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Disability advocacy comes in two forms: professional legal advocates who litigate disability rights for individuals, organizations and governments, and social advocates who work for disability rights by changing hearts and minds through social action and public policy. NYSILC works to equip individuals living with disabilities to serve as active and effective social advocates. Experience has shown us that the greatest social advocates for disability rights are those who can tell a story of independent living from the first-person perspective. Your support can help NYSILC expand the state’s cadre of first-person social advocates:




Your donations to INVEST IN INDEPENDENCE provide unrestricted gifts to bridge the funding gaps in capacity building and leadership development created by reductions in state and federal support. Critical programs supported by these unrestricted gifts include:

Capacity-Building Grants
Capacity-building grants to unserved/underserved communities fund pilot programs to help Independent Living Centers replicate successful programs that provide training and guidance to individuals with disabilities on topics like emergency preparedness; health and nutrition; making autonomous decisions regarding employment; peer counseling veterans living with disabilities; transitioning to employment for young adults; and more. These communities include indigenous peoples, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ+, young adults, seniors and veterans. Your gifts also provide resources for direct outreach and the development of effective communication networking and partnering within these populations. Read some of the “How-To” manuals developed through Capacity Building Grants. 

Leadership Development and Civic Engagement Program (LDCEP)
The Leadership Development and Civic Engagement Program (LDCEP) is an interactive online peer-based community that provides online video and podcast training, live chats, action alerts and resources on topics like advocacy, leadership development, civic engagement and life skills for New Yorkers living with disabilities. The website was suspended as funding for dedicated staff resources became unavailable. Your gifts could bring the program back to life for the 300+ individuals living with disabilities that participated during its brief one-year tenure.


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The Pat Figeuroa Scholarship Fund provides funding assistance for young adult New Yorkers with disabilities to participate in conferences, seminars and workshops focused on enhancing their advocacy skills. These scholarships help defray out-of-pocket costs arising from participation in these interactive events where attendees build their networks and develop their leadership skills. Since its inception in 2012, the fund has assisted over 70 young adults. Yet, typically the demand is greater than the funding available. Your gifts can fully equip more independent living social advocates with a first-person story to tell. Learn more about the Pat Figeuroa Scholarship Fund and view the application.

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Hall of Fam


Established in 2018, the NYS Disability Rights Hall of Fame honors individuals whose lifelong achievements have had positive impacts on the lives of people living with disabilities. In its first two years, 13 people were inducted. Another five inductees were identified for 2020 before the annual celebration was postponed due to travel and gathering restrictions occasioned by the coronavirus global pandemic. Rescheduled for May 6, 2021, we look forward to welcoming the new class of inductees. In addition to attending the celebration, supporters may serve as members of the Honorary Committee, sponsors, advertisers or auction item providers. Proceeds raised above the costs for the event fund NYSILC special projects, including a planned traveling exhibit of Hall of Fame inductees to be displayed during advocacy and education events around the state. Learn more about NYSILC's Disability Rights Hall of Fame.


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