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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.

Roles and Tools for Funders

DFN’s project to educate foundations and corporations on disaster relief needs of people with disabilities and older adults is funded by The Milbank Foundation for Rehabilitation, The New York Community Trust, Citigroup, Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, The Archstone Foundation, Cingular Wireless and The Community Technology Foundation of California.


Need for and history of project. What to expect and how to navigate the website. Note that this is primarily disability- and elder-specific. Add a short-list of general foundation reports that stress “how-to.”

Roles and Tools for Funders to Promote Inclusion of People with Disabilities and Older Adults


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  1. Create an inclusive disaster response policy containing guidelines for disaster-relief funding and/or flexible procedures for grant authorization and disbursement.
    Policy Example 1: Corporate Foundation Focusing on Disability
    Policy Example 2: Private Foundation in a Hurricane Area with an Emphasis on Including Older Adults

    • In many cases, when foundation boards choose not to create specific policies, staff-driven disaster-response practices can connect the foundation’s mission to disaster-related needs by incorporating an added degree of flexibility:
    • Just prior to or in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, contact your grantees in disaster areas to determine their disaster-related needs, and be prepared to make grants that require a flexible interpretation of your program areas
      Flexible Practices Example 1: Private Foundation Covering a National Geographical Area
    • Once a grant is made, allow grantees the flexibility to use funds to meet unforeseen needs:
      Flexible Practices Example 2: Community Foundation
  2. Fund projects that include or have a history of collaboration between mainstream organizations and disability and/or aging groups.
    • DFN note: private funders can assist in building these collaborations by hosting and/or funding convenings to build networks, supporting the participation of disability and aging organizations and individuals, and using their social capital and their role as community leaders to encourage government agencies to work with a variety of nonprofit organizations, including those serving people with disabilities and older adults.
      Collaboration Example 1: From “Saving Lives”
      Collaboration Example 2: New York Community Trust 9/11 Grants to CIDNY
      Collaboration Example 3: Quantum Legal Aid Grant
  3. Ensure that the organizations you fund for emergency preparedness and disaster relief and recovery efforts include disabled and older people by asking specific questions about inclusion of these groups.
    • Use proposal screening tools developed by disability and aging funding organizations when evaluating proposals for provision of emergency preparedness and disaster relief services
      Inclusion Example 1: DFN Screening Tool
      Inclusion Example 2: National Council on Disability (NCD) “Saving Lives” Report: “Disability-Specific Indicators”
    • Fund efforts to identify people with disabilities and older adults likely to need assistance in an emergency, making sure that project operators are informed about and respect privacy and security considerations.
    • Support the inclusion of people with disabilities and older adults in services provided by nonprofits serving general populations.
      Inclusion Example 3: Mainstream Organization — DFN Rapid Response Fund Grant to Habitat for Humanity of Walton County, FL
    • Fund/encourage the inclusion of seniors and people with disabilities and the organizations that serve them in local, state and national planning recovery and relief efforts; emphasize the need for such participants to have the necessary experience in emergency and disaster activities.
      Inclusion Example 4: Including People with Disabilities in City Disaster Planning — City of Houston
      Inclusion Example 5: Including Disability Organizations in Leadership Roles in County Emergency Planning — INclusion Network, Hamilton County, OH
      Inclusion Example 6: Including Seniors in Disaster Planning and Response: AARP
      Inclusion Example 7: Including Representatives of Aging/Disabled Organizations in County Planning — Quantum
    • Monitor and evaluate grants to ensure that the needs of disabled and older people are adequately addressed in funded disaster activities.
  4. Fund disability- and aging-specific needs and organizations that are often overlooked by general emergency preparedness and disaster-relief efforts.
  5. Support emergency preparedness, disaster relief training and technical assistance for people with disabilities, older adults and their advocates and service providers, plus cross-training for teams made up of disaster personnel together with disability and aging experts.
    Training Notes and Examples 1: Notes on Training Needs by Disability and Aging Experts
    Training Notes and Examples 2: Hurricane Fund for the Elderly Grants
    Training Notes and Examples 3: DFN Rapid Response Fund Grant to Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities
    Training Notes and Examples 4: Center for Disability and Special Needs Preparedness
    Training Notes and Examples 5: EAD Associates
    Training Notes and Examples 6: John A. Hartford Foundation Grant to the Florida Health Care Association
  6. Support rebuilding of disrupted services and capacity-building for improved service and information infrastructure. [service coordination]
  7. Fund advocacy for accessible infrastructure before and emergency occurs as well as advocacy and legal services during and after a disaster strikes.
  8. Provide funding to enhance communication to seniors and people with disabilities before, during and after disasters as well as communication and coordination among the community based organizations that serve and represent them.

Public Awareness

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  1. Help disseminate resources on emergency/disaster issues to the disability, aging and emergency communities and the media; include information on disabled and older people in print and electronic resources and press releases on disaster/emergency issues.
  2. Work with the media to encourage inclusion of disability and aging issues in their disaster reporting.
  3. Help ensure that resources, information, press releases, etc., on disaster/emergency issues are available in accessible formats.

Community Leadership

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  1. Ensure that all communitywide convenings on disaster preparedness and relief include disabled and older people as equal partners among other representative groups.
    • When holding convenings for grantmakers, include disability and aging issues, as well as funders with expertise in those issues.
    • Hold convenings in accessible facilities; make sure that the programs themselves are accessible and that all materials are available in alternative formats such as audio tapes, computer disks and Braille; provide interpreter services and/or listening devices for deaf and hard-of- hearing people.
  2. Use your leadership position in the community to build connections and relationships between disability and aging organizations, emergency response groups and agencies/individuals who can help to integrate their needs in communitywide solutions.
    • Facilitate meetings between the disability and aging communities to identify similarities and build bridges around disaster issues.
  3. Bring the organizations you support “to the public trough.”
  4. Build awareness among grantmakers by disseminating the results/products of projects you fund and by bringing disability and aging issues to meetings of funders and other community leaders.