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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 Member News

Friday, 20 November 2009

 FISA FOUNDATION: Seizing Opportunities to Promote Disability Awareness: the G-20

When it was announced that the G-20 meeting would be located in Pittsburgh, many wheels were set in motion to capitalize on the opportunity to highlight local features and accomplishments. FISA Foundation immediately recognized the opportunity to draw attention to the region’s leadership in inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities. It its role as community convener, the Foundation called together local disability leaders to develop a strategic communications plan. By investing some time and modest funds, FISA Foundation and its network of community partners quickly ensured that disability resources were interwoven into the G-20 Press Room website (www.g20pittsburghsummit.org). A listing of local resources was developed to assist visitors with disabilities, and a temporary Disability Resources Information Line was created to allow visitors to quickly seek assistance with diverse needs including accessible transportation, emergency wheelchair repair and veterinary support for service animals. In addition, several “story pitches” related to disabilities/accessibility were commissioned and added to a dynamic story bank for the press. A full color brochure highlighting Pittsburgh amenities and corporations that are “disability shining stars” (from PNC park – the most accessible ball park in the nation, to the Quality of Life Technology Center which specializes in innovative assistive technology) was distributed at the Pittsburgh Airport, all local hotels, and welcome centers.

Kristy Trautmann
Program Officer
FISA Foundation
1001 Liberty Avenue, Suite 650
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Orquestra de São Paulo with Kazem Abdullah: solid Chicago debuts

The Chicago debut of a major South American orchestra and the launch of a major arts and culture initiative by Chicago’s leading disability service and advocacy group.-Thank you to Marca Bristo with Access Living for sharing this us

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Here is the Wednesday October 14 Chicago Sun-Times and suntimes.com review of the Monday night October 12, 2009, concert by Orquestra de São Paulo with guest conductor Kazem Abdullah and percussion soloist Dame Evelyn Glennie, presented at and by the Harris Theater in partnership with Access Living.

Worlds combine for solid musical debuts


The Chicago debut of a major South American orchestra. The first performances here by a much discussed young African-American conductor with Indiana roots. One of the world’s leading percussionists, who is also an exemplar and advocate of the role of disabled people in the arts and society, in a showcase work. And the launch of a major arts and culture initiative by Chicago’s leading disability service and advocacy group.

Monday night offered all of these and more in what proved to be a tightly-structured and well-paced concert by the Orquestra de São Paolo at the Harris Theater in Millennium Park. The stars were well-aligned, and management of all involved did its job, to bring together this leading Brazilian ensemble, James Levine conducting-protege Kazem Abdullah, 29 (above), deaf-and-proud percussionistDame Evelyn Glennie, and Access Living in an unusually successful combination of art and agendas.

The São Paulo orchestra was founded in 1954 in Brazil’s largest city and has had its ups and downs over the decades. Having undergone major reorganization, taken possession of São Paulo’s top-flight Russell Johnson-designed Music Hall, and enlisted state support and a former Brazilian president (!) to head its board of directors, the OSP recently snared its first internationally known music director, Yan Pascal Tortelier who just last week was a last-minute substitute with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Its current North American tour, however, is led by Abdullah, Cincinnati-trained with a lot of high-pressure experience at the Metropolitan Opera in New York including a well-regarded last-minute fill-in of his own in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice this season. At tour’s beginning he seemed still to be finding the right balance between “guest” and “conductor” but was a fine mediator of a varied program. Folk-drenched Brazilian works by pioneering composer Alberto Nepomuceno and a traditional encore framed the concert and a rare chance to hear the orchestrated 1942 Fourth Bachianas Brasileiras of Heitor Villa-Lobos completed the national representation in the program and an energetic take on Bartók’s suite from The Miraculous Mandarin closed the printed program. Abdullah returns here in January to lead the Chicago Sinfonietta in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

Glennie was to have performed a new commission on this tour but when its composer failed to meet deadlines, the whirling, barefoot percussionist substituted her signature 1992 Veni, Veni Emmanuel by her fellow Scot, James MacMillan. Her attention to every moment and variant in this multi-instrument, stage-covering half-hour tour de force certainly made clear that disabilities need not be any barrier to artistic expression or fulfillment, something Access Living and its many friends and clients in attendance have known for a long time, too.

 ********PRESS RELEASE********

SEPTEMBER 14, 2009



Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, Pleasantville, NY, has elected James Deremeik to the Board of Directors. Mr. Deremeik is the Education/Rehabilitation Program Manager at the Lions Vision Research and Rehabilitation Center of Johns Hopkins.

Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation, a grant maker and large print publisher, is dedicated to increasing independence, self-reliance, and dignity for blind and visually-impaired persons.




Generous grant will support efforts to improve the outcomes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism

SILVER SPRING, MD, June 30, 2009 – The Walmart Foundation has awarded $3 million to The Arc of the United States to establish the Walmart Foundation School-To-Community Transition Project to improve outcomes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism.

The project aims to assure that youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism achieve the outcomes they desire in the course of transitioning from school to adult life.

The grant will expand The Arc’s efforts to improve the quality of transition planning and transition services for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism by identifying successful programs that can be replicated nationwide. The funds will be dispersed thorough a competitive process to approximately 50 local chapters of The Arc that are operating promising school to community transition programs throughout the U.S.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Walmart Foundation, we will improve the lives of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism and maximize their full inclusion in every aspect of community and society,” said Peter V. Berns, Executive Director of The Arc of the United States. “We will reach across our extensive network of state and local chapters, individuals with disabilities, their families, disability advocacy groups and others to identify and spread best practices and program excellence to ensure a full breadth of possibility for young people with disabilities,” Berns said.

The impact of the Walmart Foundation School-to-Community Transition project will be better transition outcomes, specifically greater inclusion and involvement of youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism in independent living, employment, post-secondary education or vocational training, and community, social and civic affairs.

“The Walmart Foundation is committed to improving the lives of people with disabilities and ensuring that they have access to the full rights and benefits enjoyed by every American,” said Margaret McKenna, President of the Walmart Foundation. “The Walmart School-to-Community Transition Project blends innovation and opportunity by expanding the resources necessary to help young people with disabilities to achieve their goals.”

“The Arc is grateful for the Walmart Foundation’s dedication to advancing the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism,” said Lynne A. Cleveland, President of The Arc of the United States. “The Foundation’s investment will help The Arc continue its unique service to all people with intellectual disabilities, regardless of diagnosis and at every stage of their lives.”

About The Arc of the United States

The Arc of the United States (The Arc) is the largest community based nonprofit advocating on behalf of and serving people with intellectual and related developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families. Together with our current network of 756 state and local chapters and members, we improve systems of supports and services; connect families; inspire communities and influence public policy. For more information, please visit www.thearc.org

About Philanthropy at Walmart Stores, Inc.

Walmart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Walmart Foundation funds initiatives focused on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009, Walmart – and its domestic and international foundations – gave more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally. To learn more, visit
www.walmartfoundation.org .


Disability Rights Fund Makes Grants to 33 Organizations in 7 Countries

BOSTON, MA (Nov. 3) – The Disability Rights Fund (DRF, a project of Tides) – a groundbreaking collaborative to support the human rights of people with disabilities around the world – today announced funding decisions from its first request for proposals. A total of $800,000 will be gifted to 33 organizations in seven countries. The grants will support work to raise awareness about the rights of people with disabilities, build coalitions and networks, and develop advocacy and monitoring activities, in connection with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

DRF grantees share the goal of advancing the rights of people with disabilities at the country-level. Recipients include:

  • A Ugandan organization of lawyers with disabilities.
  • An emergent Peruvian group of people with psycho-social disabilities.
  • A grassroots network in Bangladesh of women-led disabled persons’ organizations.

The full grantee list will be posted on the DRF Web site, www.disabilityrightsfund.org/grantees.html, and is available upon request.

“As the disability rights movement gains new impetus through the UN Convention we are delighted to play our part by placing new funding in the hands of DPOs to enable them to advance rights at country level,” stated DRF Co-Chair, William Rowland. DRF Director, Diana Samarasan, added “It is an auspicious day to put money in the hands of organizations run by people with disabilities. The first Conference of States Parties to the Convention is being held at the UN; the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is being elected. The work of translating the Convention from paper to practice is before us.”

Grantees were selected after a rigorous review process which included review by DRF’s Steering Committee, a committee composed of donor representatives and people with disabilities from the Global South.

DRF’s donors include: an anonymous founding donor, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Open Society Institute, the UK’s Department for International Development, and the American Jewish World Service.

A grantee list can be requested from DRF by writing to dsamarasan@disabilityrightsfund.org.

