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Pathlight, VVM Seek Innovations to Benefit People with Disabilities

SPRINGFIELD — Applications are now open for the second year of the Pathlight Challenge, Pathlight’s partnership with Valley Venture Mentors (VVM). The two organizations have put out a national call to entrepreneurs to develop solutions aimed at increasing independence for people with intellectual disabilities and those with autism.

Pathlight, headquartered in Springfield, has served people with developmental and intellectual disabilities throughout Western Mass. since 1952, while VVM offers support to business startups. The Pathlight Challenge is supported by a grant from the Westfield Bank Future Fund.

Startups from anywhere in the world are invited to apply for two spots in VVM’s prestigious, intensive, four-month Accelerator program, which kicks off in January.

Pathlight Executive Director Ruth Banta said that the partnership with Valley Venture Mentors highlights the organization’s long-standing history of innovation. Pathlight has been a pioneer in partnering with people with developmental disabilities and autism to live full and engaged lives. She said it seems a natural next step to consider how technology or other innovative solutions can help a new generation of people with disabilities live as independently as possible.

The Accelerator program is held over one long weekend a month, offering startups connections to subject-matter experts, investors, and engaged and collaborative peers. Those competing in the program can win up to $50,000 in grants to develop their business or product. Applications for the Accelerator are open through Oct. 18. The Pathlight fellows will graduate from the Accelerator program in May, when they will also unveil their new products or services.

For more information or to apply for the Pathlight Challenge, visit pathlightgroup.org/our-community/pathlight-challenge.

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