2020 Grants Challenge

Connect LA Families!

Connect LA Families will give children with disabilities and their families, a historically vulnerable population, access to the vital social/emotional benefits of community connection. Your investment will provide inclusion grants to 5 community-based organizations in low-income LA neighborhoods who will implement inclusion programming at their local inclusive playgrounds. Inclusion Matters will provide training, online resources, and deliver our education program to surrounding schools, thus deepening their social inclusion network.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA

LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

We are in the process of identifying 5 community organizations in under-served areas to receive community grants via the Inclusive Communities Grant Program. Our confirmed partner is Los Angeles Unified School District's Division of Special Education.

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

We have a 20-year track record of building strong partners that support social inclusion for Los Angeles’ diverse communities. Mike Shull, General Manager of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, has been a powerful partner, helping to support the development of inclusive playgrounds since 1998. LAUSD has partnered with our education program since 2002, connecting us to more than 250 schools. Organizations such as Best Start, First 5 LA, regional centers, Exceptional Children’s Foundation, Head Start, CHLA, and many more have connected families to both gather input into the design of the playgrounds and participate in our programs. We will utilize these existing partnerships to identify sustainable grantees for Connect Families LA to scale up inclusion for our families.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Children with disabilities frequently face isolation both in their communities and schools. In one study on young adults with Autism, 1 in 4 who participated had absolutely no peer contact in a 12-month period. In a school setting, children with disabilities are 60% more likely to be involved in bullying. This lack of social interaction, which provides critical developmental benefits, and continued negative peer experiences can impact lives well into adulthood. One study found that 85% of the adults with disabilities who reported losing their jobs did so due to a lack of social skills. There are almost 65,000 children with disabilities in LAUSD. We are a diverse city, and now more than ever, the most vulnerable families need to connect in a truly inclusive and meaningful way. Connect LA Families will level the playing field by empowering community organizations to create compassionate connections in their neighborhoods.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

At Inclusion Matters by Shane’s Inspiration, we believe our communities are stronger when we play together! For over 20 years, we have been helping Los Angeles neighborhoods create inclusive community play spaces. There are 42 open in Los Angeles County. In 2002, we began two social inclusion programs that activate these community spaces because we realized families were not utilizing them due to the social/emotional bias their children experienced in public…stares, rude comments, questions, and peers excluding them. Overcoming this barrier required an intentional structure that supported our families socially and emotionally. My PlayClub, our successful and proven family program, provides a powerful social network for families of all abilities through fully integrated play events and online resources. Our education program extends that connection into those children’s schools, educating their teachers and peers on how to facilitate social inclusion on their campuses.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 150

Indirect Impact: 2,657

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Most of the children served by Connect Families LA will be between the ages of 1 and 13 and come from a variety of socio-economic circumstances. The children we work with have a wide range of conditions, which include Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fragile Bone Disease, Rhetts Syndrome, Visual Impairment, Deafness, and many others. Many of our children have multiple disabilities, which result in both physical and mental impairments, and most of the students that participate in our programs are classified as having moderate to severe disabilities. Of the children we work with, 80% of them attend Title 1, which is an indicator of poverty.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

We are scaling up My PlayClub, which has been a social lifeline for thousands of families since we began delivering it, in communities throughout Los Angeles by partnering with 5 non-profit organizations (grantee) in low-income, diverse communities to replicate the program. Each will receive:

-A $5,000 inclusion grant to implement the program,

- Staff, parent, and volunteer social inclusion training both in-person and online,

-Together, We Are Able implementation by our staff in their local schools,

- Sustainability planning support in the areas of fundraising, events, and social media messaging/outreach for families with disabilities.

Success will be defined as:

* A minimum of 8 inclusive play events held by the grantees at 5 identified inclusive playgrounds over the grant period (40 total)

* A community inclusion review at each grantee’s organization and gaps in inclusion identified for families of children with disabilities

* A social inclusion social media plan developed and implemented by each grantee

* A minimum of 2 social inclusion trainings with each grantee (10 total)

* A minimum of 3 additional inclusion partnerships developed by each grantee in their community to support ongoing inclusion (15 new partnerships total)

All families will receive surveys post events to refine and improve community connection services and events. We will hold monthly meetings with our partner organizations to assess progress, and two written financial/program reports will be provided by each grant recipient.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

Disability access and inclusion

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Capacity, including staff

Strategy assistance and implementation