LEAD On! Newsletter – Building an Equity Lens: Strategies for Success

July 2023

Explore how the LEAD Center is building an equity lens to better learn from and support traditionally underserved populations with its policy information, tools, and resources.

A multi-racial group consisting of three individuals, one of whom is a person with a disability, seated together in an office.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

The disability community has long said, “Nothing about us without us.” Too often, that “us” has excluded people from traditionally underserved communities (e.g., people of color, LGBTQ+ community, Veterans, people from rural communities, and those with intersecting identities). To ensure a strong focus on equity, the LEAD Center is partnering with a group of experts with diverse lived and professional experiences in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA).

In this newsletter, you will learn about LEAD Center practices and resources to build an equity lens, including:

The LEAD Center’s Two-Pronged Approach: Equity Advisors and Dissemination Partners

The LEAD Center understands the power of community leaders in shaping best practices, explaining challenges, and sharing effective outreach methods for diverse communities. To make sure we build materials that resonate with and adequately support all types of communities, we partner with a group of Equity Advisors, who bring unique expertise based on their diverse experiences around issues of equity, including how to be more intentionally inclusive across LEAD Center activities. Equity Advisors help the LEAD Center ensure that new materials directly address diversity and are marketed and accessible to a variety of audiences. That said, our materials and messages are only as good as their reach. To improve our reach, we partner with a group of Dissemination Partners who are deeply rooted in their respective communities. These leaders enable us to share our information with communities that previously did not access our resources. The disability community is diverse, and we are glad to welcome new perspectives into the LEAD Center’s ever widening circle.

We encourage you to learn more about our partners by following the links to their websites.

Meet the LEAD Center’s Equity Advisors

Meet the LEAD Center’s Dissemination Partners

  • Association of People Supporting Employment First: a national membership organization focused exclusively on Employment First to facilitate the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace and community.
  • Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living: a national grassroots nonprofit membership organization consisting of over 260 members from Centers for Independent Living concerned with issues in rural America.
  • League of United Latin American Citizens: the largest and oldest Hispanic and Latin-American civil rights organization in the United States.
  • National Council on Independent Living: the longest-running national cross-disability, grassroots organization run by and for people with disabilities and advocates for the human and civil rights of disabled people throughout the United States.
  • National Urban League: a historic civil rights organization that advocates for economic empowerment of African Americans through its 90 affiliates serving 300 communities.
  • United Spinal Association: a nonprofit membership organization that empowers and advocates for people living with spinal cord injuries and disorders and all wheelchair users.


By using lessons learned from its past research and insights from the Equity Advisors and Dissemination Partners, the LEAD Center team presented at the 2023 National Association of Workforce Development Professionals’ annual conference in May. LEAD shared pilot findings on developing financial career pathways and targeted financial empowerment activities focused on low- and moderate-income individuals from traditionally underserved communities. By modeling DEIA practices, these pilots connected diverse communities of people with disabilities to financial empowerment resources and career pathways with living wages. Additionally, in June, the LEAD Center team traveled to the 2023 APSE national conference to highlight how to support disabled jobseekers to become Direct Support Professionals through customized training and job descriptions and how to partner with the workforce system to create opportunities for employers and jobseekers.


Resource: Workforce System and Bank Partnerships: A “How To” Guide

This online toolkit provides a blueprint to help workforce development boards establish stronger partnerships with banks. These resources also encourage workforce development boards to examine whether their existing partnerships focus on equity and support of historically underserved communities.

Resource: What Are My Housing Options?

Learn about resources that can help you make housing decisions that best meet your needs. This resource is available in English, Spanish, and simplified Chinese.

Resource: Aligning Employment and Financial Conversations in American Job Centers

This quick reference guide provides information and resources to help American Job Center staff and partners discuss financial and employment goal setting with disabled jobseekers. This resource is available in English, Spanish, and simplified Chinese.

Resource: Aligning My Career Path with My Earning Needs
How much money do I need to earn to pay my bills and meet my financial goals? Asking yourself these and other questions can help you align your career path with your earning needs. This resource is available in English, Spanish, and simplified Chinese.


Advancing Financial Mobility within Native Communities (May 3, 2023)

This virtual dialogue, the third in the series, reviews economic disparities and access to financial resources within Native communities. Presenters share strategies for supporting Native individuals, including those with disabilities, with resources for economic self-sufficiency, the importance of banking, and financial education. Storytellers also offer personal experiences about their financial journeys to economic advancement and self-sufficiency.


Upcoming Webinar
Partnerships to Support Successful Customized Employment (July 25, 2023)

Native American Virtual Dialogue on Career Pathways (August 2023)