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April 1, 2013
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Know Your Nonprofit: FREED seeks to eliminate barriers

What is your mission statement?

FREED’s mission is to eliminate barriers to full equality for people with disabilities through programs which promote independent living and effect systems change while honoring dignity and self-determination.

What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?

Yearly budget 2012-2013 for both Nevada City and Marysville offices: $1,051,000.00. 18 paid employees.

What is your nonprofit’s history?

FREED Center for Independent Living was founded in 1985. It was formed through the efforts of people with disabilities in Nevada County and the Nevada County Committee on the Disabled and was a natural outgrowth of the independent living movement started in the 1970s by Ed Roberts to advocate for civil rights for people with disabilities. FREED was one of California’s first rural independent living centers. It has been consumer-controlled from its inception (i.e., a majority of its Board and Staff have disabilities) and is led by a cross-disability board of directors united by the common goal of equality for people with disabilities. It has been a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization in good standing since its beginning.

Who is your primary audience?

FREED serves people of all ages and with any type of disabilities who live in Nevada, Sierra, Yuba, Sutter and Colusa counties. FREED’s administrative office is located in Nevada City, and provides services to Nevada County and Sierra County residents. In addition FREED has a branch office in Marysville serving individuals in Yuba, Sutter, and Colusa Counties. FREED serves people fully participating as community members, as well as those wishing to transition to the community from institutional settings.

Clients Served: 1020 Individuals served in 2012: (500 Nevada and Sierra counties; 520 Yuba, Sutter and Colusa)

List the biggest achievements in your nonprofit’s history:

Changing attitudes about disability in our local community, through peer delivered direct services, advocacy, and education, which has resulted in:

• Accessibility improvements in infrastructure: sidewalks, curb cuts, governmental buildings, etc.

• Establishment of the Day for People with Disabilities at the Nevada County Fair

• Improvement of voting access for voters with disabilities, through poll worker training, polling place accessibility awareness and accessible voting methods.

List the biggest challenges you face:

1. Stereotypes and attitudinal barriers that individuals with disabilities encounter include:

• A lack of knowledge and understanding that all people including those with disabilities have the right to control their own life decisions,

• A lack of understanding that the community has a responsibility to make services, programs, businesses, recreational resources, etc. accessible to all community members, including those who have disabilities.

• A lack of understanding that people with disabilities have the same goals and aspirations as those without disabilities;

• The lack of understanding that many individuals with disabilities can and want to work.

FREED works to remove such attitudinal barriers through advocacy and education.

2. Increased funding and diversifying funding sources to meet the service needs of the community.

What is your No. 1 short-term goal for the next year?

FREED is the first independent living center in California to serve as the lead community partner working to implement and develop an Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC). The ADRC strives for streamlined social service delivery to people with disabilities, including seniors, through methods which include collaboration between agencies so that there is “no wrong door” for those seeking services and “options counseling” to assist people to know their options for long term services and supports and make informed choices around issues that arise with aging and disabilities. The No. 1 short term goal is to continue with development of partnerships and techniques to realize the ADRC model of service delivery.

What is your No. 1 long-term goal for the next three years?

The No. 1 goal for the next three years is to become a certified California ADRC, and to expand the ADRC model to surrounding communities.

FREED is a member of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which provides the weekly Know Your Nonprofit feature. You can learn more about The Center for Nonprofit Leadership online at www.CNLSierra.org. The Center is on Facebook www.facebook.com/NevadaCountyNonProfitLeadership and Twitter @NevCoNonprofits.


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The Union Updated Apr 1, 2013 02:20PM Published Apr 1, 2013 10:53PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.