GUIDING EYES FOR THE BLIND INC

Yorktown Heights, NY   |  https://www.guidingeyes.org

Mission

Guiding Eyes for the Blind provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. We are passionate about connecting exceptional dogs with individuals for greater independence.

Ruling year info

1956

President & CEO

Mr. Thomas A. Panek

Main address

611 Granite Springs Road

Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

13-1854606

NTEE code info

Blind/Visually Impaired Centers, Services (P86)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Guiding Eyes for the Blind is dedicated to providing individuals who are blind or visually impaired with exceptional guide dogs for greater independence. According to a 2016 news release from the National Institutes of Health, the number of people in the US afflicted with vision loss is growing rapidly: “With the youngest of the baby boomers hitting 65 by 2029, the number of people with visual impairment or blindness in the United States is expected to double to more than 8 million by 2050.” Guiding Eyes processed nearly 400 applications in recent years, versus a historic average of 300 – a 30% increase. Not all qualify for a guide dog, but we will need to breed, raise, and train more guide dogs for those who do. We typically graduate 155-170 teams annually, and we are committed to finding innovative ways to meet the growing demand for a Guiding Eyes.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Puppy Raising Program

Trained volunteer puppy raisers bring puppies into their homes and provide the foundational skills that prepare them for guide dog work. Through hours of patient training exercises and numerous social outings over a 12 to 16 month period, raisers teach puppies to enjoy being with people and cultivate the confidence they need to take on a job that will change someone’s life. Upon completion of this leg of their journey, pups have become well-socialized young adult dogs ready to being formal harness training with Guiding Eyes staff.

A puppy raiser's hard work culminates when a person who is blind or visually impaired receives their priceless gift - a guide dog providing independence, companionship, and mobility.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

A student training program held at our main campus in Yorktown Heights, NY whereby people who are blind and visually impaired are strategically matched and trained with a Guiding Eyes dog over a two-week period. Students who participate in this on-campus training enjoy their own private room and bath, a shared kitchen, cafe, lounge, and workout room. Training begins on campus and progresses to nearby towns and cities. Eventually, students train in custom locations which can include New York City to individually prepare them for their home environment and daily routines.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

For people with health challenges or disabilities in addition to blindness, such as hearing loss, chronic illness, combat injuries, TBIs, balance and gait issues, etc. Students can be served through the Residential or Home Training Programs. Specialized Training instructors design customized training programs to accommodate each student’s individual needs. These instructors are also trained in tactile American Sign Language to communicate with those who are DeafBlind.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

For students who have extenuating circumstances which prevent them from coming to our campus, we offer one-on-one home instruction. A Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) travels to the student’s home with their guide dog. Training is conducted in the home environment for 10-15 days depending on the student’s experience working with a guide dog. While the instructor stays at a local hotel during the training period, the dog resides immediately at the student’s home.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

A first-of-its-kind option for individuals with vision loss who want to run independently with their guide dog, without relying on a sighted human guide. Having a Running Guide enhances independence, autonomy and overall physical fitness — whether the team is going for a casual run in the park or training for a marathon. For students who love to run, this training can be added on to any of our other guide dog training programs.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Our Genetics & Program is built upon best-in-class analysis of genetic data from every step of a dog’s life so that we can produce superior dogs with long-term working careers.

Population(s) Served

Guiding Eyes for the Blind offers unique, hands-on seminars to professionals involved in rehabilitation for the blind and visually impaired, particularly Orientation and Mobility Specialists. These seminars are designed to help rehabilitation professionals better advise individuals who are considering a guide dog, better prepare those who will be training with guide dogs, and work more effectively with those who have guide dogs.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments
People with vision impairments
People with vision impairments

Our veterinary services team provides the highest quality care for all of our extraordinary dogs, including those that have been placed with graduates.

Population(s) Served

Graduates, staff members, puppy raisers and other volunteers meet with schools and other community groups across the country to make the public more aware of the capabilities of people who are blind and visually impaired and the mission and work of Guiding Eyes for the Blind. They also meet with business and community leaders to help educate them about the rights of access for guide dog handlers and their dogs.

Population(s) Served

Every one of our puppies and dogs is valued and finds its place in the world, whether as a guide dog, another type of service dog, or as a loving family pet.

