Human Services

The Initiative

Abuse Free Culture for All

aka Domestic Violence Initiative for Women with Disabilities   |   Denver, CO   |  www.theinitiativecolorado.org

Mission

Advocacy for persons with disabilities who have experienced abuse

Ruling year info

1989

executive director

Ms Ashlee Lewis

Main address

6825 E. Tennessee Suite #475

Denver, CO 80224 USA

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Formerly known as

Domestic Violence Initiative for Women with Disabilities

EIN

84-1068953

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (P01)

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

Services to Promote the Independence of Specific Populations (P80)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

People with disabilities constitute the single largest underserved population in the U.S. Across the nation, people with disabilities are statistically and systemically more vulnerable to abuse. Crime indexes around disability find that "perpetrators are motivated by a desire to obtain control over the victim and measure their potential prey for vulnerabilities." Reports also suggest that abuse against a person with disabilities is more intense and longer-lasting. The reports that people with disabilities are 40% to 90% more likely to become victims of abuse than able-bodied individuals. 96% of survivors that The Initiative serves have multiple disabilities; it is not uncommon for a client who has cancer, fibromyalgia, bipolar, and possible PTSD and brain injury. In 2018, The Initiative’s 372 clients reported experiencing 1,679 different disabilities. The Initiative has historically specialized in domestic violence and women with disabilities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Direct Service

The Initiative is a statewide organization providing free and confidential advocacy that honors all forms of abuse and all forms of disability (cognitive, mental-health, physical-mobility, health-related, and sensory). The Initiative serves 350-400 primary individuals to families per year. The Direct Services program provides person-centered, disability-oriented, victim-survivor advocacy grounded in the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Victim Rights Act. Advocates at The Initiative respect each client’s right to self-determination and provide appropriate and necessary services in order to best meet each unique individual’s needs of safety. The Initiative provides comprehensive, creative, and collaborative services in order to address their complex goals and objectives. The Initiative clients averaged 7 services per family, and all The Initiative focuses its services to have multigenerational effects, as the majority of clients are mothers with children. These services primarily fall within 4 categories: safety, self-sufficiency, criminal justice support, and recovery and healing. Further, these services are rooted in accessible, culturally-responsive, and trauma-informed approaches to advocacy. All services are mobile and dynamic, and all services are available to monolingual Spanish speakers and victims in rural areas. Additionally, office culture, language usage, and core values and beliefs at The Initiative are LGBTQ+ inclusive.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Victims and oppressed people
Budget
$425,000

The Initiative’s Outreach project’s goal is to conduct free community awareness education to ensure that the community serving/interacting with survivors with disabilities are aware of the unique needs of this community. For marginalized community members, accessibility can mean life and death, the Outreach goal to ensure that domestic violence and disability advocacy organization services and the criminal justice systems to be accessible. The focus for this program is to create a cultural and systemic shift or improvement by removing the stigma that exists around marginalized abuse survivors, as these stigmas erect those very barriers to access to services, safety, and self-sufficiency. The Initiative will be able to broaden its mission to encompass a much larger area of Colorado to ensure that victims with disabilities state-wide have equal access to services, and to ensure that their Victims’ Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act rights are protected and that the survivors are treated with dignity. A safety net of collaboration, in place with accessible, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed values and approach to advocacy, within the community will have an immediate impact on improving the lives of these survivors and their children. In 2019, The Initiative has expanded the outreach program to include training to support the service providers to be more accessible to other marginalized abuse survivors such as the Latino(x), LGBTQ+, and Rural community members. The intended outcome for each training is for attendees to report they have a better understanding of the unique needs of each community and have a better understanding of how to create a culture within their organization that is based on ACRTI values.

Population(s) Served
Victims and oppressed people
Adults

Where we work

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Through the Direct Service and Outreach programs; The Initiative strives to support and empower survivors as they overcome barriers to safety and to create abuse-free culture for all. The Initiative is the only organization in Colorado, and one of a few in the United States, providing the specialized services that are so critical to abuse survivors with disabilities.

