FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 22, 2021
The Ford Foundation has recently recognized ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) as one of the first recipients of their new Disability Rights Program that centers disability justice as part of their on-going diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Representing a broad spectrum of marginalized identities, with the Ford Foundation’s investment, ECNV will help build the next generation of intersectional disability leaders, to advance rights, access, and opportunities for people with disabilities.
Located near the upcoming Amazon HQ2 headquarters, ECNV is opening its new Disability Justice Interdependent Living Lab, to serve the nearby communities of Virginia Tech, George Mason, and others in the National Landing area of Arlington. This lab will function as an inclusive and cooperative communal space to develop and advocate for new ways to live interdependently. Further, alongside partners like Multicultural Families, a newly funded grassroots accelerator program will offer support for office space, funding, 501(c)(3) nonprofit support, and trainings to build stronger organizations serving people with disabilities in marginalized communities.
The key focus of this initiative is going to both expanding and energizing the field of disability coalitions, “building the next generation of disability advocates” said Rebecca Cokley, Program Officer at the Ford Foundation. As part of that mission, we at ECNV are proud to introduce our new Agents of Change Fellows and our non-profit Accelerator program for 2021 that will be leading the charge in creating a shift from disability rights to disability justice in Northern Virginia and beyond.
Marcos Castillo (he/him) is a Chicano Disability Rights Advocate who grew up on the border in Yuma, Arizona and a board member of The Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association and Peer Mentor for the Christopher Reeves Foundation.
Laura Halvorson (she/her) is an activist and in 2017 was arrested several times protesting the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, fighting against state and federal attempts to weaken the Americans with Disabilities Act. ECNV recognized her with the Community Integration Leadership (CIL) Award for Outstanding Achievement in Advocacy in 2019.
D'Arcee Charington Neal (he/they) is an award-winning professional storyteller, and third year doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University in English and Disability Studies where he focuses on the intersections of black digital media and disability erasure within Afrofuturism. D’Arcee is the 2017 recipient of the Tony Coelho NBC/Universal Digital Media Scholarship and winner of Best English Graduate Research at Ohio State University for 2020.
Josh Wilson (he/him) has been a disability advocate in Virginia for over 20 years and has a degree in information technology which is his passion and living life to the fullest in his community with the help from home and community-based services.
The Disability Nonprofit Accelerator Initiative works with grassroots efforts in our community supporting disabled people by offering opportunities for office space, funding, 501(c)(3) support, and trainings. One of our 2021 partners is Multicultural Families.
Rosalia Fajardo (she/her) is a lawyer from Colombia and Director of Multicultural Families a non-profit focusing on Latinx people with disabilities of all ages to ensure that all have access to a great education and successful life, through family, school, community, and business partnerships.
According to Jill Jacobs, ECNV Executive Director, “The Independent living creed 'Nothing About Us Without Us' has not included all of us. We have ostracized Black and Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQIA+,TGNC and people with Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, leaving them in our margins. We want to acknowledge our truths and allow this moment in history to act as the catalyst in our work and to help us figure out how to Free Our People. All our people.”
The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV) is a Center for Independent Living (CIL). Founded in 1982, we are a community-based non-profit agency run by people with disabilities. With our geographic proximity to the nation's capital, ECNV’s advocacy is instrumental not only in local and state legislative efforts, but also federally. We hope to aid in enacting radical change in our communities and overall independent living (IL) movement towards disability justice.