The Unites Community Foundation, led by Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), announced its launch on January 26, 2021. The Foundation is a grant provider and partner that works collaboratively with deaf-led organizations and communities to achieve long-term, widespread impact. The CSD Unites Community Foundation  “works collaboratively with deaf-led organizations and communities to achieve long-term and widespread impact.” The Foundation “invests in community-driven initiatives that affect systemic change and create opportunities for our deaf peers.” These investments are made via the disbursement of microgrants, facilitation of capacity-building networks, and support of community mobilization efforts.  

According to the Foundation, deaf and hard-of-hearing (D/HH) non-profit and community leaders rarely have the same access to resources and funding that hearing organizations do. For instance, networking events and funder webinars may be inaccessible, funders often do not fully understand the need for specific services or approaches when interfacing with D/HH community members, and due to the small size of the D/HH population, D/HH community organizations are at a disadvantage when funders look solely at dollars-per-person impact. Led by the world’s “largest deaf-led social impact organization,” the Unites Community Foundation is well-positioned to remove these barriers. 

“Deaf organizations have applied for grants in the past, and the funders don’t really get it,” said CSD CEO Chris Soukup. “They don’t understand the unique challenges, and opportunities, and needs within the deaf community. So, there’s a separation in a sense, barring access to funding from resources who get it, that understand you, your challenges, and the work you do. That’s been missing until now. A big part of what we want to accomplish is providing that proximity to funding for organizations doing important work in our communities.”

The Unites Community Foundation is also unique in that it focuses on “capacity building efforts driven by several causes, organizations, and issues – from healthcare, to homelessness, to education – all of which disproportionately affect the D/HH community, rather than focusing on just one single issue.” The Foundation seeks to support D/HH organizations that address the various needs of marginalized communities facing injustice or oppression. 

“Because of the multiple barriers our society imposes on deaf people, our service needs are often greater and multi-layered,” said Avi Haimowitz, the Foundation’s director of development and fundraising. “Then, add in the fact that many in our deaf community are multiply-marginalized based on their intersecting identities and you come close to an understanding of how and why more time and energy is dedicated to each deaf individual within these deaf organizations.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all communities, and especially for D/HH individuals with intersectional backgrounds. To ensure these individuals and the organizations that serve them continue to thrive in spite of the pandemic, the Unites Community Foundation is accepting grant applications, along with donations to expand existing funding capacity, for its COVID-19 Resiliency Efforts now through March 4, 2021. Projects that increase accessibility, foster innovation, and promote sustainable community change are especially encouraged to apply. Organizations can request anywhere from $1,000-$10,000, depending on the scope of the project. 

Source: The Unites Community Foundation

Image: The Unites Community Foundation