FISA Foundation’s Executive Director Wins Award

Dee Delaney received the Gertrude Labowitz Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 UCP Community Heroes Awards Dinner in October.  Dee is executive director of FISA Foundation, which awards grants to nonprofits in southwestern Pennsylvania that work with women, girls and people with disabilities.  She was recognized for her ongoing advocacy to expand access to health care and dental care for people with disabilities, to increase the number of people with disabilities serving on nonprofit boards, to promote Web site accessibility, to raise awareness about disability issues and to promote a culture of inclusion.

Congratulations, Dee!

Partnership to Increase Accessibility for Travelers with Disabilities

FISA Foundation (PA) recently awarded a planning grant to the Greater Pittsburgh Convention and Visitors Bureau to make the VisitPittsburgh Web site welcoming and accessible to travelers with disabilities. Dee Delaney, FISA Foundation’s executive director, commented, “We want travelers to be able to easily find out which restaurants are accessible or where they can rent an accessible van. It is particularly exciting when we can partner with a mainstream organization on disability awareness and inclusion projects.  It’s one of FISA’s strategies for changing the culture of our region.” For more information, contact Dee Delaney at 412-456-5550 or dee@fisafoundation.org.

Congratulations to DFN Member Katherine McCary, Appointed by President Bush to National Council on Disability

WASHINGTON — Katherine O. McCary, of Midlothian, VA, was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as a member of the National Council on Disability (NCD) (www.ncd.gov). The U.S. Senate confirmed Ms. McCary’s nomination on Oct. 2, 2008.

Ms. McCary is a vice president of SunTrust Bank and reports to the chairman, president and CEO, SunTrust Mid-Atlantic and has corporate responsibility for the Accessing Community Talent (ACT) Program, a disability program that seeks to increase the employment of people with disabilities throughout SunTrust’s workforce and to increase awareness of marketing opportunities for customers with disabilities. She manages the Corporate Disability Resource Center which provides disability information internally to employees and managers. She acts as disability consultant to SunTrust’s 17 Diversity Councils.

In her 18 years with SunTrust, her contributions to SunTrust’s disability efforts have resulted in national recognition, including the SHRM HR Magazine 2000 Innovative Practice Award, the 2002 US Business Leadership Network (USBLN®) Exceptional Leadership Award and the U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Elaine Chao’s 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award.

Ms. McCary is responsible for SunTrust representation in the Business Leadership Network organization and serves as the chair of the USBLN®, a national organization representing 5,000 businesses that educates employers on the business imperative of disability. She is involved in many “disability business” organizations and local Workforce Investment Boards. She is co-chair for SunTrust’s National Disability Mentoring Day and is a nationally recognized speaker on disability.

NCD is an independent federal agency and is composed of 15 members appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the senate. It provides advice to the president, congress, and executive branch agencies to promote policies, programs, practices, and procedures that guarantee equal opportunity for all individuals with disabilities, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability and to empower individuals with disabilities to achieve economic self-sufficiency, independent living, and inclusion and integration into all aspects of society.

FISA Foundation Approves New Grants

The following grants were approved by FISA Foundation’s Board of Directors:

  • Allegheny Valley School, $55,000 toward renovation and expansion of the Pittsburgh Campus Medical Suite, including accessible electric examination tables;
  • The Arc of Westmoreland, Inc, $36,921 to improve transition planning for youth in Westmoreland County by educating parents and disability service providers;
  • Carnegie Institute, $4,800 to purchase ramps to enable people with disabilities to access art exhibits at the 2008 Three Rivers Arts Festival;
  • Center for Hearing & Deaf Services, $11,160 as a planning grant for an initiative to improve healthcare quality for patients who are deaf or hard of hearing by providing sign language interpretation;
  • The Children’s Institute, $5,000 to support the Lose the Training Wheels Camp, teaching children with disabilities to ride bicycles;
  • Crisis Center North, Inc., $36,075 to improve outreach to victims of domestic violence who have disabilities;
  • East Suburban Citizen Advocacy, $15,000 to develop a website and promote inclusion by connecting people with and without disabilities around mutual interests;
  • The Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, $45,000 to increase the pool of qualified Direct Support Professionals qualified to work with individuals with developmental disabilities in residential settings by developing and piloting a training program;
  • Every Child, Inc., $50,000 for strengthening organizational structure critical to the agency’s support of parents and children with disabilities and special health care needs;
  • Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, $10,000 to purchase equipment for the Assistive Technology Program;
  • Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, Inc., $1,500 for sign language interpretation services and registration scholarships for the 2008 Nonprofit Summit;
  • Health Hope Network, $3,000 in continued support for the Stroke Survivor Connections outing at the Woodlands Foundation;
  • Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers’ Association, $40,000 over two years for the We Count Campaign, a cross-disability campaign to promote civic participation among voters with disabilities;
  • Southwinds, $5,980 to build capacity through the purchase of fundraising management software at this agency serving individuals with intellectual disabilities;
  • St. Anthony School Programs, $35,000 in general support for the Post-Secondary School Program for students with disabilities at Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh;
  • Variety the Children’s Charity, $35,000 to support rural outreach for the Kids on the Go! Program, which provides adaptive equipment to children with disabilities;
  • The Verland Foundation, Inc., $45,500 to increase the safety of residents and staff through the purchase of specialized bath tubs and transfer lifts;
  • Volunteers of America, $50,000 over two years for First Step, business development and marketing support for entrepreneurs with disabilities who participate in the Working Order Program.

