The Arc Awarded Comcast NBCUniversal Grant for Special Education Initiative

Aisha I Abdullah PhD avatar

by Aisha I Abdullah PhD |

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A $200,000 Comcast NBCUniversal grant has been awarded to The Arc to increase access to educational resources for students of color and economically disadvantaged youngsters with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), which can include Dravet syndrome.

The award will fund the organization’s community-based The [email protected] initiative to expand its resources for students, families, educators, and advocates navigating the special education system. The resources are designed to support students with disabilities and their families, particularly those who have been impacted by the restrictions and safety measures in place at public schools in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for Comcast NBCUniversal’s support of our education advocacy, particularly as the pandemic has created so much upheaval in education,” Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc, said in a press release.

“Now more than ever, families need help to understand their rights in the classroom–whether that classroom is in person or virtual,” Berns said.

The [email protected] provides an online advocacy curriculum, education around the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and a directory of resources to supports students with IDD. The goal is to ensure that these students receive the supports and services they need in school.

The Comcast NBCUniversal grant will allow The [email protected] to provide 250 families around the U.S. one year of free access to its special education advocacy curriculum, focusing especially on families of color and low-income families.

“Students of color with disabilities are traditionally overlooked when seeking the right special education for themselves,” said Dalila Wilson-Scott, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast. “We believe creating tools for families to advocate for special education services is such an important step toward a more equitable future.”

In addition, the initiative will launch a new section on its website to feature a special education “Know Your Rights” resources in Spanish. It plans to develop a facilitation guide and provide support to the more than 600 nationwide chapters of The Arc and other parent advocacy groups to use potential online curriculum more effectively.

Disorders that cause IDD affect around one in six children in the U.S, and students receiving special education services account for around 7.1 million, or 14%, of all public school students.

Founded by parents of children with IDDs, The Arc has been dedicated since the 1950s to promote and protect “promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities” and to actively support “their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes,” the organization states on its website.