How to find funds and grants for a wheelchair conversion to suit the needs of your special-needs kid
Updated: Jan 22
Did you know that adapting a van to become wheelchair accessible can cost anywhere from $12-20k dollars, that’s on top of purchasing a van. If you have a large family go ahead and add an additional 40-70K for a van that can fit a wheelchair accommodation and ramp, since one wheelchair accessible section will cost you an entire row in seats! I had no idea until I was put in a position of urgency for my family, after a car accident took the van that traditionally sat 8 and propelled us to looking for a wheelchair accessible van.
Today, reading this blog you will know exactly where you can find funding or grants that will assist you in converting your van. One of the biggest issues, when it comes to special needs internet resources, is a complete lack of clarity. Digging through information for hours only to find out it is not accurate, misleading or outdated.
When I began this journey I first reached out to all “my people” on social media and asked for any feedback about where we could find not only a van but a place to convert it rendering it wheelchair accessible. In true supportive fashion people began to chime in, research and send messages. One of the top resources they sent was a HUGE BUST, to no fault of the researcher. This website literally said it existed to show us where we could find Grants and Funding for van conversion to become wheelchair accessible.
SOUNDED Great, so I dove in.
The first company listed looked fantastic! It was titled “Abilities Foundation” and then the website linked to HERE. I went to the website and filled out the application, which is NEVER a slow process. I waited and waited. When I heard nothing back after several weeks I decided to call them. This is where I was disappointed. They said in their voicemail, that they have no funds for vans or conversions, and if looking for them, the best information they could give us was to google grants or reach out to the government.
Now please know, it looks as if this group has gone through a recent merger potentially and may not be aware that old information is on their site, (perhaps once they did offer these services). In short this organization may do great things, but it was misleading to tell us that they could help with van accessibility and even more misleading to be listed as the first resource for “The Mobility Resource”. However I took the voicemails advice and called the local, and federal government agencies that support the special needs community to no avail. S0 in true RELENTLESS HOPE style, I am determined to lessen the burden for those looking for aid and show them where to go exactly!
1) So first, before you jump through all the hoops it takes to apply for a grant or funding I highly recommend calling or emailing the organization and telling them you are interested specifically in funding for a wheelchair accessible van or modification. You don't want to do all the work of applying if they do not have funds for your needs. This could save you some time!
2) If they do provide those services I would ask if your child’s disability is acceptable for application. Some organizations have very specific requirements.
3) Think outside the box. When looking for an organization that would help with funding you may think more broadly. For example, organizations like “Live Like Jake Foundation” specialize in drowning awareness, however they also will help children with anoxic injuries due to drowning get to therapies and receive equipment that will help their recovery or life. There is also an amazing organization, Chase’s Warrior Foundation, they specifically help with adaptive equipment. There are so many foundations like this, that I will have to make another post and include how awesome they are, and help streamline access to them!
4) Don’t underestimate your community. With organizations like “Go Fund Me” which takes a small percentage of donations yet gives you a larger audience; as well as organizations like “Help Hope Live” which takes NO percentage of donations yet has a smaller audience, you are able to raise funds within your own community. Often we as caregivers/parents feel as if we can’t ask people to help because it’s our own journey, but that mentality is what limits us as a community. We are designed to help and need help from others. As a good friend once told me, “look, people want to give, and those that don’t, won’t, so never be afraid to share and ask for help!”.
5) Keep checking in with the government for grants. City, State and Federal funding is always being distributed and re-designated. www.Grants.gov is a place you’ll want to have bookmarked as well as your local and state level funding.
Now this next website has many links, and referrals, that are no longer active or had misleading information – however I listed it for the sake of each individual state in the United states, because each state can potentially have a few links/organizations that are working. Click Here.
I did audit the state of Florida and the above recommendations are the only recommended steps (as well as below), if you need help establishing what is working in your state or would like to add an organization to this list on my blog please don’t hesitate to reach out! Our goal as always is to make the path simple so you can focus on what truly matters.
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Here are a few more organizations that may fit your needs as well:
Cheering you on,
Founder of Relentless Hope