Integrate for Good empowers students and adults of all abilities through inclusive volunteerism, community leadership, and meaningful employment.
From a very early age, individuals with disabilities are called “special,” and quickly become the recipients of assistance. Those living with disabilities, and just as importantly the larger community are presented with an understanding of people with disabilities as recipients of service from others, not as capable providers. Talents go untapped, and our economy misses out on valuable contributions.
Integrate for Good challenges all of us to look through a different lens, embracing a strength-based perspective which accepts disability as a natural part of the human experience, not as something special and stigmatizing.
Integrate for Good’s mission is to challenge that stigma, providing equitable opportunity for students and adults of all abilities to share their talent through inclusive volunteerism, community leadership and meaningful employment.
IFG started as a project under the Access Services umbrella, and became its own 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation in 2019. Integrate for Good is uniquely community-based, without a brick and mortar location. Instead, you will find IFG programming happening in schools, colleges, corporations, senior centers, libraries, and other institutions all over the county and surrounding area. Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Bev Weinberg, drew inspiration to develop Integrate for Good after working closely with students with disabilities for more than 25 years in local school districts. She saw a need for a strengths-based approach to capture untapped talent.
Integrate for Good operates four innovative programs: Empowerment Lab, Opening Doors on Campus, Leadership Incubator and Corporate Engagement. Empowerment Lab, in partnership with local school district, engages students in exploring and identifying their talents, interests, environmental work preferences and passions, cumulating in the creation of a digital portfolio highlighting the ability in their disability
Through Opening Doors on Campus, Integrate for Good partners with local colleges and universities to make a meaningful place for people of all abilities to engage on campus through inclusive volunteerism and leadership opportunities. Popular activities which give back to the community include the Sleeping Mat Project and Kindness Rocks. Leadership Incubator empowers people with disabilities to facilitate our Corporate Engagement initiatives.
“We believe that people with disabilities should be out where everybody else is,” Weinberg said. “We have this talent that’s not being captured and an economy that needs it.”
Integrate for Good brings people of all abilities together to engage and connect. Dr. Weinberg shares, “You can’t change someone else’s mind for them. People change their perception around disability when they have the opportunity to work alongside people of different abilities. That is how stigma is reduced, one experience at a time. We bring people together to make that happen.”
Integrate for Good is committed to employing a diverse staff. One of Integrate For Good’s outstanding team members is Heather Michaelson. Heather, who lives with Down syndrome, hosts a weekly Facebook Live show called “Hangin’ With Heather”, where she interviews local business leaders, politicians, and community members. She also contributes to different areas of operations as a corporate event leader and project instructor. Heather, who has considerable volunteer experience and talent, is now receiving competitive pay after more than four decades without a paycheck. Integrate for Good believes people of all abilities deserve to be paid competitively.
Integrate for Good achieves its mission through donations from individuals, companies and foundations. They currently have a waiting list for their services. Support from the community would empower more students with disabilities to discover their talent and share it with the community through volunteerism and employment.
“The need to be included and valued is not a special need. It’s a human one,” Weinberg says. “We don’t need to think outside the box to make sure people with disabilities aren’t sidelined from the rich opportunities our community has to offer. We just need to look inside our circle and make it a little wider.” The resources we need are here.
To learn more about Integrate for Good organization or make a donation, please visit their website.