The basic needs of people with disabilities are not very different from those of other groups: they include employment, health care, education, family services, housing, transportation and participation in the arts and community activities.
According to the Foundation Center, only 2.9 percent of grant dollars awarded in 2002 was directed to programs serving people with disabilities. People who identify as having disabilities are similarly underrepresented on boards or staffs of foundations. When disability funding is awarded, it is often in the health arena – reflecting a common perspective that sees people with disabilities as invalids who need to be “made well.”
If you are a funder, it is not necessary to have a designated disability program area to make a difference. You can have a positive impact on this underserved community by the simple act of making sure that your organization’s working definition of “diversity”and its thinking on social issues include disability. See strategies for disability-inclusive grantmaking.
Disability Funders Network is about educating toward effecting change. We welcome the opportunity to congratulate members and partners when our stated purpose becomes a reality.