In the past, The League has primarily focused on helping individuals with the barriers in the community that they face in their everyday lives.
The Inclusion Institute is focused on working from the outside in—advocating for systemic change, which leads to change in communities and a positive impact on individuals.
People with disabilities influence laws and policies.
People with disabilities engaged in their communities.
People with disabilities prepared to be leaders of their own change.
A dedicated team
While The League has touched on addressing systemic issues in the past, the Inclusion Institute will have a team of people devoted solely to affecting system-level change.
Impact beyond The League
The Inclusion Institute provides a framework that can be replicated for numerous issues by any disability service providers across the region.
The Inclusion Institute is flipping the script on what you and I believe about disabilities.
Training and empowering leaders in disability advocacy
The Leadership Academy is a program within The Inclusion Institute that provides leadership training through an 8-module curriculum designed by and for people with disabilities.
The hybrid of in-person and virtual courses will equip graduates with a greater understanding of disability rights, history, and advocacy so they can use their voice to effect change in leadership positions on boards, commissions, committees, and councils.
What counties will The Inclusion Institute serve?
We currently serve Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells, and Whitley counties, although many of our services and programs serve other counties. However, our hope is that The Inclusion Institute will have an impact across the entire region by providing a template for other disability service providers to follow.
How is this different from the services you already provide?
The current service delivery model at The League focuses on individual services/advocacy, leaving systems advocacy/community change as only a small part of many people’s jobs. As a result, and rightfully so, the needs of the individual consumers we serve always take priority over systems advocacy and community change.
The Inclusion Institute will allow a true focus on systems advocacy and community change. A dedicated team will have the ability to focus on systems advocacy and community change through awareness, education, and advocacy. As issues and barriers to inclusion and equity are identified, there will be intentional focus on researching the issue, mapping out the strategy and tactics needed to affect change, and implementing those plans in a targeted manner.
How will it work?
The Inclusion Institute will train and engage people with disabilities (PWD) and allies on topics such as disability rights, laws and issues, advocacy, negotiation techniques, Universal Design concepts, working with policy and administrative leaders, serving on boards, commissions, and councils, and more.
Once trained, these individuals will be provided opportunities to increase their social equity by becoming engaged in community change projects, as well as being involved on boards, commissions, councils, and even political offices.
The team and trained advocates will conduct awareness activities that heighten community education on disability issues. They’ll also build and maintain strategic relationships with councils/authorities and key community leaders in such areas as government, legislative, housing, transportation, and employment.
This approach creates an expanding pool of voices and stakeholders to continue the pursuits of inclusion and equity for all members of our community, allowing us to address multiple issues/barriers to inclusion simultaneously and more quickly.
What is the ultimate goal of The Inclusion Institute?
We want to see true transformational impact at all levels of our community, ensuring its societal structures are engaging, fully inclusive, and equitable for all people with disabilities. Not only will we see changes in policy and legislation, but we will also see change in practice and implementation. PWD will be involved in decision making at all levels of our community. We will see improvements in the largest barriers/issue areas people with disabilities face. We will see availability of more affordable accessible housing, increased employment opportunities, and expanded transportation options.
Ultimately, we want Fort Wayne and Northeast Indiana to become models for inclusion and equity for PWD.