Domestic Violence Initiative for Women with Disabilities

Abuse Free Culture for All

aka The Initiative   |   Denver, CO   |  www.theinitiativecolorado.org

Mission

Mission to Advocate for Persons with Disabilities who have Experienced Abuse with Vision to Create Abuse-Free Culture for All. We accomplish our mission and work towards our vision through our direct service and community education programs.

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

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

Blog

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?

Victim Advocacy

The Initiative provides free and confidential advocacy that honors all forms of abuse and all forms of disabilities including mental health. We focus our services to have multigenerational effects, as the majority of the clients are mothers with children seeking basic needs. Further, these services are rooted in accessible, culturally-responsive, and trauma-informed approaches to advocacy. All services are mobile and dynamic, and available to monolingual Spanish speakers and victims in rural areas. We do not require documentation on abuse, residency, or disability, and we are LGBTQAI+ inclusive. Additionally, we conduct free community education to service providers and entities within the criminal justice system to bring awareness to relevant disability and anti-oppression issues and to educate to remove stigmas that are socially and institutionally placed on persons with disabilities that, in turn, transform into a barrier in accessing help.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Victims and oppressed people
People with diseases and illnesses
Economically disadvantaged people
Immigrants and migrants

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

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.

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.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Disabled communities constitute the single largest underserved population in Colorado, at 21% or more have disabilities and are over 65 years old. The Initiative’s clients are 97% women, 73% of them have children, and 53% are racial minorities. Many of their victimizations are domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, and many of them have 3-4 different types of disabilities with chronic health, mental health, and brain injury being the most common. The barriers that our community face are ableism, sexism, racism, classism, xenophobia, poverty, living in rural areas, lack of education and work skills. Furthermore, disability and abuse are two of the leading causes of people experiencing homelessness as 50-75% do not have housing and they are seeking basic needs

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Case management notes,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    To ensure that we are meeting our clients at where they are at and recognizing the barriers that they face, we do not require documentation status of residence for undocumented survivors this is a barrier for them to get help. We do not require police report as over 65% of our clients’ report feeling unsafe calling the police for help, meaning that they are unlikely to have documentation of the abuse through the criminal justice system. All the advocates are mobile so that we can eliminate barriers around transportation to receive our services. We provide language access to our services as 50% of the victim advocates are bilingual (Spanish) and we utilize Colorado Language Access where 80 Language are available.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    Asking for feedback from the people that we serve makes our clients feel validated and valued.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback,

Financials

Domestic Violence Initiative for Women with Disabilities
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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
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Domestic Violence Initiative for Women with Disabilities

Board of directors
as of 11/04/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Pamela McNeil

Colorado Real Estate School

Term: 2021 - 2024

Jon Farnlof

Colorado Real Estate School

Pamela McNeill

Colorado Real Estate School

Renee Sitler

Community Member

David Henninger

Bayaud Enterprise

Betty Wytias

Domestic Violence Attorney & Policy

Eric Lucas

Summit Automotive Partners

Maria Manriquez

Disability Activist/Advocate

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/4/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian American/Pacific Islanders/Asian
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/04/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.