Our puppies and young adult or “career change” dogs are in high demand. Because we receive significantly more applications for adoption than we have dogs available, our selection and matching process is based on suitability rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Dogs are matched in consideration of the needs of both the dog and the potential adopting home. All of our dogs require a commitment from their adoptive families to spend the time, energy, and investment to make the match work.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of applicants applying for service dogs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments

Related Program

Residential Training Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted outreach efforts and the number of applicants in 2020 and 2021; the number of applications received continue to normalize throughout 2022.

Number of successful guide dog teams graduated each year.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments

Related Program

Residential Training Program

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

COVID-19 pandemic greatly impacted the number of graduates in 2020 and 2021 as programs were temporarily paused; the number of graduates continue to increase/normalize throughout 2022.

Number of people returning for successor service dogs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with vision impairments

Related Program

Residential Training Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

To continue a growth trajectory which will enable us to graduate 175 guide dog teams per year by 2025 while maintaining the highest level of service both for our human graduates and their canine partners. We also hope to meet the unique individual needs of all of the people we serve by customizing each of our programs accordingly.

1) Increase outreach to the visually impaired. 2) Increase kennel space or find alternative ways to house more dogs-in-training. 3) Increase success rate in our Breeding program. 4) Reduce waiting time for our Specialized Training program by increasing staff. 5) Expand our Running Guides Program to meet growing demand. 6) Provide more streamlined services and support to clientele from the early stages of the admissions process to post-graduation follow-up.

Through a committed fundraising goal and plan for expansion, we hope to raise $35 million per year by the year 2025.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind has long been a thought leader in the guide dog industry, developing innovative programs that reimagine what can be done with a guide dog; designing new equipment that improve the physical connection between dog and handler; and pioneering the use of genomic data to improve the global guide dog gene pool.

In adapting to the changing circumstances brought on by the pandemic, Guiding Eyes implemented new training techniques and continuously works to develop/adjust programs to improve our services. In the past 12 months, we reduced the number of dogs assigned to each instructor, which keeps our kennel population down while providing the same number of training hours per dog. This allows us to shorten class length while increasing our ability to customize training and provide additional one-on-one instruction for each of our class students. Guiding Eyes also implemented a new “Client Experience” team to help streamline student application and follow-up process.

Our Specialized Training department recently added two new Guide Dog Mobility Instructors to help serve the growing number of program applicants. We are also training more Regional Guide Dog Mobility Instructors in the techniques of Specialized Training so that we have more trained staff on hand and across the country to work with Specialized Training graduates when and where needed.

During the pandemic, Guiding Eyes launched Home Foster Care, a volunteer initiative in which local residents commit to housing a dog-in-training overnight and on weekends. This allowed us to limit the number of staff and dogs at our Training Center, reduce kennel stress on our dogs, provide them with enriching socialization, and it offers a partial solution to the problem of limited kennel capacity.

Guiding Eyes recently opened a new Community Outreach Center located in downtown Yorktown Heights. The space allows us to conduct outreach to the local community, raise awareness of our mission, and recruit new volunteers. Students and Guide Dog Mobility Instructors will also use the site while training in the area.

Guiding Eyes continues working with Google as it refines Project Guideline, a mobile navigation system that allows individuals with vision loss to run independently (without a human or dog guide). This research project has had groundbreaking results. Guiding Eyes president and CEO Thomas Panek successfully ran the NYRR 5k in Central Park in the fall of 2020 using this new technology.

In partnership with IBM and North Carolina State University, Guiding Eyes continues to test Smart Collar technology to measure the pull and pace of a dog. About 42% of our students request a medium to fast paced dog, yet only about 23% of our dogs walk at a fast pace. Analysis of that data will improve our ability to match a dog according to an individual’s needs.


How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback,

Financials

GUIDING EYES FOR THE BLIND INC
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

GUIDING EYES FOR THE BLIND INC

Board of directors
as of 07/27/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

John Donnelly


Board co-chair

Mr. Curt Landtroop

Matthew Zames

Jane Adams

Eduardo Andrade

Wendy David

David Fein

Sue Kelsey

Eli Manning

Thomas McC.Souther

Jane Parker

Andrea Redmond

Cory Shields

Cynthia Sullivan

Gaurang Trivedi

Holly Hess Groos

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/12/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability