Advancing Economic Justice for People with Disabilities

Asset Funders Network showcases promising strategies that can level the playing field for people with disabilities

CHICAGO, June 1, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The disability community is the largest American minority population. At least 41 million adults in the United States, almost 13 percent of the population, have some type of disability. In response, Asset Funders Network (AFN) is taking a step forward in helping level the playing field for people with disabilities by publishing a set of philanthropic recommendations for grantmakers in its report Advancing Economic Justice for People with Disabilities.

“The purpose of this report is to better equip philanthropy with investment strategies that will bring more economic equity to those living with a disability,” said Christi Baker, AFN Director of Strategic Initiatives. “A range of barriers are still in the way for many living with a disability to build wealth and advance economic mobility, and we hope to help mitigate those barriers, inclusively and justly.”

The prevalence of disability increases with age, and anyone can become disabled due to changes in life circumstances. The difficulties are compounded for people at the intersection of disability and gender, ethnicity, or race: in fact, net wealth for these houses plunges in comparison to White households with disability. Slightly more women than men have a disability. Across all races, American Indian/Alaska Native people had the highest percentage of disability, while Asian people had the lowest. People with disabilities, especially women and people of color, historically and presently, face exclusion and constraints limiting access to wealth building, asset protection, and economic mobility. Addressing the systemic barriers, discriminatory attitudes, and lack of tools people with disabilities face is a core part of an economic justice agenda.

The report, Advancing Economic Justice for People with Disabilities, in partnership with National Disability Institute, outlines the interrelated barriers to economic security and mobility for people with disabilities, the efforts needed to eliminate the systemic disadvantages for those whose disability limits their ability to work and build and protect assets, and philanthropic strategies that can grant people with a disability access to mainstream social and economic opportunity, in the workforce, or owning businesses.

To create results, grantmakers must address key barriers that limit the economic mobility of people with disability; prevent them from starting their own business; place undue financial stress when they become disabled; restrict access to key disability benefits and housing; and exclude them from technology. Grantmakers can also support efforts to change policies that create or reinforce barriers to wealth building, by providing systems and programs to foster the growth of small businesses owned by people with disabilities; creating short- and long-term disability insurance that provides comprehensive support; modifying publicly funded programs to account for disability-related expenses and allowing recipients to maintain assets; protecting home affordability; including people with disability into guaranteed income programs and asset building through the expended use of ABLE accounts.

Drawing from AFN’s proposals, grantmakers can focus support for narrative change and funding for research, advocacy, and testing of new strategies to integrate disability into their practices.

“Philanthropy plays a critical role in creating systems change that will have a lasting impact on U.S. policies that facilitate economic development and organizational practices that support individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to build wealth,” said Tom Foley, NDI Executive Director. “Our thanks to AFN for recognizing that equity and justice initiatives must include people with disabilities.”

Asset Funders Network (AFN) is the leading national grantmaker membership organization focused on advancing equitable wealth building and economic mobility. AFN brings key stakeholders together with its network of grantmakers — private, public, corporate, health, and community foundations; public-sector funders; and financial institutions — to invest in policies, programs, and financial products as tools for confronting inequity.

National Disability Institute (NDI) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building a better financial future for people with disabilities and their families. The first national organization committed exclusively to championing economic empowerment, financial education, asset development and financial stability for all persons with disabilities, NDI affects change through public education, policy development, training, technical assistance and innovative initiatives. To learn more, visit Engage with NDI on Facebook: @NationalDisability or follow NDI on Twitter: @NatDisability.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Farland

SOURCE Asset Funders Network