Skip to main content

The Inclusion Academy

  • This overview covers basics that all parents should be aware of and was pulled from course materials.

  • This year, we have organized the academy into 3 sequences. You can apply for 1 or all 3.
    Sequence 1. Accessibility & Belonging in Public Education. (Preschool & K-12).
    Sequence 2. Unpacking Disability.
    Sequence 3. Disuption

Shift systems. Promote equity. Create Opportunity

"They aren't ready for us" is something we hear often. If you are part of the disability community, then you know access to education, child care, recreation, employment, and health care aren't a given. Whether folks with disabilities and their families thrive depends on how accessible and inclusive their community is.

This opportunity is about embedding the concepts of inclusion, membership, and belonging into public systems - like our schools. The Inclusion Academy takes cohorts through a series of classes to learn about:

  • The connection between inclusion and well-being
  • Barriers in schools and other systems
  • Disability history, ableism, and justice
  • Disability rights
  • Shifting systems through civic engagement

OUR GOAL: Belonging, membership, and participation for all. We are working to give folks with disabilities, their families, and allies information they need to advocate for inclusive learning and other public programs, as well as a structure to practice and pursue disability activism.

OUR PHILOSOPHY: Disability is a type of diversity, and whether folks with disabilities thrive depends on how accessible and inclusive their community is, and how well society nurtures children with disabilities. We work to ensure all people experience belonging and that folks understand the connection between inclusion and well-being.

The Inclusion Academy is grounded in the science of childhood development and the legal and research basis for inclusive learning. It was piloted as part of the Best Starts for Kids Innovation Fund and was a portfolio project of Frontiers of Innovation, the research and development arm of Harvard's Center on the Developing Child

CLASS TOPICS: The developing brain and what children need to thrive; disability is diversity; the case for inclusion; disability rights; inclusive practices and universal desig ; how change happens; and more! 

ADVOCACY SKILLS: Listening, analysis, messaging; vision planning; policy development; data mining; collaboration; and community building.

Contact Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Public Policy an Civic Engagement for information.


What would you tell families?
"Every special needs parent has their own story and in some way their trauma. Every choice has a consequence. Your actions can change the life of future generations."

Graduates include parents, educators, family support professionals, social workers, and advocates. Several have since changed professions to work directly with children and families, others have joined boards, or volunteered in a leadership capacity. Several focus support on immigrant families, who require language access as well as grounding in our school system, state agencies, and their child's rights.

"The Inclusion Academy taught me about laws, history, rights about inclusion that I have never learned before. I gave me a sense of empowerment to lean on for the work I do with families. Through this academy, your support, and connection with cohort participants I was able to help one my families secure 80% inclusion in a gen ed classroom for 1st grade! He had been in kindergarten with only 30 minutes inclusion a day. It has been incredible."

"It has been a wild ride transitioning. As it turns out, Denmark is behind the US in terms of inclusion. It required me to advocate intensively for my child to have access to mainstream education here, which has motivated me to become the next chair of the board of his school, with the aim to improve many policies and governance structures for all kids. So, lots of applications of what I learned through The Inclusion Academy."

"I think The Inclusion Academy was my first and biggest step in the advocacy world. Following my dream to help parents who struggle, I have since attended the Parent Institute of Engagement, the Washington State Parent Ambassadors program, and IEP Parent Partners program. When you are an immigrant parent fighting for your child's diagnosis, services and opportunity to have better life, inclusion is your life choice."