Established in 2019, Borealis Philanthropy’s Disability Inclusion Fund (DIF) exists to seed and expand the capacity of the disability justice movement, and amplify powerful grassroots leaders at the forefront of policy advocacy, community organizing, and narrative change work. This month, the DIF announced $3.5 million in awards to 49 organizations and organizers who are working to build a world where all people have access to self-determination, human dignity, civic participation, and joy.
The DIF’s newest cohort includes organizations across the country doing a broad range of work, from domestic and sexual violence prevention to immigrant rights and disaster relief efforts—and working at the intersections of movements, including gender, racial, and climate justice. Together, these organizations make it clear that disability justice is a cross-cutting issue, central to all movements working toward freedom and liberation.
All DIF grantee partners are led by people with disabilities, and 75% are led by disabled Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders. This year’s cohort also elevates disability communities who have historically experienced barriers to funding, including: Native Americans with disabilities; people who are linguistically diverse and/or use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices; and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Since its inception, the DIF’s grantmaking has been rooted in its value of centering the experiences and wisdom of movement advocates with disabilities—especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color leaders. Accordingly, the Fund employs a participatory approach to grantmaking, with a decision-making process led by grantmaking advocates and funders who possess lived experience with disability, and reflect the communities the Fund aims to serve. “It is imperative that those of us in philanthropy listen to and engage with the people and communities who are most impacted by our work, so that they are not just influencing, but in many cases also leading the work,” said Rich Besser, President and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. “The Disability Inclusion Fund, guided by leaders from the disability community, is a great example of this.”
This year’s DIF grantmaking committee identified a number of strategies to contribute to movement resilience, including:
- Infusing funding in southern states and other underfunded geographical regions in support of a stronger disability justice infrastructure and ecosystem;
- Bolstering disability justice approaches to immigration policy and advocacy;
- Narrative and storytelling strategies that connect disability produced and directed media to social policy changes;
- Building pathways of equitable access to civic power, voice, and participation among marginalized disabled people; and
- Supporting peer-to-peer disability justice centered practices that support the safety and self-determination of deaf people who experience violence.
These priorities are reflected in the selection of the third DIF grantee cohort.
The DIF receives support from a number of foundations, including those belonging to the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy, a group of 16 foundation leaders who have committed to advancing disability inclusion within and beyond the philanthropic sector. The DIF is grateful for the support of the Presidents’ Council and our broader donor table—and encourages other funders to utilize the Fund as a mechanism to pool and distribute aligned funding to bolster the U.S.-based disability justice movement. To learn more about how to partner with the DIF, please email DIF@borealisphilanthropy.org.
2022 DIF Grantee Cohort
*New grantee partners
- Advocating Change Together
- Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network
- Black Phoenix Organizing Collective
- Center for Self Advocacy
- Center for Sustainable Journalism
- Chainless Change
- Citizen Advocacy & DeKalb, Inc.
- Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center*
- Coalition of Texans with Disabilities
- Communication FIRST*
- Count US IN Inc.*
- Detroit Disability Power
- Disability Dance Works
- Disability Justice Culture Club
- Disability Lead
- Disability Voices United
- DiversAbility Incorporated
- El Grupo Vida
- Fireweed Collective
- Gathering Strength
- Generation Patient
- Health Justice Commons
- Inevitable Foundation
- Interrupting Criminalization*
- L&J Empowerment
- Living Hope Wheelchair Association
- National Disability Theater*
- National Pain Advocacy Center*
- Native American Disability Law Center*
- New Disabled South Inc.*
- Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies*
- Peacock Rebellion
- People First Wisconsin
- Project LETS, Inc.
- Rogers Park Community Action Network*
- Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered*
- Senior & Disability Action
- Sibling Transformation Project*
- Sins Invalid
- Sound Theater
- The Keri Gray Group
- United Hmong with Disabilities
- Visionaries of the Creative Arts
- Women Enabled International