Pepsi Presents Check To Governor Fletcher, Kentucky Office For The Blind
Governor Ernie Fletcher and the Kentucky Office for the Blind (OFB) received a $20,000 check today from Pepsi to help fund tuition and books for postsecondary education students who are blind or visually impaired. In the contract, Pepsi has made a commitment of $100,000 over the next five years to OFB. Vice President and General Manager Mike Brown from the Kentuckiana Division of PepsiAmericas was in Frankfort to make the presentation.
“An opportunity for a postsecondary education should be available to all Kentuckians, regardless of the limited financial resources and physical challenges some students face,” said Governor Fletcher. “Advancing education in this way contributes to my administration’s priorities of building strong Kentucky communities and helping Kentucky students reach their higher education goals.”
Pepsi’s contract makes them the exclusive beverage distributor for the Executive Branch of state government. Federal interstate rest area vending services are operated through the OFB, and commissions received at those locations are used for OFB programs.
Bellarmine University senior Abby Cocanougher of Boyle County spoke at the ceremony, calling her tuition assistance from OFB a gateway to learning.
“My freshman year of college, I was very nervous about how I would get books, note takers and adaptive technology,” said Cocanougher. “OFB changed all of that for me that year. Now after three years of college, I have been receiving on-going services from OFB and thanks to them have had a fully successful college career. Education can be pursued by anyone at any given moment because everyone has an equal opportunity to educate themselves. Thank you OFB and Pepsi for helping college students like myself pursue their goals for higher learning and career ambitions.”
Mike Brown, of PepsiAmericas, said as a former board member of The Kentucky School For The Blind Foundation, he is aware of the obstacles facing the visually impaired when they seek a college education. He says he hopes the contribution to the Office for the Blind will help deserving students pursue a college degree.
“We all know that visually impaired Kentuckians have higher barriers to scale in obtaining a college education and this money is an investment in Kentucky and Pepsi’s future that will retain dividends to all consumers in the Commonwealth,” Brown said.
Kentucky Education Cabinet Secretary Virginia G. Fox, Deputy Secretary Laura E. Owens and OFB Executive Director Stephen Johnson, also participated in check presentation.
“Money from this contract will allow the Office for the Blind to help more visually impaired Kentuckians get a postsecondary education and prepare them for the work force,” said Johnson. “This year, OFB financially assisted 249 students at 62 postsecondary schools. We appreciate the investment that Pepsi is making in our students’ futures.”
In federal fiscal year 2005, the OFB served 2,895 people with visual impairments. It is a statewide network with 11 regional offices with rehabilitation counselors and independent living specialists who help blind or visually impaired prepare for employment and job opportunities. OFB provides medical evaluation and assistance, personal counseling, independent living skills development, vocational evaluation, training and job placement, and technical equipment and visual devices. A rehabilitation counselor works with individuals to get them ready for a vocation or help them keep their current job. OFB is in the Department for Workforce Investment, in the Education Cabinet. The Education Cabinet coordinates learning programs from P-16, and manages and supports training and employment functions in the Department for Workforce Investment. For more information about OFB programs, visit http://blind.ky.gov , call toll-free 877-KYBLIND (592-5463.)