Empower Partnerships for Inclusive Communities Professional Exchange Program
Reducing barriers and forging sustainable international partnerships to promote inclusive communities.
About Empower Partnerships
The Empower Partnerships project is a prestigious, two-way international exchange program for organizations working on or interested in working on disability-related issues and inclusion as articulated in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This project aims to create sustainable organizational partnerships between U.S. and international organizations, expanding the capacity of each organization to promote disability inclusive communities, and to advance disability rights. MIUSA will select and match organizations from the U.S. and 20 other countries, and will provide ongoing technical assistance, opportunities for international exchange, small grant support to implement collaborative projects, and foster long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
The objectives of the Empower Partnerships project
- Remove barriers to community opportunities and resources;
- Support the ability of individuals and organizations to serve as leading disability advocates and promote policies and programs benefiting people with disabilities;
- Promote civil society by enabling individuals and organizations working with people with disabilities to share best practices and facilitate cross-sector cooperation through two-way professional exchanges;
- Ensure that people with diverse disabilities and their families and communities benefit from the transformational power of international exchanges; and,
- Build or expand sustainable networks of individuals and organizations serving people with disabilities.
Professional Reciprocal Exchanges
Twenty partner teams will be selected by MIUSA and each will include three organizations: one U.S. organization and two organizations from another country. Non-U.S. organizations will include one focused on disability inclusion such as a Disabled People's Organization (DPO) and one non-disability-specific institution for which disability inclusion is a priority. The 20 international partner teams will share knowledge and expertise through reciprocal exchange programs to maximize outcomes of collaborative projects and ongoing partnerships.
Review examples of partnerships and projects here.
7 days: Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A.
10 days: U.S. partner visit
3 days: Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Each international partner organization will send one representative to the U.S. to participate in a three-week professional exchange in October and November of 2013 that includes a 7-day experiential program in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A., a 10-day visit to U.S. partner organizations for project development and action planning, and a 3-day forum in Washington, D.C.
Collaborating organizations must apply together as a team, and must meet the below criteria:
- Include one Disabled People’s Organizations (DPO) or other advocacy organization, advocating for the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities, and one non-disability-specific business, non-governmental organization, government agency, educational institution, service provider, or other entity that seeks to increase inclusion and achievement of the rights of people with disabilities.
- Come from one of the 73 participating countries, including:
Africa: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda
East Asia and Pacific: Australia, Burma, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu, and Vietnam
Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Croatia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Norway, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine
Near East and North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen
South and Central Asia: Bangladesh, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan
Western Hemisphere: Argentina, Brazil, Chile , Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, and Nicaragua
- Be able to send two representatives, one from each organization, to participate in a three-week professional exchange in three U.S. cities in October and November of 2013. Representatives must be fluent in English or American Sign Language (ASL). Individuals with disabilities and/or women are strongly encouraged.
- Plan to implement a collaborative project designed to promote disability inclusive communities and disability rights.
- Be committed to host at least one representative from the U.S. partner organization for a 7 - 14 day reciprocal professional exchange and field visit.
- Be committed to maintain sustainable relationships between partner
organizations beyond the project period and produce lasting changes
toward inclusive communities.
10 days: Host international partners, U.S. cities
3 days: Forum, Washington, DC, U.S.A.
Twenty U.S. organizations will each partner with a team of two overseas partner organizations from one country to form a collaborative Empower Partnerships team. Based on the needs and interests of overseas partners, MIUSA will select and match U.S. organizations with an overseas partner team. U.S. organizations will host overseas partners for a 10-day partnership development visit, attend a 3-day forum in Washington, D.C., and send at least one representative to overseas partner countries for a 7 - 14 day field visit for collaboration and technical support.
U.S. organizations must meet the criteria below:
- Be an innovative organization committed to inclusion and rights of people with disabilities, and/or that has made services and programs accessible and inclusive of children, youth, adults, and elders with diverse disabilities.
- Be able to host an international partner team for a 10-day partnership
development visit in October of 2013, providing opportunities for exchange of experience, shared
learning, relationship building, and joint planning.
- Be able to attend a 3-day forum in Washington, D.C. in October and November of 2013.
- Be able to send at least one representative on a 7 - 14 day field visit to the overseas partner country for ongoing collaboration and support. Note: financial support from U.S. organizations for collaborative projects is not a requirement.
- Plan to implement a collaborative project designed to promote disability inclusive communities and disability rights.
- Be committed to maintain sustainable relationships between partner organizations beyond the project period and produce lasting changes toward inclusive communities.
Application documents available in alternative formats upon request.
1. Read the full project details document BEFORE applying: Project details.doc
2. Questions about this project or the application should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. For inquiries by telephone contact Jamie Rivas, Program Specialist, at +1-541-343-1284 ext. 13.
3. Download and complete the application. The application form is no longer available as the application deadline has passed.
