Disability Rights Fund Becomes an Independent Public Charity

April 4, 2012
Source: Disability Rights Fund



Enhancing our Voice: Disability Rights Fund Becomes an Independent Public Charity


April 4, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      

Contact: Diana Samarasan, Director

Telephone: +1-617-261-4593

Email: dsamarasan@disabilityrightsfund.org


BOSTON, MA – As the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) begins its fifth year of grantmaking, the Fund announces the beginning of operations independent of the Tides Network. “This month, DRF opens the door to a new level of growth,” stated DRF Co-Chairs. “The organization has rapidly expanded since launch; achievement of independence recognizes the hard work and sophistication of operations accomplished to date.”


DRF was launched as a pooled fund in 2008 under the fiscal sponsorship of Tides. “Launching as a Tides project allowed us to begin grantmaking straight away,” said Diana Samarasan, Executive Director of DRF. “In addition to legal status, Tides provided back-office and grants administration support, critical to a start-up fund.” Initiated with four founding donors, in its launch year, DRF made a total of $800,000 in grants to Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs) in seven pilot countries. 


Five years later, and with the support of seven donors, DRF has opened grantmaking to 24 countries around the world and has given out nearly $7 million in advocacy grants to DPOs in 18 countries. “This growth in support for the rights struggles of persons with disabilities around the world mirrors the rapid ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and enables critical participation of people with disabilities in implementation of their rights,” said Diana Samarasan.


As an independent public charity, the main objective of the Fund remains empowerment of DPOs in the developing world, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe/former Soviet Union to participate in advancement of rights, using the tool of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD). DRF prioritizes grants to the most marginalized populations of persons with disabilities, such as persons with psychosocial disabilities, women with disabilities, youth with disabilities and others. “DRF’s new public charity status will expand possibilities for innovative additions to this funding,” stated DRF’s Program Officer for Strategic Partnerships, “for example, cross-movement grantmaking to ensure that disability is mainstreamed into other issue areas.”

As an independent organization, DRF will maintain its unique governance and advisory structure, which incorporates persons with disabilities as decision-makers at all levels of the organization. A new Board will have at least fifty percent persons with disabilities. The Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, a separate organization, will provide grants for ratification and legislative advocacy. The Fund’ss mission and values remain the same. Dedicated donors include the American Jewish World Service, the Australian government’s overseas aid program AusAID, the Open Society Foundations, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).