For more information about any of these projects, contact Dee Delaney, Executive Director of FISA Foundation, 412-456-5550 or dee@fisafoundation.org.

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.

Digital Accessibility Trend Analysis (DATA) Launched

Powers, Pyles, Sutter & Verville PC (PPSV), led by disability law experts John D. Kemp and Elisabeth Doyle, are launching Digital Accessibility Trend Analysis (DATA). DATA is a subscription service available to business, government and individuals who need the latest in accessibility law to maintain their competitive edge.

The momentum of accessibility law is growing at breathtaking speed, and universal accessibility is “an idea whose time has come.” DATA feeds the needs of industry to monitor web accessibility and digital technology in light of growing legal realities and the pervasiveness of internet reliance in the areas of education, commerce, employment, and social networking. Read the announcement for more information.

Peter V. Berns Named Executive Director of The Arc of the United States

Peter V. Berns, a nationally recognized nonprofit sector leader and public interest lawyer, has been named executive director of The Arc of the United States, the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Currently executive director of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Berns will assume his duties full time on July 7, 2008.

In his 16 years at Maryland Nonprofits, he built the association from a start-up to a position of prominence in the nonprofit community, nationally, with more than 1,700 members of all sizes, all sectors and from all regions of the state. In addition, he has served as chief executive officer of the Standards for Excellence Institute since its inception in 2004. Read the full press release.

New Web Community Brings Together Parents of Visually Impaired Children

The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI) has launched FamilyConnect, www.familyconnect.org, an online, multimedia community for parents and guardians of children with visual impairments. The site will help these families connect and give busy parents, grandparents and other caretakers a place to find comprehensive resources and support 24 hours a day. Read the complete press release for more information.

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.

Paths to Inclusion Promotes Full Participation of Youth with Disabilities in Society

Paths to Inclusion debuted April 3 at the national conference of the organization Kids Included Together (KIT) in San Diego. Published by the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF), Paths to Inclusion is a resource guide to help youth-serving organizations integrate youth with disabilities into their regular programs.

The guide was developed by an Inclusion Task Force organized by MEAF, which includes leaders of national and community-based organizations that serve youth and people with disabilities, along with representatives of universities, foundations and government agencies.

Read the press release and download the publication. (The publication is also featured as part of Disability Funders Network’s Inclusion Toolkit on the Inclusion section of this site.)

International Coalition Launches Groundbreaking Disability Rights Fund

The Open Society Institute, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, and an anonymous donor announced on March 31 a groundbreaking collaborative to support the human rights for people with disabilities.

Launched on the first anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD), the Disability Rights Fund will provide financial support for human rights advocacy in the developing world and Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union. The broad objective of the fund will be to empower disabled persons organizations around the world to effectively implement and monitor the CPRD. Read the press release.

Integrated Process Solutions Launched

DFN Board Member Rich Donovan has announced the launch of Integrated Process Solutions LLC, www.returnondisability.com. Integrated Process Solutions LLC is a strategic consulting firm that works with large corporations and governments to help them understand their position in the business/disability space and to allocate capital profitably. Focusing on seven interfaces with client firms, Integrated Process Solutions LLC will distill them to one performance measure: Return on Disability™.

In support of Integrated Process Solutions LLC, Rich Donovan also launched an ‘Electronic White Paper’, addressing a new issue every Monday in the business/disability space. This forum is meant to provoke discussion, and seed the roots of change. This week will start with first principles, addressing a critical component of success in any part of the business world; Quality. The ‘Electronic White Paper’ can be found at http://returnondisability.blogspot.com/. Read the press release.