ACL Grants Promote Inclusion and Cultural Competency Across Disability Programs

Recently, a variety of ACL disability programs have awarded funding to enhance the cultural and linguistic competency of the disability network and ensure that all people with disabilities can access ACL-funded programs and services.

The disability community is as diverse as the country itself. Yet many people with disabilities in underserved communities face unique barriers to accessing disability programs. A majority of ACL diversity programs are authorized by the Developmental Disabilities Act or the Rehabilitation Act. Both pieces of legislation discuss the need for programs to reach people with disabilities in underserved communities.

Funding from the Administration for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) will establish a new community of practice on disability for states, commission a diversity gap analysis of the developmental disabilities network, and fund diversity fellowships at University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) across the country. AIDD will also be supporting four UCEDDs to establish partnerships with minority-serving Institutions and community colleges as well the Georgetown University UCEDD and partners to develop a diversity training curriculum for the DD network.

The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) will fund research training for individuals with advanced degrees at minority-serving institutions to increase their capacity to conduct high-quality disability and rehabilitation research and development projects.

The Independent Living Administration (ILA) will fund a demonstration project to increase cultural competence, outreach, and understanding of service needs of Native Americans with disabilities. 

Read about each of the grants below.

UCEDD Diversity Fellowships, Minority-Serving Institutions Grants, and Training Action Planning Grants

AIDD awarded FY2016 National Training Initiative funding totaling over $1 Million to 22 UCEDDs. The grants seek to build cultural competence capacity within and increase the diversity of leadership, staff, and governing bodies across the DD network. They also seek to increase the number of people from underrepresented communities who benefit from AIDD-supported programs and to improve the recruitment and employment of people from underrepresented communities within the UCEDD network.

The grants include:

  • MSI Planning Partnerships Grants will provide seed funding to four UCEDDs to each establish a partnership with a minority-serving institution (MSI), community college, or other training program that serves underrepresented populations. UCEDDs and partners in Arizona, Mississippi, and Tennessee will jointly plan and co-design training experiences and utilize a variety of innovative knowledge exchange and transfer strategies with the goals of promoting interdisciplinary approaches to research, training, and services and building a pipeline for students to undergraduate and graduate training programs.
  • Diversity Fellowship Program Grants will be used to support the recruitment and retention of trainees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to participate in a fellowship experience at the UCEDD with opportunities to make systemic change through a capstone project and community based activities. This is the second year AIDD is funding these fellowships, meet the 2015–2016 class of fellows.
  • A Diversity and Inclusion Training Action Planning grant of over $275,000 was awarded to the Georgetown University UCEDD to lead a consortium, including the UCEDDs at the University of Southern California and Georgia State University, that will develop a diversity training curriculum that builds the skills, knowledge, strategies, and methods to guide the work of sustaining diversity and cultural and linguistic competence within developmental disability programs.
    • ILA awarded an additional $50,000 to support staff from Centers for Independent Living to attend the Diversity Leadership Institute, at Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence to provide training and learning opportunities that will spur necessary changes within systems, organizations, policies, and practices.

See a list of the UCEDDs and partners who were awarded grants.

AIDD State Community of Practice

AIDD awarded a five-year cooperative agreement to Georgetown University totaling nearly $350,000 to establish a diversity community of practice. The community of practice will build capacity across and within states through state consortia that create and share policies, practices, and systems supporting the critical need for leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in the IDD field.

Georgetown will also assist states with:

  • Identifying emerging and promising cultural and linguistic competence practices in disability programs
  • Establishing mechanisms to share and disseminate information
  • Developing ideas to address state-level challenges as well as inequalities and the lack of diversity in leadership across the I/DD network
  • Developing and implementing a state or program plan for addressing identified challenges and issues
  • Providing peer-to-peer technical assistance
  • Promoting interagency collaboration and support for cultural brokering

Diversity Gap Analysis of the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Network

AIDD awarded Global Evaluation and Applied Research Solutions (GEARS) a nearly $350,000 contract to conduct a gap analysis of cultural competency in DD network programs. The gap analysis will assess the extent to which DD network programs are cultural competent and the role of AIDD in supporting DD network programs with this work. The Gap Analysis will include both a broad analysis and a sampling of DD network programs. It will gather information on barriers to cultural competency as well as evidenced-based, emerging, and best practices. Based on the results of the gap analysis, GEARS will make recommendations on how AIDD can support the DD network moving forward and develop a resource tool that will allow AIDD and the DD network to assess the network’s progress on cultural competency. This is a one-year contract with an optional year.

Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program—Minority-Serving Institutions

NIDILRR awarded one grant for $150,000 to Langston University, OK for 60-month project period to provide advanced research training to individuals with doctorates or advanced degrees to enhance capacity to conduct high-quality multidisciplinary disability and rehabilitation research. Specifically, the grant will improve capacity at Langston University and other minority-serving institutions to develop and support a “training pipeline infrastructure” to facilitate the development of highly-qualified investigators of color who can lead and participate in research and development aimed at improving the employment status of individuals with disabilities from traditionally underserved racial and ethnic populations.

Field Initiated Projects (FIP) Program for Minority-Serving Institutions

NIDLRR awarded one grant totaling $199,000 to California State University, Los Angeles University Auxiliary Services for a three year project to improve the capacity of minority entities to conduct high-quality disability and rehabilitation research and development projects, such as researching the efficacy of a novel intervention to reduce risk for cardiovascular disease among people with spinal cord injury through exercise.

Native American Independent Living Demonstration (NAILD) Project

ILA awarded three grants with a combined total of over $600,000 for a period of three years to Western New York Independent Living, Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Inc., and North Country Independent Living in Wisconsin to develop capacity building within existing Centers for Independent Living to increase service to individuals with disabilities in Indian Country. Anticipated outcomes include:

  • Gaining an understanding of service needs of Native Americans with disabilities living in Indian Country
  • Improving cultural competence in regards to the needs of specific tribal organizations targeted by current CIL grantees
  • Capturing lessons learned and best practices for outreach and service delivery for Native Americans with disabilities

Identification of Exceptional Programs and Practices in Minority Participation in Rehabilitation and Independent Living

ILA awarded $316,976 to support Independent Living Research and Utilization (ILRU) through a supplement to contract to identify exceptional programs, practices and organizational principles that support equitable treatment and services, outreach, and practitioner recruiting and training for members of minority populations. To do this, ILRU will effectively work with and integrate the knowledge, cultural competence and strengths of a wide range of Native American, independent living and civil rights constituency organizations. This process will include the ILA, Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs). ILRU will examine:

  • Efficiency and effectiveness of outreach and service delivery to minority populations
  • Variables impacting IL program performance as related to minority populations
  • Adequacy and appropriateness of the IL performance measures
  • Organization effectiveness at the ILA, CIL and SILC levels


Last Modified: 10/27/2016