iChallenged, Inc. is a non-profit 501 (c)-3 organization dedicated to improving the lives of those legally blind or visually impaired. Founded in 2010, iChallenged, Inc. actually has a history that began over a decade before its formation.
Back in 1997 and long before iChallenged became a thought, John Whitacre recently returned to Ford Motor Company after being on medical leave. He had been battling pancreatic cancer for several years and was now fully recovered. When he returned, he discovered Ford had initiated a policy for every employee to dedicate and volunteer two days every year to a charity. After his ordeal, John had a need to give back and wanted to make sure what he did had a meaningful and lasting impact.
Trying to figure out what he could do, he discussed and brainstormed with a good friend of his, Ted Lennox. Ted helped John come up with the idea for a series of nonprofit summer camps for the blind. The program was called Internet Drivers License for the Blind. From 1997 to 2002, John coordinated, planned and help instruct over 150 blind campers in the use of computers with assistive technologies. The camp evolved from a two day camp the first year to a week long program where every student had a dedicated Ford team member volunteering to assist them through the instruction.
From 2002 until 2010, John incorporated eWhit Group Inc. to provide assistive training services to those in need. Partnering with the Optometric Institute and Clinic of Detroit, eWhit Group Inc., grew in both knowledge and Instructors providing invaluable services to hundreds in need. During this time instructional material was standardized, instruction methods developed and new assistive tools and delivery methods put in place to provide the most optimal instruction for each student. Additional services were added including Orientation and Mobility training, Navigation skills, Skills assessments and Job-in-Jeapordy intervention services.
In 2010 and 2011, eWhit Group's Inc. partner, the Optometric Institute and Clinic of Detroit (OICD) struggled financially with reduced funding. It was decided to create a new entity to directly take up the full workload so a partnership would no longer be required. In 2010 iChallenged was formed for that purpose and assumed taking over all instructional services from OICD. In October of 2011, iChallenged, Inc was approved as a 501 (c)-3 non-profit.
From 2002 to present, John's vision has evolved from one man providing informal instruction at a summer camp, to an organization with more than a dozen instructors providing assistive services to more than eighty people and eye care to more than 3000 people every year.