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Disability Inclusive Grantmaking is the mission of DFN: inclusion of disability in grantmaking programs and inclusion of people with disabilities in grantmaking organizations.

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DFN Members and Partners

DFN Members and Partners Recognized

Readers Digest Partners for Sight Foundation and NEC Foundation of America: Furthering Inclusion of icouldbe.org

Since 2000, icouldbe.org has brought online mentoring to more than 10,000 students at scores of America’s failing schools, in Native American Reservations and to orphaned students in East Africa. Recognizing that technology is an equalizer, icouldbe.org has been adapting its existing technology to accommodate teenagers with disabilities to provide them with many opportunities to assert and fully develop their potential – personally, academically and professionally. The first phase will include working with the blind and visually impaired community to customize our existing online platform to work with screen readers and other assistive technologies.

Thanks to the visionary leadership at Readers Digest Partners for Sight Foundation and the NEC Foundation of America, icouldbe.org will launch its Inclusion Program and become accessible to students who are blind or visually impaired in the 2008 – 2009 school year. “Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation is proud to be able to provide funding to help make the extraordinary mentoring services of icouldbe.org accessible to blind and visually impaired students. We applaud the efforts of Kate Schrauth and the icouldbe.org team in this area,” said Susan Olivo, vice president and general manager of Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation.

Read the news release.

DFN in ABILITY Magazine

Disability Funders Network was mentioned in the June 2008 ABILITY Magazine in conjunction with an article about MEAF Champion of Inclusion Award  winner Marvin B. Laster and MEAF grantees Boys & Girls Club of America and Kids Included Together.

Council on Foundations: Grantmakers Discuss Diversity, Disability

Speaking at a plenary on diversity at the annual Council on Foundations conference last week, Dr. I. King Jordan, a member of the board of the Theodore R. and Vivian M. Johnson Scholarship Foundation in West Palm Beach, Fla. and adviser to the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) in Arlington, Va., admonished his fellow grantmakers to, “be inclusive in our definition of diversity,” by ensuring that people with disabilities are included in the conversation. He illustrated the point by saying, “I feel like I’m standing out like a sore thumb at this conference. I’m the only deaf person in the whole conference.”

Diversity was among the top focus areas of this year’s conference, which brought together some 3,000 foundation, nonprofit, corporate and government leaders. The Council’s Committee on Inclusiveness designed the plenary session, along with a host of concurrent sessions to raise awareness of the need to ensure that diversity is being addressed by the philanthropic community, and that the definition of diversity includes people with disabilities.

In a concurrent session on Grantmaker Effectiveness, Kim Hutchinson, executive director with the Disability Funders Network (DFN) — an affinity group of grantmakers which promotes giving to the disability sector — challenged the room full of foundation leaders to look at their giving through a disability lens. Kim reported that DFN is partnering with the Cincinnati-based Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation to expand an initiative to encourage grantmakers around the country to conduct an INclusion INventory® each time a capital grant is being considered for funding. The inventory will help ensure that the proposed facility and the nonprofit’s program are inclusive and welcoming of people with disabilities. Read the complete press release.

MEAF Honors Boys & Girls Clubs Leader with Inclusion Champion Award

Marvin B. Laster, director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Diversity Program, was named the first Inclusion Champion by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF). Laster received the inaugural MEAF Inclusion Champion Award at the annual national conference of the inclusion training organization, Kids Included Together (KIT).

The award, which includes a trophy and a $1000 contribution to the recipient’s organization, was established by MEAF to honor individuals who have made measurable and sustainable impact in promoting the inclusion of youth with disabilities. Read the full press release and more about the award.

HSC Foundation Giving Tops $3 Million

The HSC Foundation, core of the HSC Health Care System, has expanded its commitment to underserved populations by funding more than $3.1 million in grants to a broad range of programs helping children and young people overcome challenging social and health barriers. HSC grant funding exceeded $1.6 million in 2007 alone.

