Photo by Andrea Lonas

Reject Economic Ableist Limits

Applications for our 2019-2020 Disability Culture and Justice Leadership Institute are due September 18!

Leadership Institute Application 2019

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 opportunities 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. Previous 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: