PARTNERS IN EDUCATION
                             by John Mattioli

     Despite some recent controversy, Oxford Health Plans, a very new
company in the health care industry, has grown with incredible speed.  For
the past several years, company employees have developed a reputation for
community involvement and quality service by working closely with doctors,
patients, stockholders, and government officials.  Now, thanks to Oxford's
generosity, we in CCB will directly benefit from the company's civic-minded

     Throughout the year, Oxford donates money to non-profit organizations
in Connecticut.  Early last December I received a phone call from my
brother Mark, an Oxford employee.  He offered to submit CCB's name for
Oxford's consideration.  After he filled out the required paper work, I
faxed him a copy of our brochure, and we anxiously waited to hear from the
committee making the grants.

     In mid December president Marcia Dresser and my brother both received
letters indicating Oxford's intent to donate $500 to CCB for use in funding
our scholarship.  I was honored to represent the Connecticut Council of the
Blind and accept our check at a reception held on December 18, 1997.  A
total of $15,000 was donated to 31 organizations of all kinds, including
churches, youth groups, and minority organizations.

     We are fortunate to have numerous major corporations headquartered
here in Connecticut.  As with an individual's donations to charitable
organizations, corporate contributions are tax deductible.  Because these
corporations have incomes far greater than a typical individual's, they are
often willing to donate money to deserving organizations.  The trick, for
any non-profit organization, is to portray itself as more deserving than
the next guy.  While I am not a professional grant writer, a quick scan
through a book on the subject indicates that this process is similar to any
other sales job:  know your customer's concerns and address them.  In this
case Oxford's grant writers were targeting organizations involved in the
education of children.  A brief description of our scholarship was all it
took to convince them to donate money to CCB.

     If you work for a corporation here in Connecticut, or you know someone
who does, please consider how we might be able to work with this
corporation to continue the funding of our scholarship.  This does not
require a highpowered contact in the corporation.  My brother isn't in
management and has no connection with the committee that decided what
organizations would receive contributions.  All it took was a phone call,
filing of some simple forms and the check was ours.

     Treasurer Roland Soucy has deposited this check and we are all hopeful
that CCB and Oxford can establish a relationship that benefits everyone.  I
have sent a letter to Oxford thanking them for their kind donation.  The
text of the letter has been reprinted below.

                                   * * *
Mary Ellen Cody
Manager Community and Government Affairs

48 Monroe Turnpike
Trumbull, CT 06611

Dear Ms. Cody,

     On behalf of the Connecticut Council of the Blind, I would like to
thank you for your generous contribution of $500 to our scholarship fund.
 We are a small organization, and this contribution means a lot to us.

     Everyone knows how much an education costs these days, but many do not
appreciate the additional expense a blind or visually-impaired student
incurs. The cost of a Perkins Brailler (a necessary device for any student
requiring braille literacy) is about $800.  When compared with the cost of
pens and pencils (devices that accomplish a similar task for a sighted
student) it is clear that even basic tools require a significant amount of
financial commitment.

     The computer is a revolutionary device for information access for
blind students.  The computer, the Internet and CD-ROM titles such as
encyclopedias and dictionaries provide the blind student with far more
information than they've ever had access to previously.  This improved
information access comes at a cost.  Standard computer equipment is not
usable by a blind person. Additional hardware and software must be
purchased.  This adaptation can cost from $800 (for a simple speech-
oriented DOS-based system) to about $15,000 for a high-end braille-based
system providing access to Windows 95.

     During your award ceremony, you encouraged everyone to be sure and let
you know of other ways that Oxford personnel might be able to help our
respective organizations.  In the near future the Connecticut Council of
the Blind would like to assist its members in locating people who would be
willing to assist with common tasks that are difficult for blind people to
perform on their own.  Such tasks as reading, driving, etc. are often a
hassle for blind people and can be greatly simplified with a little
assistance from a sighted individual.  If you believe that Oxford personnel
may be willing to assist people in these endeavors, please let us know!

     We would like to thank you again for your kind contribution.  If CCB
can assist Oxford, or Oxford employees in any way please feel free to
contact us! We look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship in the


Marcia Dresser                                      John Mattioli
President                                          Second Vice President

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