1995 and hosts community engagement events throughout the country including the New York City Buddy Walk® and Times Square Video, the NDSS Adult Summit, and the Down Syndrome Advocacy Conference. Visit www.ndss.org to learn more.