The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Equity: Do we really understand what it is?

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

It’s that third one, ‘equity’, that I see as the tough one.
George Martin

Please read the blog by George Martin from December 23, 2014 about Equity.


Community Leadership is a Responsibility for the Whole Community

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

This kind of thinking under-girds a concept that I call ‘community leadership’, which I think should be part of the mission of all nonprofit organizations. It is not sufficient just to be about fulfilling our specific organizational mission. We must embrace the broader good of promoting what is best for the whole community. I know that some will say that nonprofits have so few resources that we have to use them for our narrower interests. Yet, I believe that unless we join in the broader cause of making the whole community a better place to live, the lives of those we have a specific responsibility to serve will not be as rich as they could be.

George Martin, December 2, 2014

This is a excerpt from a “Why We Take Responsibity” blog that George Martin composed a couple of years ago at this time. It is part of a series that calls us to think about how communities and people we serve will all be better if we consider how true leaders have not only their own organization’s best interests at heart, but the whole community as well. Leaders build communities where EVERYONE BELONGS!

Revisiting Equity as a Principle of Organizational Life

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

In 2014, The Arcadia Institute posted a series of Blogs written by George Martin, who was then the President. The series was about equity, inclusion and Diversity. As I think about the recent election and conversations that are occurring throughout our nation and community, I thought it would be worth revisiting these blogs.

We start to day with Equity as a Principle of Organizational Life.

In its leadership role within our community the Kalamazoo Community Foundation has affirmed three primary principles that can serve to bind us together as a community: Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.

In the work of The Arcadia Institute we have made the inclusion of people with disabilities our highest value and an integral part of our mission. We evaluate our work in terms of the extent to which we have contributed toward that end.

We affirm diversity as an explicit aspect of what we consider a good community to be. We appeal to a common affirmation of diversity in our efforts to persuade the broader community to value and support people with disabilities. We also affirm a community in which a wide variety of people with different characteristics and conditions take part.

I think that our colleagues and friends who work within other nonprofit organizations not only support diversity and inclusion, however they may define them, as a matter of course in their work.

It’s that third one, ‘equity’, that I see as the tough one. I think that the reason we may hesitate to affirm equity is that it is confused with ‘equality’. So let us examine these two terms. Equality is not so hard to define. Equal means the same, in both qualitative and quantitative ways, such as the right to happiness or the same share of the family inheritance.

Equity, however, is not so clear cut an idea, in part because it includes equality as part of its meaning. Getting an equitable share does not mean getting the same measure. It means getting what is fair, and in order to determine what is fair we have to dig a little deeper. Equity includes having your basic needs met, like what you need to eat and your health care needs met. It even carries the connotation of a right, or entitlement, to have those basic needs met. It also includes the idea of equal treatment under the law and equal access to the goods and services of the community.

People among us, like some people with disabilities, will not have access to a decent share of our community’s goods unless there is support for the principle of equity. Many of them will not be able to participate, much less compete, on the same terms as people without disabilities. Some will need both support and accommodations to take their rightful place among us. Other groups of people face similar difficulties. All both need and deserve equity.

When it comes to supporting rights and entitlements some folks back away from the idea of equity, or even say supporting equal treatment in our court systems. So it appears to me that the Kalamazoo Community Foundation is really stepping forward as a leader in adding equity to its core priorities or values. They are offering support and a challenge to organizations who seek their financial backing. Those of us leading nonprofit organizations are blessed with both the challenge and the promise of support. We are being urged to embody one of the toughest core values in American life. And when we meet the challenge, and especially when we enter into covenants to work together to achieve equity, we amount to a powerful force for good.

Welcoming, Supporting and Respecting People who Experience Disability

The blog this week was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

The main purpose for the existence of The Arcadia Institute is to make the community welcoming, supportive and respectful of people who experience disability. We do this in three ways:

1. Work with individuals to discover their talents and skills and where the want to participate in the community

2. Work with organizations who are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion for people who experience disability

3. Facilitate Connect Kalamazoo which is a network of organizations who work toward making Kalamazoo a community where everyone belongs.

Please visit our website at to learn more!

Bus Stop Films: The Interviewer

The blog was written by Dr. Allison Hammond, Executive Director of The Arcadia Institute.

(If you don’t want to read this blog at least watch this video called “The Interviewer.” It is full of humor, surprises and a wonderful message.

On behalf of The Arcadia Institute, I attend the County Wide Transition Team meetings. What is that?

Kai McDonald, Coordinator of the Kalamazoo Regional Education Service Agency (KRESA) County Wide Transition Team facilitates a group of Regional and Local Transition Coordinators. Transition Coordinators are school employees who work to find opportunities for students in special education to connect to the community. In addition to school employees, there are other organizations that attend the meetings that will provide support for students to make community connections.
One of the focuses of the County Wide Transition Team is to open doors for opportunities for students to have work study experiences, intern or become employed. Research shows that if students with disabilities leave school with work experience or even better yet paid work experience they are more likely to have steady employment and live more independent lives when the leave school.

At the last County Wide Transition Team meeting, Kai presented this video called “The Interviewer“, which was produced by Bus Stop Films. They have a YouTube channel.

I encourage you to watch this video and the others that are by Bus Stop Films!