A Look at the Coleman Foundation’s Developmental Disabilities Program

The Chicago-based Coleman Foundation has maintained the same three grantmaking focus areas since 1981: entrepreneurship education, cancer care, developmental disabilities. Coleman’s developmental disabilities focus is unique because the foundation serves as a catalyst between organizations that serve people with developmental disabilities, including its eleven-agency network, Intersect for Ability. Here’s what Chicago area nonprofits need to know about this Coleman grant program.

Pitch Your Pilot Program Here

Like many foundations, Coleman gravitates to practical, financially sustainable, and results-oriented nonprofit programs. However, it isn’t scared away by pilot programs that are previously untested. For the second quarter of 2014, the Coleman Foundation awarded four grants totaling $419,500 for residential and vocational pilot programs, and each of these grants was between $47,500 and $177,000. Pitch a pilot program that helps people with disabilities be independent and find employment in safe and satisfying conditions.

Supportive Employment Programs are Top Priority

Although the Coleman Foundation has historically supported housing, life skills, and supportive employment programs, vocational training and support has been the primary focus in recent grantmaking cycles. Foundation funding is designed to enable grantees who serve challenged individuals to discern their vocational and residential goals and facilitate the efforts to achieve them.

With the guidance of the Coleman Foundation, the eleven-agency Intersect for Ability has worked together to create professional development programs for staff, aid transitions between life stages, and expand employment opportunities for disabled individuals. One recent grant, for Have Dreams Academy, supported autism-specific workplace training for high school graduates and young adults.

“As a funder of programs in disabilities as well as entrepreneurship education, we see great potential in the collaboration between Have Dreams, ILOVESWEETS Bakery and their Kellogg School of Management intern to discover, document and articulate the profit-driving reasons for employing individuals with ASD in manufacturing settings," said Clark McCain, Senior Program Officer at The Coleman Foundation.

Coleman Prefers Chicago and the Suburbs

Each of the Coleman second quarter grants went to disabilities-focused organizations in the Chicago suburbs. Unlike Coleman’s entrepreneurship education program, which has traditionally drawn both local and national support, the developmental disabilities program is very Chicago-centric.

Related: The Coleman Foundation: Chicago Grants

To learn more about this inspiring local program, check out the developmental difficulties section on the Coleman Foundation website or send an email to info@colemanfoundation.org