Stepping Up Our Commitment to Disability Inclusion

Stepping Up Our Commitment to Disability Inclusion

Four disabled people of color with canes and prosthetic legs laugh while chatting. They are on a rooftop deck, in chairs of various height, with greenery and city high-rises in the background.
Meg Fairweather and JulieAnne Behar

How it Started

It began like so many opportunities for change do. We heard about something compelling that a peer philanthropy organization was doing at a convening of grantmakers.

We learned about the Disability & Philanthropy Forum and the inclusion pledge through PEAK Grantmaking's Community Conversation on Driving Racial Equity in Philanthropy event, where PEAK announced they had recently signed on to the pledge. The pledge and resources crafted by the Disability & Philanthropy Forum gave our teams at Philanthropy Northwest a roadmap and a band of fellow philanthropy folks to travel with on this transforming journey.

Why We’re Doing This

We know our region, network, and communities are strongest when we recognize, respect and uplift all the ways we are different – not just our similarities.

Anjana Pandey, interim CEO at Philanthropy Northwest explained why we’re making this commitment. “We at Philanthropy Northwest are proud to sign the Disability Inclusion Pledge under the leadership of the Disability & Philanthropy Forum. In our ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) learning journey, building a stronger disability inclusion lens directly aligns with our equity values and priorities.”

“Also, we recognize that discrimination and inequality compound for people holding intersectional identities (such as disability; Black, Indigenous, People of Color; LGBTQ+; gender; class and other groups). This pledge, its action plan and the collaboration with other philanthropic organizations support us in deepening our DEI work by taking a whole-person approach in all we do,” said Anjana.

Everyone benefits by creating a more accessible world. How many of us have used an automatic door open button, or a dip in the curb to maneuver a stroller or hand cart, or used captions while watching our favorite fast-moving drama? Creating accessible programming, activities and grant practices not only helps people living with disabilities but also ALL our community members.

Where We’re Headed

We’re taking a learning-in-action approach to this effort using the guidance and resources developed by the Disability & Philanthropy Forum. An emerging philanthropy-serving organization that is fiscally sponsored by the Proteus Fund, the Disability & Philanthropy Forum was convened by the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy to strengthen the sector’s commitment to disability rights and justice with leadership from the disability community.

While we have much to learn to create a more accessible Philanthropy Northwest – in all our spaces – we stand by the action steps of the pledge, which means that we will work harder to:

  • Include disability community engagement
  • Use disability-inclusive language
  • Be intentional about offering accessible events
  • Evaluate our progress through inclusion audits and plans
  • Use best practices for staff and board training and participation
  • Encourage and support disability-inclusive grantmaking practices
  • Conduct periodic measuring and reporting

Will You Join Us?

We hope that Philanthropy Northwest’s commitment to action and accountability by signing this pledge provides you, our members, with the same spark to sign on to the pledge to advance your own disability inclusion journey, just like PEAK Grantmaking inspired us.

Your fellow network member, Northwest Health Foundation is leading the pack, having signed on to the pledge earlier. There is more room in our merry band of travelers on this learning journey.

Now is the time to take meaningful action to learn about and support the disability community. Join us in this journey by having your foundation sign on to the Disability Inclusion Pledge.

Photo courtesy of Disabled And Here.