Mattie J.T. Stepanek wins grant, becomes Welcoming Community Movement Partner

Published 12:26 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2020

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Recent Grant Helps Build Community, Create Inclusive Spaces and Change Perceptions in Georgia

AMERICUS, GA (NOV. 1, 2020) – The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation was recently awarded a Welcoming Communities Movement (WCM) grant managed by Global Ubuntu and funded by the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD). Through the grant, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation will help to build and sustain a movement where the culture shifts from one of hate, unfairness, dehumanization and exclusion to one of love, inclusion, understanding and belonging. The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation joins a cohort of other grantees in cities throughout Georgia.

The Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation will serve as Restorative Healing Coach for the Welcoming Community Movement Fund. They will provide personalized site mentorship to local initiatives across the state of Georgia who are working to help communities heal from systemic racism and ableism. Their goal is to provide tools, methods, and resources to the staff of these initiatives so that they are better prepared to role model peaceful collaboration.

“We are thrilled to have received this opportunity,” said Laura Bauer, Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation. In Mattie’s words, ‘Our world is multi-colored, multi-hued, and multi-issued. It is not acceptable to enable or perpetuate ‘we’ and ‘they’ attitudes, habits, and interactions that become the essence of our reality. We must build bridges for ‘us.’ This grant will allow the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation to help build bridges for community initiatives doing the hard work on the ground to bring peace and justice to ALL people.”

As a grantee, the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation becomes a Local Initiative and partner of the GCDD Welcoming Community Movement. Each Local Initiative has a lead community builder whose role is to build the group, and to support the inclusion of marginalized members of the community – including those with developmental disabilities – in community conversations and advocacy as leaders and participants. Grantees receive financial support, training in community development methods, and leadership skill building to support the planning and facilitation of their community building activities.

“Purposefully involving people with and without developmental disabilities in collaborative projects and community conversations is pivotal to the framework of the Welcoming Community Movement,” said Sumaya Karimi, founder and co-director of Global Ubuntu, which manages the grant. “We seek to support communities who welcome and utilize the gifts of everyone, including people with developmental disabilities and others who have been historically marginalized, to create avenues toward reciprocity, interdependence and social change. We’re thrilled to have the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation join us in this mission.”

About Welcoming Community Movement

The purpose of the Welcoming Community Movement is to pave the way toward an equitable and just society – foundational of welcoming communities – where people across ability, race, ethnicity, culture, class, socioeconomic background, educational status, gender, and religion are treated with dignity and respect. Dialogues and advocacy are poised to shift culture and attitudes so that everyone regards others with empathy and compassion, people feel welcomed and develop a sense of belonging. The WCMF is a journey through disabilities and racial justice, bringing people from the margins to the heart of community and creating spaces for community members with and without developmental disabilities to lead in organizing and facilitating community conversations and collaborative action. Through this grant, Global Ubuntu and GCDD provide Local Initiatives with financial, facilitation and mentoring support along their journeys to create welcoming communities and neighborhoods.

To learn more about the Welcoming Community Dialogues, visit: