Skip to main content

Advocates in Disability Award

The Advocates in Disability Award program annually honors a young adult with a disability between the ages of 14 and 26 who is dedicated to positively affecting the lives of people with disabilities and their families in the United States. The program also supports an innovative project developed by the award recipient that benefits the U.S. disability community.

The selected recipient is awarded $3,000 in recognition of past disability advocacy and will receive up to $7,000 in additional funding for a proposed project to benefit the disability community. Read more about our past recipients.

The Advocates with Disabilities is a joint program of The HSC Foundation and the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation.

Important Dates

  • Application Open: February 10, 2016
  • Information Calls: March 16 & March 30, 2016
  • Application Deadline: April 20, 2016
  • Semi-Finalist Interviews: May 11 & May 12, 2016
  • Notification: May 13, 2016
  • Briefing Reception: June 9, 2016

Award Eligibility

The ADA program recognizes young adults who are advocates through their deep belief and commitment to the inclusion and empowerment of all people with disabilities.

Qualified applicants must be:

  • Between 14 and 26 years of age.
  • A person with a disability.
  • A U.S. citizen or permanent resident at the time of the application submission and recipient selection.
  • Be an advocate for disabilities. This person does not have to be a “professional” advocate, but should be effectively working to make a difference. Examples include:
    • a student who is advocating for equal access to quality education
    • a young professional educating an employer about workplace accommodations
    • a young person advocating for better policies for people with disabilities.
  • Able to attend the Advocates in Disability Award reception held in June in Washington, DC. Note: Travel and lodging will be covered if the awardee does not live in the Washington, DC area (along with a personal care attendant if needed for physical assistance).

We encourage previous applicants to apply, including semi-finalists. However, previous award recipients are not eligible.

Project Criteria

These guidelines will help you as you describe your project. It may also help you to read about past recipients and their projects.

  • The proposed project must be led and executed by you, the applicant.
  • The project may involve a partnership with an organization. You must still lead the project. Projects that involve partnerships with employers are discouraged.
  • Projects that focus on serving and empowering people with disabilities are given preference.
  • Projects that have defined and measurable outcomes are given preference.

How to Apply

The online application for 2016 is now closed. We encourage you to check back in early 2017.

Information Calls To Learn More

We sponsor two phone calls in the spring to give you more information about the award. On the calls, we explain the award in detail and give you the opportunity to ask questions about the program and the application process.

Essays

You will be asked to respond to two questions in the application:

  • Describe yourself and the current (or previous) work you are doing that impacts the lives of people with disabilities. If you are a paid advocate, your essay should discuss your unpaid work or work you are doing above and beyond your paid position. (500 words or less)

  • Describe the project you would develop (or expand) and implement with up to $7,000 in funding. The project should serve and empower people with disabilities. (600 words or less)

Letters of Reference

Letters should be from people familiar with your work and should:  

  • Discuss your current or past work that impacts the lives of people with disabilities.
  • Discuss your ability to carry out the proposed project.

Partnership Letter

If your project involves a partnership with an organization, your applicant must include:

  • A letter from the partner stating that it is aware of your proposed project and the Advocates in Disability Award and prepared to work with you if you are selected to receive the award.

Semi-Finalists Phone Interview

We will hold phone interviews with the semi-finalists. During the interview, you’ll be asked to answer questions about yourself and the proposed project. We also will ask you to provide a projected budget.