4. Application deadline for non-U.S. and U.S. applicants has passed.
5. Submit your application to email@example.com. Please allow up to five business days to receive an email confirming that your application has been received.
6. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application in mid-April of 2013.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Disabled People’s Organization (DPO)?
A DPO is an organization that is led by people with disabilities. DPOs are representative organizations or groups of people with disabilities, where people with disabilities constitute a majority of the overall staff and board, and are well-represented in all levels of the organization. Organizations led by families and other advocates of people with disabilities, with the primary goal of empowerment and the development of self-advocacy of persons with disabilities, may also be considered as DPOs. DPOs work from an understanding of disability from a human rights or social (vs. medical) model perspective.
Why does the application require two organizations [non-U.S. applicants] to apply as a team?
Partnership between two organizations from one country outside the U.S. and one from the U.S. is an essential element of this project. Non-U.S. applicant organizations must demonstrate their commitment to work effectively together to promote disability inclusion in their country. MIUSA will match each non-U.S. partner team with a U.S. organization with similar goals and expertise that will contribute to your collaborative work.
Can more than one partnership apply and be accepted from the same country?
More than one partnership from a particular country can apply to the program. It is unlikely, but not impossible, that more than one partnership per country will be selected to participate.
Can we choose the U.S. organization we want to partner with?
You are welcome to make suggestions for a U.S. organization that you would like to partner with. However, U.S. organizations must submit an application. MIUSA will select and match U.S. partners with expertise, commitment and capacity to work collaboratively to promote disability inclusion.
Can we choose the individual who will represent our organization for the professional exchange in the U.S.?
In the application, you are asked to nominate one individual from each organization to participate in the professional exchange in the U.S. The nominated individuals must be fluent in English or American Sign Language (ASL). We strongly recommend that at least one representative nominated for each partner team is a person with a disability. For purposes of gender equity, we also strongly recommend that at least one representative be female. For practical reasons, we also suggest that you nominate a representative who has a valid passport. MIUSA and the U.S. Department of State will approve final selection of nominated representatives.
Can we choose the placement city in the U.S. for the 10-day visit with our U.S. partner organization?
Your placement city in the U.S. will be determined by the location of your U.S. partner organization. All non-U.S. partner representatives will be hosted in the U.S. city where their U.S. partner is located; therefore, you cannot choose your U.S. placement city.
Will selected organizations receive monetary compensation?
Communications (email, skype, telephone, etc.), personnel, and organizational administration costs will NOT be paid by the project. However, through Empower Partnership project activities, organizations will have unique opportunities to gain international experience, collaborate on an overseas project, and contribute to the international disability rights movement. U.S. partner organizations will NOT be expected to support costs of the collaborative overseas project. Partnership teams will have an opportunity to apply for a grant of up to $7,000 to support collaborative projects.
What is the small grant funding opportunity mentioned in the application?
MIUSA will award 15 – 20 small grants (up to $7,000 USD each) to partnership teams, to support viable partner projects that actively involve all three partner organizations and promote access and inclusion in international partner team communities.
When is the deadline to apply for a small grant?
The grant application process will be announced after the final partnership teams have been selected and matched. The deadline to apply is to be determined.
Do I have to pay for my travel, lodging, and meals during the exchange program?
All international and domestic travel, lodging, and meals during the exchange program will be paid for by the Empower Partnerships project.
Do I have to pay for a travel visa?
You do NOT have to pay for a visa. Visas for U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs are free of charge and do not require visa fees.
Will medical insurance be provided?
All program participants, U.S. and non-U.S., will receive limited health care benefits for the duration of their time abroad including travel dates. This benefit is provided by the U.S. Department of State.
Will disability-related accommodations be provided (for example: sign language interpreter, braille documents, personal assistant, etc.)?
All information, activities and services will be made accessible to people with diverse disabilities. Once representatives are selected to participate in the programs, MIUSA will work with each representative individually to arrange reasonable accommodations required for their full and equal participation. This includes but is not limited to materials in alternate formats, sign language interpreters, captioning and accessible communication systems, as well as accessible venues, facilities, lodging, and transportation. MIUSA specializes in conducting cross-disability exchange programs that offer equal access to all participants regardless of disability.
When will we be notified about our application?You can expect to receive a response to your application approximately in mid-April 2013, and to be notified of the U.S. organization selected for your partner team soon after that. Partner teams will be expected to begin collaboration immediately after acceptance to the program.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was created to promote, protect, and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities. The Empower Partnerships project will have a particularly strong impact on partner organizations in less developed countries by assisting the efforts of people with disabilities to form alliances and leverage the commitments made by their governments to the CRPD to address barriers to inclusion. Learn more about the CRPD at www.un.org/disabilities/.
The Empower Partnerships project is sponsored by the Office of Citizen Exchanges, Professional Exchanges Division, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.