Goal 1: The Initiative’s advocates will provide advocacy to survivors of abuse with disabilities in Colorado to help them to know more ways to plan for their safety, feel more self-sufficient, access to justice, and ultimately, to live a life free of violence. Objective 1.1: The Initiative’s advocates will provide safety planning and safety-related services to 250 primary and secondary survivors with disabilities from January 1 through to December 31, 2020. The intended outcome is that 90% of the survivors served in Colorado will know more ways to plan for their safety. Objective 1.2: The Initiative’s advocates will provide and coordinate self-sufficiency services for basic needs 250 primary and secondary survivors with disabilities in Colorado from January 1 through to December 31, 2020. This service will help survivors with the means to be more self-sufficient. The Intended outcome is that 90% of the survivors that The Initiative serves will feel more self-sufficient. Goal 2: The Initiative will work to raise community awareness and increase community knowledge about the effects of crime on people with disabilities. The Initiative will also encourage and promote community collaborations. These efforts will improve the safety, healing, and justice of survivors with disabilities in Colorado. Objective 2.1: The Initiative’s Outreach team will conduct six trainings for law enforcement and/or victim service units in Colorado from January 1 through to December 31, 2020. The intended outcome is that survey results will show that 90% of attendees have a better understanding of abuse and the vulnerability to a crime that of people with disabilities face. Survey results will also show that 90% of attendees will incorporate the knowledge gained from this training into their work. Objective 2.2: The Initiative’s Outreach Team will facilitate 12 presentations to community service providers in Colorado between January 1 through to December 31, 2020. The intended outcome is that 90% of the attendees know more ways to advocate for and/or communicate with victims with disabilities, and 90% of attendees will want to collaborate with The Initiative in the future.

The Initiative has 35 years of experience in serving abuse survivors with disabilities and community training on the intersection of abuse and disability. The surveys are the best way to show the impact of The Initiative’s work to showcase the organization’s capabilities. The client surveys reported that 100% reported that they received the service they were seeking from The Initiative; 96% knows more ways to plan for safety; 91.5% knows more about community resources; 86% is better aware of cycle of violence and warning signs; 85.5% feels more self-sufficient , and 87.6% knows more about their rights and options. The hallmarks of The Initiative’s accomplishments in advocacy are reflected in survivors very own words. “Thank you for your compassion and listening ear. Casey has provided amazing and inspiring insight regarding each of the complex issues I am dealing with. She taught me that though I am disabled, I am still valuable and still able.” “Advocacy through The Initiative has made me feel more supported which helps manage the current situational factors. I do not feel as isolated. It helps immensely to know that the situation my son and I are in is acknowledged and not minimized or dismissed. I also appreciate disability awareness, and additional supports that are provided to accommodate needs. I have made outreach to many DV agencies in Colorado over the past 12 years. These agencies did not inform me of my rights or legal options, or acknowledge my need for guided steps, accommodating pace, and direct advocacy due to disability. Due to trauma, I have difficulty strongly advocating for me and my child. The Initiative understands the additional supports I need in advocacy - I am not just being referred to a website or a court information center for self-advocacy. I appreciate the understanding and patience I have received - and look forward to working with the Initiative towards my goal of safety for my son and myself, so that we can heal from our experiences in a safe manner without constant threat to our health and stability.” “Emma has been one of the very few advocates to take the time to be personable with me. She opened my heart & mind to my self worth! I cannot express my appreciation for her time and dedication. The office doggie is a sweetheart too! She also greeted me at the office door with a non-judgmental & loving "smile" it was a pleasant surprise. The doggie, the team, and especially Miss Emma have been the best at providing compassion in this rough patch of my life!” The Initiative has met its goal in providing deep, intersectional, and comprehensive education regarding disability and abuse. The audience has reported that 100% of attendees stated the material presented was relevant and useful in their work; 100% stated they now know more ways to advocate for domestic violence survivors with disabilities; and 100% of reported having a better understanding of vulnerabilities of people with disabilities.

The Initiative tracks the progress towards the goals through survey evaluation. The evaluation itself measures The Initiative’s mission goals and objectives of helping abuse survivors with disabilities to break the cycle at an individual level and to create awareness in the community as a whole to establish a positive, collaborative response to helping this vulnerable population. The evaluation is done using survey evaluations taken after working with a client or after the community outreach presentation has concluded. The project team will meet quarterly and review all survey data to ensure The Initiative is making progress toward the goals and objectives. The Initiative has received accolades on the percentage distribution of the surveys and replies. In summary, the effectiveness of The Initiative’s program is measured by survey evaluations.

We have been initiated two new programs this year. The rural and bi-cultural programs have allowed us to cover more of Colorado both in services, advocacy and outreach for training.

Financials

The Initiative
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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The Initiative

Board of directors
as of 10/31/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Pamela McNeil

Colorado Real Estate School

Term: 2018 - 2021

Jon Farnlof

Colorado Real Estate School

Pamela McNeill

Colorado Real Estate School

Renee Sitler

Community Member

David Henninger

Bayaud Enterprise

Kat Davies

University of Denver

Chanel Davis

The Initiative's Former Client

Betty Wytias

Domestic Violence Attorney & Policy

Anthony Antuna

Colorado VINE

Keywords

disability, women, advocacy, social change, domestic violence, abuse, sex assault