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Inclusive Philanthropy

The Value of Listening

Learning from The Gates Foundation’s Pras Ranaweera

Pras Ranaweera with all the fellows sitting and standing around her

Pras Ranaweera with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., July 21 – “People love to talk about themselves, but it is more important to listen,” Pras Ranaweera expressed to a room full of energized RespectAbility Fellows.

Ranaweera practiced her sage advice by using the majority of time to hear personal stories and suggestions from the Fellows and staff. She listened to their experiences with inclusion in the public and private school systems. During the sharing session, Ranaweera carefully took notes, demonstrating her commitment to promoting the next generation of leaders – the most treasured part of her work at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As the Senior Portfolio Officer of K-12 Education at the Gates Foundation, Ranaweera is able to impact the lives of young people nationally on a daily basis. Prior to her work with the foundation, she served as Chief of Staff for Data and Accountability at D.C Public Schools where she was quickly promoted to Deputy Chief of Assessments. There, she oversaw the district’s assessment portfolio for more than 40,000 students, managed 115 schools’ transition to online PARCC testing, overhauled the district’s student report cards and oversaw the collection and reporting of timely, accurate data on student achievement for the district.

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Genesis Prize Foundation, Jewish Funders Network, ORLO and Beverly Foundation to Support RespectAbility

Funding will Expand Inclusion of Jews with Disabilities, Fight Stigmas and Advance Opportunities

headshot of Itzhak Perlman holding his violin in front of him

Itzhak Perlman

Rockville, Md., June 14 – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for people with disabilities, is very grateful to announce that it has been chosen for a Breaking Barriers Award from The Genesis Prize Foundation and Jewish Funders Network to promote inclusion of people with disabilities in Jewish life.

The award is part of a matching grant program created in honor of 2016 Genesis Prize Laureate Itzhak Perlman, a world-renowned violinist and activist for people with disabilities. Perlman regifted the funds to promote Jewish inclusion for those with disabilities, as well as to support young people pursuing careers in classical music.

As part of receiving the Breaking Barriers Award, RespectAbility committed to match all funds received. Two new donors to RespectAbility are matching this gift: Ahuva and Aaron Orlofsky; and Beverly Foundation.

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Thinking Outside The Box

A Conversation with Ami Aronson of The Bernstein Family Foundation

Ami Aronson and RespectAbility Fellows standing and seated in a posed photograph, smiling for the camera

Ami Aronson with RespectAbility Fellows and Staff

Rockville, Md., June 8 – As her husband often says, Ami Aronson never thinks outside of the box; she never even knew the box existed.

En route to her current position as the Executive Director for the Bernstein Family Foundation (BFF), Aronson embarked on a circuitous journey. From her work at a refugee camp in Thailand, to tackling issues of sex trafficking in Nepal, to running the Women’s AIDS Network in San Francisco, Aronson has served as a champion for women and children alike with the self-proclaimed mantra of viewing life as a journey; one with no endgame or stopping point, but rather a continuous exploration of the world with a deep desire to have social impact.

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BREAKING NEWS: Ford Foundation Stuns with New Announcement

Washington, Sept, 12 – There are no words that can express our joy and appreciation with the Ford Foundation and its groundbreaking president, Darren Walker, for making history today. The Ford Foundation, with this major announcement, is the first major foundation to confront its ableism.

Read the full announcement: Ignorance is the enemy within: On the power of our privilege, and the privilege of our power.

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Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation Gives Major Gift to RespectAbility: National Leadership Program Announced

Washington, D.C. – RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities (PwDs) to achieve the American dream, is delighted to announce that the Stanford and Joan Alexander Foundation awarded a lead gift to create a new National Leadership Program.

“We are thrilled to have this new transformative support,” Jennifer Mizrahi, president of RespectAbility, said. “Thanks to Stanford and Joan Alexander, we will be able to launch the National Leadership program for young leaders with and without disabilities who are going into public policy, advocacy, journalism, public relations, and other leadership roles.”

Joan Alexander added, “We are pleased to help launch a program that will not only support and train young leaders, but will also raise awareness and make a significant impact on how our country views, respects, and includes people with disabilities.”

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