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Ability Central Awards Grants to 12 Organizations Working with Disability Communities

$1 million awarded for healthcare training, leadership and career development, and digital access initiatives.

Oakland, California – January 9, 2024 – Ability Central has awarded more than $1 million to 12 nonprofit organizations in California working to expand communication access for Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent communities. Recipient organizations offer a diverse array of support and services to these communities. The funding priorities for this grant cycle focus on healthcare training, leadership and career development for people with disabilities within nonprofit organizations, and digital accessibility initiatives.

Eleven of the grants awarded were given to empower organizations to develop or expand their own projects and internal practices. In the 2024 cycle, Ability Central is also committing $100,000 to a joint digital accessibility project with the Institute for Exceptional Care (IEC). IEC is a national nonprofit organization working with coalitions of clinical organizations and healthcare providers to improve patient health and access for people who are disabled. Ability Central will work with IEC to develop online education solutions that empower healthcare professionals to create accessible, inclusive environments in their practice or organization.

“Thanks to our most successful grant cycle ever, we are not only supporting organizations dedicated to helping individuals who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent,  but we’re working with our community to ensure that each grant we make brings us closer to a more inclusive and supportive society,” says Matt Cherry, director of philanthropy at Ability Central.

To be eligible for a grant from Ability Central, an organization must operate within California, and work to expand communication access for those who are Deaf, disabled, or neurodivergent. Funded projects work on communication access either through direct services or with programs supporting technology or research for these communities. Grants range from $10,000 to $100,000 with $1 million awarded annually.

To learn more about Ability Central’s grantmaking in California, visit us online.

2024 Ability Central Grant Recipients

Autism Society Inland Empire, Corona | $100,000

Improving Culturally Responsive Care for Patients with Autism and IDD

Ability Central funds will support the Autism Society Inland Empire to develop tailored training that provides valuable and practical insight for supporting individuals with Autism and other developmental disorders to ensure they can access quality medical care. 

Center for Independent Living, Berkeley | $100,000

ACCELERATE & Emergency Preparedness Peer Ambassador Programs

Ability Central funds will support the CIL to expand two leadership and career development programs for people with communication disabilities through integrating paid internships opportunities:

  1. Accelerate – a youth job readiness program; and
  2. paid Disaster Preparedness Peer Ambassador Program.

CERV, Monterey | $75,000

Improving Healthcare Outcomes through Effective Communication

Ability Central funds will support the Patient Provider Communication Network to multiply its reach by reorganizing, diversifying and augmenting usability of resources that are relevant, respectful, and readily accessible to healthcare providers and people with communication disabilities.

Hearts for Sight Foundation, Temple City | $27,000

Expanding Mental Health Services for the Blind

Ability Central will support Hearts For Sight to:

  1. Expand therapy and peer support services with trained VIP clinicians,
  2. Increase resource workshops,
  3. Promote telehealth.

Support will contribute to improving mental health services that will enhance VIPs’ quality of life.

Kidpower, Santa Cruz | $100,000

Workpower Leadership Training: Skills for Safety and Success in Getting and Keeping Jobs

Ability Central funds will support Kidpower to develop a Workpower training team and program with and for people with disabilities that prepares them to use emotional safety, positive communication, advocacy, and personal safety skills to get jobs and to be safe and successful at their workplaces.

LightHouse for the Blind, San Francisco | $100,000

Training Healthcare Professionals in the Bay Area to Better Serve People who are Blind or DeafBlind

Ability Central funds will support LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to develop modules and implement training for San Francisco Bay Area healthcare providers to strengthen and improve service provision for individuals who are blind, low vision, or DeafBlind.

Mychal’s Learning Place, Hawthorne | $80,000

Mychal’s Social Enterprise Expansion

Ability Central funds will support Mychal’s Learning Place’s expansion of their social enterprise business and job training program, allowing the organization to:

  1. reach 40+ person student waitlist in Year 1 (and 200-300 total students by Year 5)
  2. double the number of employees with ID/DD

QWOCMAP, San Francisco | $80,000

Film & Freedom Academy for Sick & Disabled LBTQIA+ BIPOC

Ability Central funds will support Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project – QWOCMAP to deepen its Film & Freedom Academy workforce development project through its Filmmaker Training Program to expand career, job, and educational opportunities in film for Sick & Disabled LBTQIA+ BIPOC.

San Francisco State University, San Francisco | $100,000

YouDescribeX for Public Health: Enhancing Health-Related Video Accessibility for B/LV People

Funds will support an SFSU and SKERI collaboration to extend YouDescribeX (YDX; an AI-supported video accessibility tool) to public health videos. We will process ~1200 public health videos through YDX AI and revisions from sighted volunteers will be used to train YDX on this type of content.

Society for the Blind, Sacramento | $61,356

Vision Forward: Leadership Development Program

Ability Central funds will support Society for the Blind to create a replicable Leadership Development Program (LDP) for Ability Central grantees and other nonprofits to use to develop future leaders. It will include materials, an online module, consulting, and milestones for measuring progress.

World Institute on Disability, Berkeley | $84,960

Virtual Healthcare Training Series for a person-centered approach

Ability Central funds will support WID to develop a user friendly, accessible, inclusive, and self-directed virtual training series designed to disrupt traditional service provision, and enhance person directed strategies for people with communication disabilities within health and medical services.

Headquartered in Oakland, California, Ability Central is the philanthropic division of the California Communication Access Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2003. Ability Central is committed to serving as an educator, convener, and resource working to expand communication and information access for individuals who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent and communities of support. Ability Central also offers technical support to other nonprofits working to help people with disabilities and provides online information and resources for people with questions about disabilities and communication access. Since 2010, Ability Central has granted more than $13.5 million to 200+ projects, serving more than half a million people with disabilities.

Contact: Grant Barringer, Communications Manager