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Inclusive Philanthropy

Webinar: “Advancing Inclusion – Careers in Philanthropy for Professionals with Disabilities”

Featuring Special Guests James Emmett, Lead Strategist, Workplace Initiative, Poses Family Foundation and Meg O’Connell, PHR, CEO & Founder, Global Disability Inclusion


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Download the accessible PowerPoint
Watch the webinar on YouTube with live embedded captions

Our speakers are two innovators, thought leaders and subject matter experts when it comes to jobs for people with disabilities. Their topic was expanding careers in philanthropy for professionals with disabilities.

Philanthropists have a tremendous opportunity to fight implicit bias and failed systems, as well as to enable millions of people with disabilities to have a better future. However, the professionals working in the field often lack the lived experience necessary to be fully inclusive and empower marginalized people.

This webinar reflected on key practices needed to empower people with disabilities to revolutionize the field of philanthropy.

As a “Nothing About Us, Without Us” organization, RespectAbility is deeply committed to seeing the disability lens added to all philanthropic work. That is why we have created a toolkit with practical resources to help philanthropists, non-profits and non-profit boards to embrace people with disabilities.

That process must begin with getting more professionals with disabilities working in philanthropy. [continue reading…]

Including LGBTQ Individuals with Disabilities in Inclusive Philanthropy

Among lesbian, gay and bisexual adults, 30 percent of men and 36 percent of women also identify as having a disability. The disability community intersects with every other minority group, and the LGBTQ community is no exception. The LGBTQ rights movement has made tremendous progress over the past five years, but there is a lot of work left to be done to ensure that LGBTQ people are truly equal.

Both people who identify as LGBTQ and people who have invisible disabilities such as learning disabilities like dyslexia, mental health or ADHD have to decide whether or not to “come out of the closet.” This is not an easy decision for most people because of the uncertainty of whether or not acceptance will follow. LGBTQ youth who come out sometimes are rejected by their families and friends. Some are even kicked out of their homes and forced to live on the streets. According to a University of Chicago report, LGBTQ young adults had a 120 percent higher risk of reporting homelessness compared to youth who identified as heterosexual and cisgender. [continue reading…]

Including African Americans with Disabilities in Inclusive Philanthropy

Headshot of Daymon John in grayscale with text: #RespectTheAbility, “I see the world in a different way than most people and for me, that’s been a positive thing.” - Daymond John, Black History Month 2018

“I see the world in a different way than most people and for me, that’s been a positive thing.” – Shark Tank star and businessman Daymond John, who has Dyslexia


More than 5.4 million African Americans live with a disability in the U.S., 3.4 million of which are working-age African Americans with disabilities.

Only 28.6 percent of working-age African Americans with disabilities are employed in the U.S. compared to 73.7 percent of working-age African Americans without disabilities. This is in line with the rest of the country, with fully one-in-five Americans having a disability and just 30 percent of those who are working-age being employed, despite polls showing that most of them want to work. This leads to approximately 40 percent of African Americans with disabilities living in poverty compared to 22 percent of African Americans without disabilities. [continue reading…]

Including Latinx and Hispanics with Disabilities in Inclusive Philanthropy

Michelle Rodriguez wearing a black tank and smiling

Michelle Rodriguez

There are 4,869,400 Latinx and Hispanic Americans living with a disability in the U.S.

Only 37 percent of working-age Latinx and Hispanic Americans with disabilities are employed in the U.S., compared to 73.9 percent of working-age Latinx and Hispanic Americans without disabilities. This is in line with the rest of the country, with fully one-in-five Americans having a disability and just 30 percent of those who are working-age being employed, despite polls showing that most of them want to work.

Salma Hayek wearing a black tank smiling for the camera

Salma Hayek

While we know that there are currently at least 1,471,367 Latinx and Hispanic students with disabilities in our country, only 59 percent of them complete high school. To compound this issue, students with disabilities of all backgrounds are at risk for entering the school-to-prison pipeline; there are more than 750,000 people with disabilities behind bars in our nation. [continue reading…]

From Passive to Active: Rodney Hood on Community Development for People with Disabilities

JP Morgan Chase's Rodney Hood with RespectAbility's Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Ben Spangenberg

JP Morgan Chase’s Rodney Hood with RespectAbility’s Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Ben Spangenberg

Rockville, Md. August 8 – Rodney E. Hood’s work to support the disability community began with the assignment to “figure out a way to go beyond passive mode at a gala.” Hood is the Corporate Responsibility Manager at JP Morgan Chase, which entails managing partnerships that promote sustainable community development in underserved communities, including those with disabilities. When Hood first came on as the manager, JP Morgan Chase had relationships with the National Deaf Association and the National Federal of the Blind and other organizations, but they did not extend much beyond the bank’s presence at their conferences.

