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Landmarks wins grant to partially fund Breaking Down Barriers initiative

January 16, 2013

Boston Landmarks Orchestra with Boston Lyric OperaIn October of last year Landmarks Orchestra staff were offered a wonderful opportunity by the Liberty Mutual Foundation to attend a workshop whose focus was to help local non-profits improve upon efforts to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. Laura Jennings, Manager of Communications, Outreach and Education, attended expecting to benefit from the opportunity to critically analyze our Breaking Down Barriers program through Liberty Mutual’s inclusion assessment survey and through conversations with other non-profit groups with similar programs.What she did not expect was to be given the opportunity to compete for a grant that would fund programming for people in the disabilities community. This was certainly exciting news!

The first half of the workshop focused on assessing the existing initiatives non-profits had in place. Each participant was asked to fill out an Inclusion Self Assessment Survey to help with this process. It asked questions about procedures and policies in place to ensure accessibility for all. Afterwards, group leaders were asked to share what the survey taught them about their disabilities program: What is already being done? What can be done better? And what new components can be added to make programming more comprehensive?

Filling out the survey gave me a renewed sense of confidence in our Breaking Down Barriers Program,” Ms. Jennings said, “I was delighted that I was able to answer almost all of the questions affirmatively. I feel really good to know that Landmarks developed a thorough program that has been expanding in the right direction. We’ve been working hard to make our concerts 100% accessible and it’s great to know that we’ve been taking the right steps“.

In the second half of the workshop, Liberty Mutual staff announced that they had some grant money available for groups who had initiatives like Breaking Down Barriers and discussed the application process. “I knew we had a good chance to get additional funding because our program was so thorough and inclusive,” Jennings said.

The application was submitted before the holidays and forgotten about for a few weeks while the office closed and staff took vacation to be with family for the holiday season. “Upon returning to the office on January 2nd there was so much to do that we didn’t think about it right away,” said Executive Director Harron Ellenson, “I finally asked Laura about the status of our application on Tuesday and we received our award money in the mail on Wednesday, it was wonderful news and incredible timing!

With this additional funding Landmarks can continue to offer braille and large print programs as well as assistive listening devices and ASL interpreters for all of our spoken word performances. This support has also put us on the right track to realize some big dreams for our summer programming. For now it’ll have to be a secret, but we’ve got incredible plans underway and we are so grateful to our funders for making these dreams a possibility!


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