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Disability Justice & Philanthropy: A Message to Funders

Disability Justice & Philanthropy: A Message to Funders


♫ [affecting piano music] ♫ Disability is a normal, positive part of human diversity. Disability is diverse, and people with disabilities have other important identities. Disabled people come from different cultures. These parts of our lives also affect what we are able to do and how people treat us. Nothing about us without us. We want to have a say in everything that affects us. We are people with disabilities building power and inclusive social justice movements. Funders should serve people with diverse disabilities. My name is Sara Minkara. I am blind, I am a Muslim, and I’m a woman. I have a nonprofit organization—ETI, Empowerment Through Integration— that focuses on changing the narrative surrounding disability. There’s a huge inequality between the reality of persons with disabilities and what support is going towards that. Only two percent of international funding is going to persons with disabilities. My name is Dessa Cosma. I am a white disabled woman. I’m a little person who often uses a wheelchair. I have started a disability organization called Detroit Disability Power, and we are organizing people with disabilities and collaborating with other social justice movements around our issues that intersect with their issues. People with disabilities are some of the most impoverished people in the United States. We typically live below the poverty line, and because of lack of access to education and jobs, we will remain there unless we do something about it. And so to work on anti-poverty or economic justice without a focus, at least in some way, on disability means that you’re leaving out the most marginalized people in that marginalized category. My name is Maddy Ruvolo. I am a young white woman with brown curly hair, wearing a bright-green shirt. I’m a transportation planner. About five years ago, I discovered that there was a disability community and got really involved in the community. The key issues to focus on are things like health care, employment, education, deinstitutionalization, where people are not getting their very basic needs met. My name is Rabia Belt. I am a black woman with short curly hair, wearing a green shirt. I am an assistant professor of law at Stanford Law School. I’m also a professor of history, by courtesy, at Stanford. And I’m a council member of the National Council on Disability. Forty to 60 percent of people in prisons or jails are people with disabilities. And it’s not just people with disabilities going into the prison system, but also that prison itself exacerbates and causes disabilities as well, both in terms of disabilities such as tuberculosis, HIV— but then also the trauma of incarceration itself. My name is Alice Wong. I’m an Asian American woman in a wheelchair, wearing bright-red lipstick. And I’m wearing a mask attached to a tube that’s used to help me breathe. I’m the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project. Every community needs to have the right to have a part in civil society, to vote, to be part of our city councils. There are still a lot of barriers people with disabilities face in political participation. For example, in 2012 over 30 percent of people with disabilities reported difficulty voting, compared to eight percent of nondisabled people. My name is Ryan Easterly. I am a black man with a teal-and-white striped shirt, wearing glasses. I currently serve as executive director of the WITH Foundation. It’s a private foundation that promotes comprehensive and accessible health care for adults with developmental disabilities. The Council on Foundations estimates that only one percent of those working in philanthropy identify as individuals with disabilities. Part of grant making and part of philanthropy is strengthened when you have people with lived experience in various aspects, including disability, involved in the process—actually on staff. I am a young adult black woman, sitting in a chair. On my right leg is a prosthetic limb, and I am wearing a red romper with a black head wrap. My name is Keri Gray. My current job is at the US Business Leadership Network. What’s different about the disability narrative is that it’s this added layer of accommodations. So, insuring that when you’re hiring people with disabilities that your buildings are accessible, that people with wheelchairs are actually able to get into the building, that if you want to hire folks who are Deaf and hard of hearing that there’s some type of communication channel that allows for them to be implemented throughout the organization. My name is Rebecca Cokley. I am wearing a Prince-purple dress because I am a huge Prince fan. I am the Senior Fellow for Disability Policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. There is not a civil rights issue today impacting marginalized communities that does not have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities. Come, sit with us, talk to us. We are already there, but the tables that you have created are fundamentally inaccessible to us. So we’re asking you, join us and apply the disability lens across your funding strategy. We ask for disability access because when we evolve our institutions to be fully inclusive, we can build a world where all are free. True inclusion is revolutionary. For more information go to disabilityinclusion.net.

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