The Disability Inclusion Fund (DIF) is announcing the launch of a $200,000 rapid response fund to support the needs of people with disabilities related to the impact of COVID-19.

“In times of crisis, vulnerable communities face the threat of greater marginalization and we are already seeing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. Folks are experiencing lack of safe attendant care, amplification of mental health symptoms, and challenges to accessing resources within the community without adequate support,” said Nikki Brown-Booker, program officer for the Disability Inclusion Fund. “At the policy level, the disabled community faces the possibility of being systematically excluded from medical care due to bias and rationing of treatments. In addition to needing immediate resources to protect our communities from imminent harm, people with disabilities must lead the way on developing equitable policies and systems that will impact them.”

Through rapid response grantmaking, the DIF will provide support for organizations on the frontlines that are serving people with disabilities during this crisis. This will include mutual aid and support for organizing, policy, and systems-change advocacy. Read our request for proposals here and see our frequently asked questions for more information.

The Disability Inclusion Fund is a donor collaborative housed at Borealis Philanthropy that will support US groups run by and for disabled people to lead transformational change. The $10 million, five-year fund is supported by the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy, which is comprised of foundation presidents who are committed to disability inclusion as part of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion within philanthropy.

“We created the Presidents’ Council and the Disability Inclusion Fund to help move philanthropy toward greater disability inclusion. COVID-19 lays bare what the disability community has been telling us all along—that our social systems fail to include them,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and co-chair of the Presidents’ Council. “During this pandemic and as we return to business, we must seek out and support the disability community’s voices, actions and innovative solutions.”

The fund will ensure that its grantmaking recognizes how disability is shaped by race, gender, class, and other identities, centers people of color, queer and gender non-conforming people, and women within the disabled community, focuses on collaboration between disability justice and other social movements, and is accountable to the disability rights movement.

The rapid response fund will also prioritize directing resources to communities whose access to support is increasingly unstable due to the impact of COVID-19.

“This crisis has amplified the inequities faced by so many in our society, including those in the disability community. We believe that this rapid response fund is an important step toward health equity and providing support for disability-led aid and policy initiatives,” said Richard Besser, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and co-chair of the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy.

Rapid response funding was prompted by the pandemic, and is complementary to the fund’s long-term goals of meaningful, sustained investment in disability inclusion and justice efforts. In the summer of 2020, the DIF will share information on how to apply for additional grants.

How to apply
Applicants may request up to $15,000, and applications can be submitted beginning on April 22, 2020. The submission due date is May 6, 2020. We anticipate making grant notifications and payments within two weeks from the date of submission.

Click here for our request for proposals and please read our frequently asked questions before submitting an application.

The DIF is committed to responding as quickly as possible to requests for funding, and to making all application materials available in multiple forms to be accessible to all.

You can access the application at Other accessible application formats include Google Forms, large print, video interviews, or phone interviews. To obtain and complete the application in alternative formats, please contact Nikki Brown-Booker, program officer for the Disability Inclusion Fund at [email protected] or by phone at (510) 255-9249.

If you are using the Borealis grant online portal, we strongly recommend using Google Chrome for best results. If you have problems accessing the grants portal, contact [email protected] for assistance.

The Disability Inclusion Fund is a donor collaborative housed at Borealis Philanthropy. Current donors include the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the California Endowment, the Chicago Community Trust, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Heinz Endowments, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the New York Women’s Foundation, NoVo Foundation, Open Society Foundations, the Ruderman Family Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, WITH Foundation, and anonymous donors.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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