Now, JP Morgan Chase sponsors people with disabilities to attend a variety of conferences, including accommodations, from the National Urban League to the events of other groups who are doing work that impact people with disabilities despite the fact that these voices may not always be present in the room. “We need to have everyone with a seat at the table,” said Hood. He said he is always thinking, “How do we make the playing field level?” [continue reading…]

Darren Walker, Gay Black Man, is One of the World’s Best Allies for People with Disabilities

Darren Walker Headshot against a red backgroundWhen Time Magazine, in a 2016 profile written by Elton John, highlighted Darren Walker as being one of the 100 most influential people on earth, it was even before he began championing people with disabilities. And yet just months later, the Ford Foundation’s President became one of the most important allies to the one-in-five people with disabilities when he published a perception-shattering and agenda-setting essay “Ignorance is the enemy within: On the power of our privilege, and the privilege of our power.” By focusing his most powerful tool – his authentic voice as a gay, black man who was raised by a single mother – on the inequalities and barriers that another marginalized group – people with disabilities – face, he single-handedly raised critical consciousness all around the globe. [continue reading…]

Groundbreaking PSAs Enable Philanthropists to Live Up To Their Values on Diversity, Equity, Access and Equality

Ads Feature a Diverse Group of People with Disabilities

Rockville, Maryland, April 26 – A new series of PSAs is breaking ground on ensuring philanthropists are inclusive of people with disabilities. Representing a diverse group of people with disabilities, the stars speak directly to the camera in their own words.

There was no script for the ads, only honest conversations with members of various disability communities. Participants in the ads include people who are deaf, blind, wheelchair-users or amputees or have Autism, learning differences or another disability. They include people who are African American, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, white and other backgrounds and are diverse in sexual orientations and identities. Participants communicate both verbally and with American Sign Language. The ads have captions, which is vital to 50 million Americans who are Deaf or hearing impaired.

The ads, focusing on inclusive philanthropy, along with free resources, are viewable at: RespectAbility, the creator of the ads, is an education and advocacy nonprofit fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities. More PSAs that focus on other disability-related topics will be released in the coming weeks.

The people with disabilities in the ads represent the 56 million Americans who live with some sort of disability and exemplify why philanthropists need to include people with disabilities in boards, staffs, grantmaking and more.

[continue reading…]

Rice 360 Gets $15 Million Investment from MacArthur Foundation; Will Be Inclusive of People with Disabilities

An adult finger holding the hand of a baby that is lying down on a blanket.

Washington, D.C., March 19, 2018 – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation joined a small cadre of exceptional champions for inclusion and equality by awarding $145 million in grants to groundbreaking projects that will include people with disabilities equally in their work. MacArthur’s initiative, 100&Change, asked grant applicants – no matter their sector or project goals – to review a series of questions and a check list to ensure the inclusion of people with disabilities in multiple aspects of the grant recipients’ proposed projects. Never before has a grant program anywhere near this size asked grantees to address how they plan to ensure access to benefits for persons with disabilities.

The Rice 360° Institute for Global Health (Rice University) received $15 million to prevent newborn babies in Africa from dying. Indeed, every year, 1.1 million newborns die in Africa alone, mostly from preventable causes — pre-term birth, complications of labor and delivery, and infections. The grant from MacArthur will enable Rice and their partners to providing quality, comprehensive hospital care during birth, labor, and the first weeks of life with a goal of reducing newborn deaths in certain areas by 75 percent.

RespectAbility had the opportunity to ask the winners of the grants about how they ensured their project will include people with disabilities as equals. Professor Maria Oden, a Professor in the Practice of Engineering in the Department of Bioengineering at Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering and Director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University and co-director of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health, gave us her insights: [continue reading…]

As Oksana Masters, a woman with disability adopted from overseas, wins U.S. Paralympic Gold, MacArthur Foundation paves way for other youth with disabilities in orphanages to have better future

Oksana Masters
Oksana Masters reacts to winning the women’s sitting cross-country 1.1-kilometer sprint at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on March 14, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Washington, D.C., March 15 – Oksana Masters won a long-awaited Paralympic gold medal yesterday in a thrilling day of action that saw Team USA win three medals in the cross-country sprint. Masters, who already owned five Paralympic medals (two silver and three bronze) in rowing and Nordic skiing, grabbed the title of Paralympic champion for the first time in her career.

But Masters’ life did not start out easily. Like more than 3 million other children with disabilities around the world, she had been abandoned to an orphanage. Indeed, more than 80 percent of the more than 8 million children living in orphanages around the world have a living parent who would prefer to care for their child if they had the resources to do so. Children with disabilities are often placed in orphanages because of stigmas, poverty and their families’ inability to access basic services such as education or specialized assistance for children with disabilities. Research demonstrates that residential care has a negative impact on children’s cognitive, physical, emotional, and intellectual development. In addition, well-meaning people donate millions of dollars to orphanages, while funds spent on orphanages could support integration of ten times as many children into families and achieve better results.

Thankfully for Masters, she found a “forever family” in the United States who adopted and believed in her. Now, thanks to a major investment by the MacArthur Foundation, many other children with disabilities and others at orphanages around the world will also have a chance to have a permanent family and home. That is because the MacArthur Foundation joining a wave of enlightened philanthropists 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. [continue reading…]

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