Nonprofit awarded $300,000 to establish self-advocacy project for people with disabilities

Community Options has been awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities to establish a Leadership Academy for Civic Engagement and Self-Advocacy.

The national nonprofit, with a New Jersey presence in Princeton, develops housing and employment for persons with disabilities. The Leadership Academy will build a new generation of self-advocacy by creating training opportunities for youths and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities has been a staple and visionary arm for the state to enhance the lives of people with disabilities through forward-thinking, state-of-the-art implementation,” said Robert Stack, CEO and president of Community Options. “This grant will enable us to train people with disabilities seeking to be civic leaders to not only improve their own lives, but also for their peers.”

Community Options will partner with communications and advocacy experts to conduct trainings. People with disabilities will lead the project from inception, by selecting training topics, developing content for presentations and managing the process of marketing and promoting the speaker’s bureau to government and business leaders.

Organizations including the New Jersey Business & Industry Association will host the speaker’s bureau to inform its member organizations on best practices to creating inclusive and supportive workplaces.

“With our very active and passionate mission of increasing opportunities for the (intellectual/developmental disability) community, NJBIA is both thrilled for Community Options that they are able to offer this program and excited to assist and facilitate this opportunity for future speakers,” NJBIA Chief of Government Affairs Chrissy Buteas said. “There is much to be done in enhancing the education, understanding and awareness of disability law and its impacts on the I/DD community and we look forward to connecting these speakers with employers who will only benefit from their insights.”