Disabilities Fund

Disabilities Fund logo

Advancing Inclusion of People with Disabilities

The Disabilities Fund of The Chicago Community Trust promotes the development of programs, policy and public action that expands the empowerment, equal opportunity, inclusion and participation of diverse persons with disabilities in the Chicago region. The Fund partners with and advises The Chicago Community Trust about disability inclusion and priorities for data-driven actionable solutions in the areas of employment, education, community inclusion and technology.

The Disabilities Fund was established thanks to the generosity of Shawn Donnelley and the Naomi Williams Donnelley Fund.

Advisory Board Members

  • Jack Catlin, FAIA, LCM Architects, Co-Chair
  • Karen Tamley, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Co-Chair
  • Zully Alvarado, Causes for Change
  • Adam Ballard, Access Living
  • Jackie Burgess-Bishop, Cook County Health & Hospitals System
  • Deborah Grisko, Almost Home Kids
  • Suzanne Kenney
  • Kathy Lavin, Lekotek
  • Tuyet Le, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
  • Nancy Nauheimer, Northern Trust
  • Dorelia Rivera, Horizon
  • Kathy Ryg, Former State Representative
  • Gerald Skoning, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
  • Erin Smith, OCC
  • Sidney Smith, Shire


LEAD Conference Scholarship

The Disabilities Fund is accepting applications from organizations to fund staff members’ attendance of the Kennedy Center’s premier Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability (LEAD) Conference in Austin, TX in August 2017. The LEAD Conference brings together and helps build an international network of professionals looking to implement accessibility in cultural environments.

All nonprofit cultural organizations in the Chicago region are eligible to apply and should strongly consider attending LEAD to better access for the region. Preference will be given to grant applicants with the greatest demonstrated funding needs and to applicants who anticipate the greatest positive impact as a direct result of receiving a grant for their visitors with disabilities.

To apply, please complete the application form no later than Monday, July 17, 2017. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until funds run out or until the deadline. For assistance, please contact Risa Jaz Rifkind at 312.616.8000 or rrifkind@cct.org.


Recent Work

ADA 25 Chicago

ADA 25 Chicago was a year-long initiative celebrating and leveraging the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015. As the leader supporter, the Chicago Community Trust has continued its legacies with ADA 25 Advancing Leadership and other programs. To learn more about ADA 25 Chicago, please visit the archived website.


Renewing the Commitment Guide

The Renewing the Commitment Guide is for nonprofits to review and evaluate their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The guide provides general guidelines as well a tip sheets and interactive evaluations.

ADA Compliance Guide, PDF Format

Guide summary, PDF format

This guide was originally created in 2010 at the 20th anniversary of the ADA, and has been updated with current information for 2015.


Quest for Equality: Breaking the Barriers for People with Disabilities

The 2010 white paper identifies three areas with the most opportunities since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act for full inclusion of people with disabilities; education, employment, and community living. The paper outlines goals within each area, all of which are still applicable seven years later.

Read and share the white paper (PDF format)


Contact Us
Risa Jaz Rifkind