Hollywood, Harvard and the Special Olympics to Join the Jewish Community to ADVANCE Inclusion of People with Disabilities

By Jay Ruderman

Academy Award-winning actress and champion of people with disabilities Marlee Matlin. Special Olympics CEO Timothy Shriver. Harvard Law School Project on Disability Executive Director Michael Stein. These three powerful speakers will add their voices to the call for inclusion and a better life for all at this year’s ADVANCE Conference on Dec. 6 in New York City.

We’re sponsoring the second annual ADVANCE Ruderman Jewish Special Needs Funding Conference in partnership with leading international Jewish organizations. Like last year’s sold-out event. ADVANCE 2011 will bring together leaders from the world of philanthropy to explore creative new approaches to fostering inclusion in the Jewish community and improving the lives of those with disabilities.

This very special day is an open invitation to funders from across the Jewish community to nurture collaboration and creativity in developing new ways to help those with disabilities in our community achieve full independence. As disability services face unprecedented cuts in public funding, philanthropy alone cannot fill the gap, but we can be the incubator for ideas that will lead to better and more effective services.

ADVANCE is a project of the Ruderman Family Foundation and the Jewish Funders Network (JFN), and is co-sponsored by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (known as “The Joint” or JDC), Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) of Greater Boston, and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).

In addition to inspiring keynote presentations, we’re looking forward to hands-on workshops featuring such top leaders in disability issues and policy as Alexis Kashar, President of the Jewish Deaf Resource Council, and Steve Eidelman, H. Rodney Sharp Professor of Human Services Policy and Leadership at the University of Delaware.

 As Andres Spokoiny, President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network, puts it:  “This conference marks the continuation of a collaboration that has made an improvement in the lives of people with disabilities … At a time when charitable giving is under great pressure and government services can’t be relied upon to meet the need, it is vitally important for funders and organizations committed to and passionate about the goal of inclusion to come together and collaborate on a strategy that can maximize our collective impact.”

 ADVANCE 2011: The Ruderman Jewish Special Needs Conference takes place on December 6 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Baruch College Conference Center in New York City. Attendance is open to organizations donating a minimum of $25,000 annually or $10,000 to disability-related programs and is capped at 100.  Click here to register online and learn more about the Conference.

— Jay Ruderman


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