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Inclusive Philanthropy

Philanthropy Apprentices Make An Impact On Partner Organizations

Los Angeles, CA, February 18 – RespectAbility is proud to announce that our first Philanthropy Apprentices in the National Leadership Program have completed their training and been directly placed with partner organizations. Thanks to the generous support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Ari Katz, Georgia Carr and Alejandra Tristan have brought disability visibility to the philanthropic sector. The National Leadership Program allowed Apprentices to “earn while they learned,” then transition into new jobs. Each apprentice found employment that supported a cause unique to their interests.

“It is vital for diversity programs to include people with disabilities,” said Hon. Steve Bartlett, Chair Emeritus of RespectAbility. Bartlett was lead co-author the Americans with Disabilities Act when he served in Congress. “We have come a long way on disability rights, but we need to ensure that people with disabilities are at all decision-making tables – and that includes in philanthropy. We are grateful to MacArthur for recognizing the importance of full inclusion and access for people with disabilities.” [continue reading…]

RespectAbility Enables Talented Leaders with Disabilities to Enter Field of Philanthropy

Rockville, MD, August 3 – While CDC data shows that one in four adults have a disability, a report from the Council on Foundations showed that less than one percent of full-time staff at foundations are people with disabilities. Sadly, foundations are missing the lived experience of people who know the challenges and talents of people with disabilities. Thus, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is supporting RespectAbility’s efforts to enable philanthropy to benefit from the energy, skills, and insights of talented people with disabilities.

The MacArthur Foundation is granting funds for RespectAbility to expand their National Leadership Program to include a diverse talent-pipeline of people with disabilities that will work directly in philanthropy. Participants (Fellows) in this “earn while you learn” program will gain skills and experience while working alongside RespectAbility for the first part of the grant period. They will then transition into a role with a host philanthropic partner in a foundation or philanthropy serving organization (PSO). [continue reading…]

Disability Nonprofit Urges Government to Focus on More Disability Inclusion, Accessibility in the Arts

RespectAbility’s testimony suggests that the NEA can dramatically strengthen their work by including more people with disabilities and ensuring that all grantees’ work is fully accessible to people with disabilities

Los Angeles, CA, April 14 – As the conversations around diversity and inclusion continue to circulate throughout the entertainment industry, RespectAbility is urging the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to make a bigger effort toward including more people with disabilities in their programs, as well as ensuring that all grantees’ work will be full accessible to people with disabilities.

“With a relatively small amount of additional work, the NEA could make a much larger difference in our nation on behalf of the 61 million people with disabilities,” said Lauren Appelbaum, Vice President of Communications at RespectAbility. “What we see and hear in the arts and entertainment media impacts our thoughts and feelings. Positive, accurate representation could remove stigmas that have long held people with disabilities back.” [continue reading…]

New Study Shows Less Than One Percent of Foundations Have Any People with Disabilities on Full-Time Staff

Washington, D.C., Oct. 20 – While CDC data shows that one in four adults have a disability, a new report from the Council on Foundations shows that less than 1 percent of foundations have any people with disabilities on their full-time staff, showing that while the philanthropic sector may want to include people with disabilities in their work, they have a long way to go on actually doing so.

“All of us at RespectAbility congratulate the Council on Foundations for conducting this study, as we believe that acknowledging the problem is the first step toward fixing it,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility, a national disability advocacy nonprofit. “I see tremendous goodwill and an interest in doing better, but most foundations still haven’t made a real commitment to including people with disabilities and creating opportunities for them to participate fully in philanthropy.”

This new report echoes the conclusions of RespectAbility’s 2019 Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits study, which found that even among this very well-intentioned sector, most organizations are not doing enough – or anything – to provide people with disabilities the access and accommodations they need to participate, just like anyone else. For example, most foundation websites are not screen reader accessible. This means that someone who is blind could not even access the job postings for most foundations, let alone apply. [continue reading…]

19 Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations Join Together to Advance Access for People with Disabilities

Including People with Disabilities in Nonprofits & Foundations Accessibility & Equity Webinar Series. Two separate photos of diverse people with disabilities smiling togetherRockville, MD, Oct. 17 – In an unprecedented new partnership, 19 philanthropic and nonprofit organizations have joined together to present a series of free online training sessions on the nuts and bolts of how to include people with disabilities. The series and partnership comes following the recent release of Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits: A Study on the Inclusion and Exclusion of the 1-in-5 People Who Live with a Disability and What You Can Do to Make Things Better,” which shows that while 75% of the sector wants to include people with disabilities, they don’t know how to do it.

Indeed, despite great intentions, the push for diversity, equity, access and inclusion in the field has not yet led to better outcomes for people with disabilities in our sector. Time and time again, organizations unintentionally discriminate against people with disabilities in their grant applications, programming, events, resources, websites and hiring practices.

“It’s all about getting the skills needed to ensure access, opportunity and equity for people with disabilities,” said Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, the nonprofit which convened the partnership and sessions. “Hence, the series was designed by people with disabilities themselves to specifically complement what people told us in the study that they want to learn, and where there are gaps in equity practices.” All eight sessions will be free and online, with live captioning. There will be absolutely no fundraising solicitation. [continue reading…]

New Study: Philanthropists and Nonprofits Exclude People with Disabilities

Report Released at the National Press Club, Available to view online at

Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits: A study on inclusion and exclusion of the 1-in-5 people who live with a disability and what you can do to make things better. RespectAbility logo. Three images of diverse groups of people with disabilitiesWashington, D.C., April 25 – Nonprofits and foundations are full of good work and good will. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of people who work in the social sector say their organizations have made a public commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and have policies that prohibit their groups from denying people with disabilities equal opportunity to participate in services and activities. Yet a new study out today shows that even among this very well-intentioned group, most foundations and nonprofits aren’t doing enough – if anything – to enable people with disabilities to have the access and accommodations they need to fully participate in the good these groups are doing. 

The study, “Disability in Philanthropy & Nonprofits: A Study on the Inclusion and Exclusion of the 1-in-5 People Who Live with a Disability and What You Can Do to Make Things Better” by RespectAbility, a nonpartisan group working on inclusion efforts for people with disabilities, surveyed 969 people who work at nonprofits and foundations, conducted five focus groups and spoke one-on-one with 14 executives at philanthropy-serving organizations. The study was released at an event this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Anyone can read the study at [continue reading…]

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


Read the webinar transcript
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…]

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