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New Movement Among Grantmakers Sets Precedents on Inclusion & Equality

New Opportunities for 1-in-5 Living with Disabilities

Washington, D.C., Dec. 7 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, recognizes the work of several foundations who are making inclusion and equality of people with disabilities a priority.

The Ford Foundation continues to take major steps to include disability in all their work. Led by their President Darren Walker, they have championed a complete evaluation and inclusion of disability in all the work of philanthropists. A major piece by Ford’s Noorain Khan recently detailed the foundation’s dramatic progress on this front. Additionally, Ford President Darren Walker just did a major interview on this topic with Sen. Tom Harkin in front of more than 200 disability activists/leaders. Harkin co-authored the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition, J.P. Morgan Chase’s philanthropy recently gave support to some of their grantees to ensure that their national conferences are accessible. At the same time, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has created a free online toolkit on disability inclusion that can be used by any nonprofit anywhere while the Chicago Community Trust is doing important work on disability inclusion through their ADA Compliance Guide for Nonprofits.

This coming Monday, December 11th, the MacArthur Foundation is joining the wave by asking finalists for its major 100-million-dollar challenge to include people with disabilities in their work. Their initiative, “100&Change,” is a competition for a $100 million grant to fund a single proposal that promises real and measurable progress in solving a critical problem of our time. Never before has a grant anywhere near this size asked grantees to address how they plan to assure access to benefits for persons with disabilities.

“Historically, philanthropists have not asked potential grantees to see and treat people with disabilities equally,” said RespectAbility’s President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who will be attending the unveiling of the winner next week. “Now, MacArthur is raising the bar on equality by including the one-in-five people on earth who have a disability in such a major endeavor.”

There are four finalists for the $100 million-dollar investment, and each is exciting. The event will be held December 11th in Chicago. The finalists are:

RespectAbility is available as a free resource for any grant-maker or nonprofit looking to ensure their inclusion efforts include people with disabilities.

Meet the Author

Lauren Appelbaum
Lauren Appelbaum

Lauren Appelbaum is the communications director of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, and managing editor of The RespectAbility Report, a publication at the intersection of disability and politics. Previously she was a digital researcher with the NBC News political unit. Appelbaum currently oversees RespectAbility’s outreach to Hollywood to stand up against ableism and other prejudice – while promoting positive, accurate, diverse and inclusive media portrayals on TV and in film. To reach her, email

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