Mayerson Family Foundations
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Inclusion of People with Disabilities

People with disabilities are marginalized and excluded all

Photo courtesy of Dan Habib’s documentary film Including Samuel, Including Samuel honestly chronicles the Habib family's efforts to include Samuel in every facet of their lives.
too often. We aim to improve the lives of people with disabilities by supporting efforts that promote inclusion and that empower people with disabilities towards self-sufficiency.

The following list is a representation of recent grants and projects in the area of Inclusion of People with Disabilities in which The Mayerson Family Foundations are involved. 

America Speaks
America Speaks ’ mission is to reinvigorate American Democracy by engaging citizens in the public decision-making that most impacts their lives.  Together, citizens and leaders can make better public decisions.  Since their founding in 1995 by Dr. Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer, America Speaks gives citizens an authentic voice in local, regional and national decision-making on the most challenging public issues of the day. They are a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C.

Through their innovative deliberative tools such as the 21 st Century Town Meeting®, more than 130,000 people across the country and around the world have had an impact on their communities. These tools give citizens an opportunity to have a strong voice in public decision-making within the increasingly short timeframes required of decision-makers. As a result, citizens can impact decisions and those in leadership positions can make more informed, lasting decisions.

In 2007, The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation provided a grant to AmericaSpeaks to support staff training, material upgrades and accommodations so that their public meetings would include people with disabilities. 

Disability Funders Network
Disability Funders Network ( DFN ) is a national membership and philanthropic advocacy organization that seeks equality and rights for disabled individuals and communities by bridging philanthropic resources, disability and community. DFN was formed in 1994 as a collaborative effort by a small group of foundations, including the Dole Foundation, committed to replacing the medical/charity model of disability funding then prevalent with a new social change model fed by the evolving ethos of the disability community itself—a model based on empowerment, inclusiveness, constituency involvement and collaboration.  DFN envisions an empowered and functioning democracy with full equality under the law, equal access to services, unconditional respect for difference and the meaningful participation of all communities at tables where decisions are made. 

This year, the Foundation provided DFN with a grant to develop the capacity of funders and grantees nationally to embrace the inclusion of people with disabilities into all grant making.  Through this project DFN will educate funders on the necessity of inclusion as a component of diversity and on the need to practice diversity both within their organizations and in their grantmaking work.

Disability Rights Education Defense Fund (DREDF)
In the year 2000, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebrated ten years of safeguarding the civil and human rights for the forty-nine million people with disabilities in America. DREDF was a critical player in developing this landmark legislation, and is on the front lines to ensure that those rights are not weakened or struck down at the federal, state and local levels. The Foundation created a fellowship at DREDF and provides operating support to the organization.

Ed Roberts Campus
The Ed Roberts Campus is a nonprofit corporation that has been formed by disability organizations that share a common history in the Independent Living Movement of People with Disabilities. These organizations have joined together to plan and develop a state-of-the-art universally designed, transit-oriented campus located at the Ashby BART Station in South Berkeley. The Ed Roberts Campus will house the offices of the collaborating organizations as well as fully accessible meeting rooms, a computer/media resource center, a fitness center, a cafe, and a child development center.

The vision of the Ed Roberts Campus is to create an international center for the Independent Living Movement. For people who live in the Bay Area, the Ed Roberts Campus will offer an impressive array of disability-related services and programs in one totally accessible location. For people who live throughout the state and the country, the campus will be a model of integrated and accessible service delivery and a national resource for research, legal analysis, education, training, and model program development. Internationally, the Ed Roberts Campus will stand as a beacon of the Independent Living Movement of People with Disabilities, providing training, technical assistance, and opportunities for collaboration among people with disabilities and disability organizations worldwide.

The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation made a contribution to the capital campaign of the Ed Roberts Center in 2007.

INclusion Network
The INclusion Network was established as an initiative of the Foundation in 1996 to focus exclusively on helping the Cincinnati community become more inclusive of people with disabilities in school, at work, in religious congregations, and in public venues. Since its inception the INclusion Network fielded requests from individuals and organizations for information, referral, and technical assistance, hosted a fully inclusive annual awards event, and conducted a variety of specialty projects.

The Foundation provided general operating support to the INclusion Network in its early years  but in more recent years the Foundation's support focused on helping the organization promote its work around INclusion INventories.  An INclusion INventory is a comprehensive, systematic consultation service that assists businesses and organizations to look at all aspects of their work to consider how they welcome people who have disabilities as customers, co-workers, community participants and/or research subjects. INclusion INventories often begin with a review of basic physical access features, but usually broadens its focus to address policies, procedures and practices that make it easier for people who have disabilities to get involved. INventories are conducted in partnership with the customer organization or business, and finding/recommendations are arrived at through problem-solving. Completion of an INclusion INventory is documented by a final report to the requesting organization that offers practical methods on how to achieve both ADA minimum standards and best practices related to the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Unfortunately, in July 2009 the Inclusion Network ceased operations.  It was with a heavy heart that the Foundation bid farewell to an organization that had made such important contributions to our community. 

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