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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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Hurricane Katrina and Disability: The DFN Rapid Response Fund

All DFN Rapid Response Funds have been awarded. No further applications can be considered.

About the Fund

The Disability Funders Network (DFN) Rapid Response Fund was launched in October 2005 to to help nonprofit organizations meet the immediate and long-term needs of people with disabilities in the Gulf region as a result of hurricanes, storms and other severe weather conditions. The DFN Rapid Response Fund, with seed money initially from NEC Foundation of America, offered mini-grants to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to meet specific needs such as transportation, shelter, medication, medical equipment and assistive technology.

Grants from the DFN Rapid Response Fund were disbursed directly to nonprofit organizations with the capacity to affect the greatest need among hurricane victims and/or evacuees with disabilities. Initially, grants from the fund focused on immediate needs of the targeted population. Eventually, awards were made to address long-term needs, as well.

Rationale for the DFN Rapid Response Fund

  1. People with disabilities were disproportionately affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
  2. People with disabilities are not adequately served by conventional relief organizations.
  3. Grass-roots, personal efforts have proven to be the most effective approach in meeting the critical needs of people with disabilities.
  4. Disability experts at the national level are in direct, daily contact with grass-roots service providers and are aware of the lack of necessary consideration and resources for people with disabilities.
  5. Organized philanthropy has had a difficult time identifying where to place grants in order to be assured of direct impact on people with disabilities.
  6. On-the-ground service providers do not have the resources necessary to prepare conventional proposals to appeal to foundations for support.

Examples of Unmet Needs Reported by Service Providers

  • Hearing Assistive Technology
    • Teletypewriters (TTYs)
    • Voice carry-over TTYs
    • Relay conference captioning (important for hard of hearing-using just PCs and telephones)
    • Captioned telephones
    • Video communication devices (known as video phones, web cameras, et al.)
    • Signaling cevices (for use with telephones, door bells, alarms)
    • Assistive listening devices
    • Hearing/speech amplification devices
    • Closed caption decoders
  • Communication Access/Interpreters for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (e.g. qualified sign language interpreters and CART Reporters)
  • Durable Medical Products
    • Mobility aids (wheelchairs, walkers, canes, crutches, etc.)
    • Medical supplies (injection supplies, incontinence and urological products, nutritional products, pads, etc.)
    • Adaptive accessories (wheel chair packs and cushions, utensils, clothing, grips and handles, medical warning jewelry)
    • Hearing aids (aids, batteries, etc.)
    • Other (oxygen, hospital beds, transfer lifts, air mattresses, etc.)
  • Products for People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
    • Clothing
    • Toiletries
    • Cleaning supplies
  • Personal Assistance Services Providers

Dimensions of the DFN Rapid Response Fund

The fund was available for transportation, shelter, medication and medical equipment, assistive technology and other identified needs.

  • Grants of $5,000 were the norm
  • All grants were payable to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, not to individuals
  • Disability Funders Network encouraged unrestricted contributions, but donors were permitted to specify grantmaking categories — e.g., technology, transportation, durable medical equipment and supplies, etc.

Governance of the DFN Rapid Response Fund

  • A five-person advisory committee reviewed proposals and allocated funds:
    • Susan Daniels, Ph.D., Committee Chair — Former deputy director, Social Security Administration, and current DFN trustee. Dr. Daniels is a polio survivor and a native of New Orleans.
    • Marcie Roth — Executive director, National Spinal Cord Injury Association and a national disability leader who has surfaced as a “nerve point” during Katrina.
    • Harilyn Rousso — Director of Disabilities Unlimited and project consultant on DFN’s ongoing Emergency Preparedness project.
    • Nancy Starnes — Vice president & chief of staff, National Organization on Disability.
    • Elaine Katz, M.S. — Director of development and grant program, The Henry H. Kessler Foundation.