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Ford Foundation Awards Major Grant to National Center on Disability and Journalism at ASU

May 9, 2018

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The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State University has received a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation to expand its mission of improving media coverage and public understanding of disability issues.

The two-year Ford Foundation grant will provide core support to the NCDJ, which is part of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. The disability organization provides resources and support for journalists and communications professionals around the globe as they cover people with disabilities and disability issues.

Foundation support will make it possible to hire a staff member to manage and expand training programs, translate a popular disability language style guide into Spanish, and develop new resources to encourage teachers of journalism to incorporate disability into their courses, said Kristin Gilger, NCDJ director and senior associate dean of the Cronkite School.

“With this grant, it is now possible to tackle a range of projects and new initiatives and really step up our efforts to improve the quality and quantity of coverage of this important constituency,” Gilger said.

Gilger pointed out that nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability of some kind, and yet people with disabilities appear in media coverage mostly as victims, charity cases or people who have somehow managed to “overcome” their disability.

“We need far more nuanced and complete coverage that portrays people with disabilities as participating members of society and that investigates the myriad institutional barriers they face that make full inclusion difficult,” she said.

The NCDJ has been part of the Cronkite School since 2008. It offers digital and on-the-ground training to journalists, communications professionals and journalism educators as well as a Disability Language Style Guide, with advice on the use of disability-related words and terms.

The NCDJ also manages the Ruderman Foundation Awards for Excellence in Reporting on Disability, an annual journalism awards contest that recognizes the best disability reporting by news organizations around the world. Recent winners have included The New York Times, ProPublica and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 80 years, it has worked on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Founded in 1936 by Edsel Ford, the foundation became the world’s largest philanthropy in the late 1940s with the bequests of Edsel and Henry Ford. Guided by Henry Ford II to become an independent institution with a global mission of advancing human welfare, the foundation has through the years made more than $45 billion in grants and improved hundreds of millions of lives.