Reject Economic Ableist Limits

We’ve extended our application deadline to Wednesday, August 16.

REAL announces the Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute, Saturdays September 16 – October 28, 2017!

The submission deadline has been extended!  Submit your application by midnight on August 16, 2017 to to be considered for our first cohort of leaders!

Click here to download the PDF application

Click here to download the Word application

Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute
Saturdays September 16 – October 28, 2017
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Lunch will be provided

The intent of the Institute is to build power in disability communities by bringing together disability leaders and creating a collective home where our voices come first. Our cross disability and intersectional Institute will be based on the principles of Disability Justice. We envision that through this training, leaders will gain skills and knowledge in accessible organizing while we learn from each other. We are prioritizing the following identities to make up our cohort of leaders: 50% BIPOC, 50% Queer and 100% Disabled. Leaders will participate in interactive training sessions featuring:

  • disability culture and art
  • race, racism
  • intersectionality
  • using relational access and engagement of our bodies for liberation
  • capitalism
  • policy change
  • internalized oppression and truth-telling

Leaders will utilize these concepts to tackle real-world issues through action oriented community building and activism.

Our vision is to build a statewide Disability Justice Coalition to address institutional ableism and demand change.

Participant Expectations

  • Attend all 7 sessions.  1 session may be missed in case of emergency. Please make all effort to let us know in advance:
  • Commit to ongoing collaboration for 8 hours per month for an activism project through February 28, 2018 with one of the following organizations. Participants receive a stipend of $300 upon completion of their 6-month commitment.
    • Coverage Defense Committee (Affordable Care Act, housing)
    • REAL: Reject Economic Ableist Limits (economic justice)
  • Meet regularly with the facilitator guiding your activism project, and fill out monthly reports.
  • Update the cohort and facilitators on the work you did during your activism project at the final celebration for the Institute.
  • The Institute is open to applicants of high school age or older.

Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute Facilitators:
Kathy Coleman, MSW
Leila Haile
Allen Hines
Saara Hirsi
Marjorie McGee, PhD
Kiel Moses

REAL: Reject Economic Ableist Limits

Vision: to empower the disability community and our allies in promoting employment justice and advancing disability justice. REAL seeks to build economic opportunities by addressing systemic barriers to employment, fostering cross-disability leadership, and building partnerships to address economic injustice. REAL prioritizes voices of disabled people with our multiple identities, who experience the brunt of such injustice. We ultimately seek to build a statewide disability justice coalition in Oregon.

The Problem: 
– The 2015 employment rate of non-disabled people in the U.S. was 78.1%, and the poverty rate 12.6%, while Disabled people were employed at 37.1%, and had a poverty rate of 29.2%.*
– In Oregon in 2015, of the 37.1% of the employed Disabled population, those with a high school diploma or equivalent were employed at 34%, 37.9% with some college education or associate’s degree, and 50.8% with a BA degree or higher. This demonstrates that higher education does not guarantee or even dramatically increase opportunity for employment for people with disabilities.*
– In Oregon in 2015, median earnings of the employed Disabled population were $18,248. In contrast, individuals without disabilities had median earnings of $30,241, an earnings gap of $11,993.**

– Model Employer Initiatives – hold the city accountable for putting the Model Employer Strategic Plan into practice
– Oregon Health Authority & REALD – partnering with OHA to implement data collection standards surrounding disability employment
– Cross Movement Collaborations – engaging community partners who are also challenging disparities in employment and economic justice
– Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute – gathering Disabled leaders to gain skills and knowledge in accessible organizing and tackle issues important to the disability community

Partnership:  REAL invites organizations and individuals to participate in activism and research. REAL partners include Autism Empowerment; Disability Art and Culture Project; Living Stages Theater; Oregon Health Authority Office of Equity and Inclusion; Sankofa Collective Northwest; Terry Blosser; Saara Hirsi; Kiel Moses. Contact us for more information about how to partner with REAL.

It’s time to “Get REAL” for our community!  Contact us to join REAL as a partner, or learn how to apply for the 2017 Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute.

Seven people sit and stand, smiling and posing for a group photo. Most hold one fist in the air.

Photo by Kim Cooksey

About our funders:

The Kaiser Permanente Community Fund at Northwest Health Foundation knows that health begins in our schools, neighborhoods and workplaces – long before we ever see a doctor. That is why we invest in the skills and talents people offer to their communities, amplifying their efforts to create a vibrant, healthy and fulfilling future for everyone. The Kaiser Permanente Community Fund was established in 2004 by Kaiser Permanente and Northwest Health Foundation. Kaiser Permanente initially invested $28 million in the Fund, and the first round of grants was made in 2005. Since then, 217 total projects have been funded.

* Erickson, W., Lee, C., von Schrader, S. (2017). Disability Statistics from the American Community Survey (ACS). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Yang-Tan Institute (YTI). Retrieved from Cornell University Disability Statistics website:

** U.S. Census Bureau, 2015 American Community Survey, 1-Year Estimate, American FactFinder, Table18140; Retrieved from Annual Disability Statistics Compendium website: