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The Inclusion Academy

For parents (and allies) of children 2 to 5 to promote inclusive learning and disability equity

"They aren't ready for us" is something we hear often from parents. This opportunity is about changing that. The Inclusion Academy takes cohorts through a series of classes to learn about inclusive early learning and disability equity, and then supports participants as they apply their learning through community projects and advocacy opportunities.

OUR GOAL: Give community members the information they need to support and advocate for young children AND a structure to practice and pursue disability activism.

OUR PHILOSOPHY: Disability is a type of diversity, and whether children with disabilities or developmental delay reach their potential is linked to how society responds to and nurtures them. So let's make sure society prioritizes belonging and equity.

The Inclusion Academy is grounded in the science of early childhood development and the legal and research basis for inclusive learning. It is a Best Starts for Kids Innovation Fund pilot and 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; your child's rights; early learning options; defining quality; Universal Design for Learning and inclusive practices; how change happens; and more! 

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

TIME COMMITMENT: Six to nine months. The first three to four months are focused on weekly learning. After that depends on how you want to apply your learning.

Contact Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Advocacy, for information.

  • Cohort 1 – launched Fall 2019
  • Cohort 2 – launched Spring 2020
  • Cohort 3 – launched Fall 2020
  • Cohort 4 – launched Spring 2021
  • Cohort 5 – launched Summer 2022

INCLUSION ACADEMY NETWORK: Cohort participants, to access recordings, handouts, discussions, and more please visit our private class website.


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."