“In the past three years, we’ve expanded our collaborations nationally and within the Washington metropolitan region,” says Foundation President and CEO Tom Chapman. *Our mission is to be an advocate and catalyst that empowers individuals with disabilities and their families.” Read the press release.

The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation

The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, a family foundation based in Cincinnati, is well grounded in the disability movement and puts that grounding into action through both a disability program area and a philosophy of inclusion that permeates all areas of funding. Numerous grants throughout the Mayerson Foundation’s areas of interest, including Children, Civic Engagement, the Arts, and Judaism, have the inclusion of people with disabilities as their goal. Support for capital improvements, training, outreach and consultation/technical assistance have resulted in several organizations making significant changes including a national citizen engagement organization beginning to actively reaching out and provide accommodations to people with disabilities at their public forums, a city park system reviewing all of their parks in terms of how welcoming they are to people with disabilities and numerous public venues changing their facilities and staff training procedures to create more welcoming spaces.

Within the Foundation’s Disability program area, the creation and continuing support of The Inclusion Network is a clear expression of the Mayerson Foundation’s commitment to the inclusion of ALL people in the life of a community. The Inclusion Network was established by the Mayerson Foundation in 1996 to focus exclusively on helping the Cincinnati community become more inclusive of people with disabilities in school, at work, in religious congregations, and in public venues.

The Mayerson Foundation’s ongoing support of inclusion goes beyond grant dollars alone. A recent Foundation initiative called, INsite, is an example of how the Foundation works with other grant makers to support the goals of inclusion. INsite is a coalition of 17 local private, corporate and public funders that have agreed to require or endorse the requirement of recipients of capital grants for projects over $1 million to perform an Inclusion Inventory of the construction project for which they receive funding. The Inventory, performed by qualified experts in physical accommodations and inclusive practices, assures that facilities go beyond the minimum requirements of the ADA with the goal of making Cincinnati the most welcoming city in America.

Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation Receives Top Award from Girl Scouts

The Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC) announced it will present the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) with its top award, the Officers Award, at the President’s Circle Dinner on March 7, 2008. Each year the award is given to a corporation, foundation, business or individual who has made a significant impact on the council and on the lives of girls and teens it serves.

MEAF made a three-year, $150,000 grant to GSCNC for the latter’s Including ALL Girls Initiative. The initiative fosters a culture of inclusion among Girl Scout staff, volunteers and girls without disabilities through training, education, resources, publications and ongoing support; makes Girl Scouting more accessible and inviting to girls with disabilities; and increases and sustains the participation rate of girls with disabilities in Girl Scout programs. Read the full press release.

Utah Conservation Corps Wins Project of the Year

Congratulations to the Utah Conservation Corps for being selected to receive The Corps Network’s 2007 Project of the Year Award! The Utah Conservation Corps served as the pilot site for The Corps Network’s Inclusive Crew Project, funded by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation to promote inclusion in volunteer service projects. Read the press release.

Member Projects

Fondazione St. Camille: Reintegrating the Mentally Ill in Africa

The St. Camille Foundation promotes and supports the St. Camille Association, which was founded by Gregoire Ahongbonon in 1987. Located in the West African cities of Bouaké, Ivory Coast, and Avrankou, Benin, the association provides assistance to social outcasts, with a particular focus on persons with mental health disabilities. The association provides with shelter and training to these individuals and actively works toward developing a societal culture of caring for and rehabilitating persons with mental illness. The foundation provides technical and financial support for the development of local business enterprises that will allow the integration of the mentally ill into working and social environments and promotes and supports the activities of other organizations pursuing similar goals. St. Camille now has 10 centers.

“Picking up the Pieces: Mental Illness and Religion are a Potent Mix in Ivory Coast,” from the BBC Focus on Africa, details the severity of mental health problems, more acute in Ivory Coast since the war broke out five years ago. Read the article and more about the Fondazione St. Camille and their participation in the World Health Organization conference “Strengthening the Mental Health Systems in Low and Middle Income Countries.”