Learning Ally
20 Roszel Road
Princeton NJ 08540
Contact Information
Address 20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540-
Telephone (800) 221-4792 x
Fax 609-520-7990
E-mail custserv@learningally.org
Web and Social Media
Mission
We understand that all people learn differently and may need options to achieve their full potential. Our mission is to promote personal achievement when access and reading are barriers to learning by advancing the use of accessible and effective educational solutions. Our vision is for all people to have equal opportunities to learn. We will succeed by partnering with our communities and being a champion for those we serve – ensuring provision of the most accessible and effective solutions that empower individuals to achieve their personal best. Now, as we tranistion our name to Learning Ally from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, we are moving beyond defining those we serve by their disabilities to aligning our organization as “their Ally” in the reading and learning process. 
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 1948
Former Names
Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, Inc.
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Andrew Friedman
Board Chair Mr. Andrew Hofer
Board Chair Company Affiliation Managing Director at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Financial Summary
 
Projected Revenue $29,661,740.00
Projected Expenses $29,661,740.00
Statements
Mission We understand that all people learn differently and may need options to achieve their full potential. Our mission is to promote personal achievement when access and reading are barriers to learning by advancing the use of accessible and effective educational solutions. Our vision is for all people to have equal opportunities to learn. We will succeed by partnering with our communities and being a champion for those we serve – ensuring provision of the most accessible and effective solutions that empower individuals to achieve their personal best. Now, as we tranistion our name to Learning Ally from Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, we are moving beyond defining those we serve by their disabilities to aligning our organization as “their Ally” in the reading and learning process. 
Background
Founded in 1948, our organization first supported visually impaired GI’s returning from World War II by recording the college textbooks they needed to complete their education. In three short years, our audio textbooks were in such high demand that additional recording studios were established in cities throughout the U.S. 
 
Decades later, we extended that mission to include access for individuals with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Now Learning Ally continues to expand the mission to promote personal achievement when access and reading are barriers to learning by advancing the use of accessible and effective educational solutions.
 

Throughout our rich history, the organization has removed barriers to learning for individuals with defined print-related disabilities, first pioneering the audio textbook and continuously setting industry-wide accessibility standards. Through ongoing innovation, our products remain integral curriculum components for students who learn differently. Today, we are still considered the assistive technology standard due to integrated features such as human voice and enhanced navigation for bookmarking and speed control, full descriptions of graphics, charts and appendices—all critical to books used as educational tools and solely available through Learning Ally.

 

Deeply entrenched in the education, technology and nonprofit communities, we are uniquely positioned to leverage our relationships with users, parents, and educators while harnessing the expansive infusion of mainstream audio and text-based electronic book technology. In doing so, we will create advanced educational tools that retain the integrity of our organization's legacy.
Impact
Our organization’s ultimate goal is to advance user-centric, holistic solutions that maximize achievement for individuals who learn differently. Guided by our vision, we are continuing to take an inclusive stance by expanding to serve ever-broadening populations of people with unique learning needs who benefit from our services. We are actively engaged with educators, publishers, Departments of Education, users, parents and advocacy groups. As a result, we have been able to aptly respond to the needs of those we serve, elevating the organization to a turn-key solution serving more than 265,500 people with print-related disabilities in over 9,500 institutions nationwide in the past year.

With more than 65,000 total digital audio textbooks and educational materials available for students, Learning Ally is the largest audio educational library in the nation. Our nearly 6,000 volunteers continue to record books in studios nationwide. Advanced book production technologies enable us to continue to evolve volunteer roles to improve methodologies and match the end technology needs of students as we look to the future.  

Starting from our recently launched tools that enable the use of our downloadable books through mainstream devices including iPhones and iPads, we will develop ever more enhanced tools, support services and resources for our users, their parents and their educators that will take us into the future.Through purposeful strategies that drive educational success, including the further development of advanced accommodation, as well as providing comprehensive, experiential support for users, parents and educators, we will improve service to existing members and foster growth to reach those in need.
Needs
Often misunderstood, individuals with learning differences span every race, gender and socioeconomic background. Learning differences are most often the result of a neurological difference in the way people acquire information and, just like a physical disability, are not easily overcome. Yet, quite often capable and intelligent, these individuals simply learn differently than those who are visual learners.
It is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people have a learning difference. The appalling lack of consistent and effective intervention continues to contribute to the disproportionate number of people with disabilities who comprise the national achievement gap. This creates a costly underutilization of our nation’s resources and individual capacity. The dropout rate for those with disabilities is approximately twice that of the general education population. The broader implications of this disengagement are quite staggering. School dropouts report unemployment rates at 40% higher than youth who have completed school. Arrest rates are as much as 62% for youth with learning disabilities. At an even higher level, significant long-term impacts on the health and quality of an individual’s life can be traced directly to his or her educational attainment and sense of self-worth.
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Education / Educational Services
Secondary Organization Category Human Services / Blind/Visually Impaired Centers, Services
Tertiary Organization Category Youth Development / Single Organization Support
Areas Served
Ansonia
Bethany
Branford
Cheshire
Derby
East Haven
Guilford
Hamden
Lower Naugatuck Valley
Madison
Milford
New Haven
North Branford
North Haven
Orange
Oxford
Seymour
Shelton
Shoreline
State wide
Wallingford
West Haven
Woodbridge
National

We are currently serving more than 3,000 students in Connecticut as part of the more than 265,500 people with print-related disabilities nationwide.

Programs
Description
At the core of our service is the production of digitally recorded versions of required books and other educational materials. Learning Ally’s cadre of more than 6,000 volunteers generously donate their time in our nationwide network of 20 studios, recording approximately 6,900 books per year. Our books are distinctly superior as learning tools due to features solely unique to Learning Ally. Superior navigation allows individuals to move throughout the book at the sentence level, placing bookmarks and engage fully with the book. Full descriptions of all graphics and charts enable learners to grasp the entirety of what is presented on a printed page – a key distinction and critical element for educational purposes. As we move forward, we will continue to produce audio books and supporting learning tools designed around our unique knowledge of the needs of each distinct population we serve.
Population Served People/Families with of People with Disabilities / People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities / K-12 (5-19 years)
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
As we continue to create products that are responsive to the evolving needs of students, we will offer a more robust, responsive suite of services that includes an enhanced selection of audio books and materials. Advances in technology will allow us to continue to enhance our audio book outputs and more strategically select the titles to record based on student demand.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
The ultimate change that will result from this program is improved access to accessible, educational information for all who learn differently.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
We track measurements to monitor the success of this program element including the number of books produced, number of volunteers engaged, and rate of book usage.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
When provided with the tools that enable equal educational opportunity, students are able to overcome the obstacles presented by a disability, often with inspiring results. Jessica, a Learning Ally member who was blinded by MS in middle school, told us: "accessing my textbooks in an alternative format enabled me to perform on an equal basis with other students." Jessica went on to graduate from college magna cum laude with a double major in accounting and finance. Jessica is just one of many Learning Ally members who continue to exemplify the power of our audio solutions.
 
Each year, we add to our collection of audio titles through the recording and production activities of our organization. As a result, there are more than 65,000 books available digitally for use on computers, playback devices, and other personal mainstream media devices. There are nearly 800,000 Learning Ally titles in circulation, a consistent increase.   
Description

The proliferation of innovative technology that can be leveraged for learning purposes creates tremendous opportunity and revises the landscape of Learning Ally. With each passing day, our users are riding the crest of new technology to address their diverse, yet highly customized needs. Therefore, once recorded, books must be compatible with the tools our users, parents and educators utilize. Learning Ally's all-digital library is now 100% compatible with MAC OS X and PC computers and our books are available in a wide array of user-defined products, ranging from CDs to downloadable digital files. By investing in product diversity, we will further incorporate mainstream advances in mobile, cloud and virtual technologies to ensure the proven power of our audio textbooks remain available through a widespread array of products and delivery platforms that will become the mechanism for individual opportunity and success.

 

Population Served People/Families with of People with Disabilities / People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities / K-12 (5-19 years)
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
We will continue to develop product variations that will respond to the future needs of users, parents, and educators. We will leverage emerging technologies that will enable Learning Ally to create a tiered suite of products, such as synthetic voice, human read, or text-to-speech product lines, with a range of features to meet the unique needs of those we serve.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
The ultimate goals realized include improved access to accessible educational solutions for all who learn differently through improved solutions across all constituency groups.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
We will measure our success by the diversity of our product offerings and the continued research and development outputs required to maintain an effective, relevant suite of technology solutions.
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.
The creation of the Amazon Kindle e-book reader in 2009, followed by the Barnes & Noble Nook and the Apple iPad in 2010, has re-defined the mainstream concept of the book. This transformative shift created by rapidly emerging text-based technology also creates boundless opportunities for Learning Ally. This market transition, not only enhances our ability to deliver products through mainstream channels, such as our Audio App available in the iTunes Store, but also increases production capacities and modalities resulting in more diverse end-product permutations.
 
One Learning Ally member, Beth, shared her appreciation of the audio technologies we offer with us: Originally using Braille, advanced high school courses led Beth to need audio textbooks more and more. She told us she loves the online features, or as she says, "Click, click! And then I do a search, and the books ship right to my house." In fact, now a junior in college, Beth has borrowed so many titles she has lost count!
 
Description
Learning Ally has leveraged virtual models to provide comprehensive web-based support materials for both students and teachers. All of our features are tailored to address the emerging needs of those who actively utilize Learning Ally, including such items as: technical support; online book catalog; telephone support from trained personnel; online delivery options for immediate book downloads; virtual training sessions; and sample lesson plans and interactive tools.
 
As we look to the future, we will exponentially enhance these online resources by increasing the services offered and building a fully integrated, holistic services and community structure. Through this users, parents (households), and educators that will each be supported as well as engaged. The creation of these web-based, interactive communities will bolster Learning Ally’s core content offerings, and provide critical service tools where there is currently a market void.
Population Served People/Families with of People with Disabilities / People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities / K-12 (5-19 years)
Description

Awareness, promotional and outreach efforts are interwoven into the successful execution of our plans on various levels. They are fundamental components of our overall strategy to not only engage those who learn differently, but to be a holistic, user-defined resource that truly meets the individualized needs of students, parents and educators. Through lessons learned, we know that it is critical to reach students as young as possible within their academic trajectory. Therefore, we will conduct a targeted marketing initiative, aimed at parents to assist with identification and service as early as possible. Additionally, through web-based efforts, participation in conferences and summits, and continued focused marketing campaigns we will maximize results within our existing audience and broaden our reach to more people. We will advocate for students who learn differently by continuing to drive the needs of those we serve to the forefront in various arenas.

Population Served People/Families with of People with Disabilities / People/Families with of People with Physical Disabilities / K-12 (5-19 years)
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.
We will increase awareness about learning differences and drive better solutions among all constituency groups.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
We will track the number of people and schools served to monitor our success as we broaden our reach.
CEO/Executive Director
Mr. Andrew Friedman
Term Start May 2010
Email dryan@learningally.org
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 120
Number of Part Time Staff 20
Number of Volunteers 6000
Staff Retention Rate 76%
Senior Staff
Title Chief Marketing Officer
Title EVP, Community Partnerships and Development
Title Education Solutiond GM & CFO
Title COO & CIO
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Semi-Annually
Board Chair
Mr. Andrew Hofer
Company Affiliation Managing Director at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Term July 2010 to July 2013
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Mr. Marc Baranski Semler Brossy Consulting Group, LLC
Mr. Peter Erichsen Ropes & Gray LLP
Mr. Kettner J. F. Griswold Orbital Sciences Corporation
Mr. Brad Grob The Cambrix Group, Inc.
Mr. Simon Hallett Harding Loevner LP
Mr. Jeff Jarvis City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism
Ms. Deborah Jillson LexisNexis
Mr. Marshall Loeb MarketWatch from Dow Jones
Mr. Harold J. Logan BuyBook Technologies
Ms. Celeste V. Lopes EsquireAttorney
Ms. Janis Mitchell Precise Resource, Inc.
Ms. Kimberlee S. Phelan CPA, MBA, PartnerWithumSmith+Brown, PC
Ms. Carol R. Scheman Consulting Services for Not-For-Profit
Ms. Sally E. Shaywitz M.D.Yale University School of Medicine
Mr. Soonkyu Shin CFA, Vice PresidentBrown Brothers Harriman & Co.
Mr. Stephen M. Siegel Claremont McKenna College
Ms. Jane W. Smith CPAAthens Housing Authority
Mr. S. Bleecker Totten CB Richard Ellis, Inc.
Mr. Robert H. Writz Retired Senior Exectuive, Sun Company, Inc.
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 14
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 1 1
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 13
Female 7
 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start July 01 2010
Fiscal Year End June 30 2011
Projected Revenue $29,661,740.00
Projected Expenses $29,661,740.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
Documents
Form 990s
990 Form2010
990 Form2009
990 Form2008
IRS Letter of Exemption
IRS Tax Exempt Letter
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals ChartHelpFinancial data for prior years is entered by foundation staff based on the documents submitted by nonprofit organizations.Foundation staff members enter this information to assure consistency in the presentation of financial data across all organizations.
Fiscal Year201020092008
Total Revenue$51,978,540$44,509,822$42,263,119
Total Expenses$50,414,964$62,460,407$42,194,841
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201020092008
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$27,707,505$34,271,423--
Government Contributions$15,630,084$4,226,934$16,894,031
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified$15,630,084$4,226,934$16,894,031
Individual Contributions----$13,483,690
----$97,650
$3,370,698$4,889,341$4,596,391
Investment Income, Net of Losses$1,886,258($144,783)$6,189,632
Membership Dues------
Special Events$137,659$262,673$764,779
Revenue In-Kind------
Other$3,246,336$1,004,234$236,946
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201020092008
Program Expense$35,652,295$51,396,105$25,708,687
Administration Expense$8,598,864$5,704,113$10,528,846
Fundraising Expense$6,163,805$5,360,189$5,957,308
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.030.711.00
Program Expense/Total Expenses71%82%61%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue14%14%19%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201020092008
Total Assets$50,269,397$46,897,011$74,038,451
Current Assets$7,203,371$6,813,725$17,394,514
Long-Term Liabilities$1,989,001$2,059,810$5,287,299
Current Liabilities$4,278,712$4,173,693$4,504,840
Total Net Assets$44,001,684$40,663,508$64,246,312
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201020092008
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountUS Dept. of Education $13,250,000US Dept. of Energy $1,147,000 --
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountVarious Government Grants $2,380,084Florida Dept. of Ed. $838,843 --
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount -- -- --
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201020092008
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities1.681.633.86
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201020092008
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets4%4%7%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Comments
Foundation Staff Comments This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.
Address 20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Primary Phone 800 221-4792
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Andrew Friedman
Board Chair Mr. Andrew Hofer
Board Chair Company Affiliation Managing Director at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.

 

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