Most people in churches want to include people with disabilities in the life and ministry of the congregation. Most people understand that the Bible gives clear reasons for full inclusion of all people in the life of a congregation.
But making changes of buildings, programs, and attitudes requires a cost.
For building improvements, there are two foundations of which we are aware that will give accessibility grants to churches in specific regions:
Ontario: The Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the government of Ontario, distributes its funding to charities and not-for-profits in four sectors: Arts and Culture, Environment, Sports and Recreation, and Human and Social Services. A number of churches have received funding for accessibility improvements. Be advised that the Foundation receives its funding through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Your church will want to consider carefully the wisdom of accepting money that is gained this way. If your church chose to accept or not accept money from the Trillium Foundation, we'd love to hear about it. Please comment.
Chicagoland: The Retirement Research Foundation provides the Accessible Faith Grant. This program enables houses of worship in Lake, Cook and DuPage counties to make accessibility improvements to their facilities. Since the program began seven years ago, the Foundation has awarded 102 grants to religious congregations, totaling almost $2.2 million, to make their facilities more accessible. For more information, go to www.rrf.org and click on "For Grant Applicants" or call Naomi Stanhaus at 773-714-8080.
United States: Christian Fund for the Disabled from Joni and Friends provides one-time grants to qualifying individuals in cooperation with (i.e., endorsement by) churches or Christian organizations. Requests must reflect a disability-related need. Grants are also available to evangelical churches and organizations that need help to effectively minister to those affected by disability, or that wish to start or expand disability ministry or make their facilities more accessible.
Canada: The Workplace Accessibility Stream of the Enabling Accessibility Fund provides funding to eligible recipients for projects that improve accessibility in workplaces (for-profit and not-for-profit) across Canada. Projects may include: renovating, retrofitting or constructing workplaces in which job opportunities for people with disabilities could be created or maintained; retrofitting motor vehicles for work use ; and, providing information and communications technologies for work use. To be considered eligible for funding, projects must be directly related to maintaining or creating job opportunities for people with disabilities. All projects must also respond to funding priorities identified during calls for proposals, including support from their community.
If you know of other organizations that provide grant money to make churches accessible, please let us know.