Alexander Institute for Inclusion Receives Prestigious Award

The Alexander Institute for Inclusion was selected by the Ruderman Family Foundation as one of five organizations worldwide to receive the 2014 Ruderman Prize In Inclusion.

Posted
December 21, 2020
Stanford and Joan Alexander

Alexander Institute for Inclusion Receives Prestigious Award

The Alexander Institute for Inclusion was selected by the Ruderman Family Foundation as one of five organizations worldwide to receive the 2014 Ruderman Prize In Inclusion.

Posted
December 21, 2020

Thu, Jul 17, 2014

The JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion, Jewish Family Service’s division which fosters a community in which individuals with disabilities are fully included, has been selected by the Ruderman Family Foundation as one of five organizations worldwide to receive the 2014 Ruderman Prize In Inclusion. The prize honors organizations that operate innovative programs and provide services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in their local Jewish community.

The goal of the prize is to celebrate the winning organizations as inspiration and models which could be replicated elsewhere in order to encourage the foundation’s belief that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community. A grant of $50,000 accompanies the prize, which allows each recipient to further its missions.

“Now in its third year, the Ruderman Prize In Inclusion has become an international recognition of excellence for the inclusion of people with disabilities in our worldwide Jewish community,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “This year we have selected organizations from Australia, Canada, Israel and the United States. It is our hope that these awards will inspire Jewish organizations around the world to embrace the inclusion of people with all abilities in our community.”

The JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion was established by JFS to complement the direct services provided to individuals with disabilities. It is dedicated to engaging local communities in vital discussions on how meaningfully to include people with disabilities.

The Institute develops the leadership skills of key players, whose awareness of inclusion brings the conversation (and ultimately action) to the forefront of their work, academic or communal environments. In its efforts to increase awareness across the board, the Institute comprehensively trains leaders and committees dedicated to the cause, which challenges organizations to embrace inclusion in a proactive way.

The JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion develops stand-out leaders of all abilities to foster an inclusive environment in schools, synagogues, camps, workplaces and communal organizations.

Key initiatives include the presentation of Continuing Legal Education and business-oriented workshops on the Americans with Disabilities Act, and etiquette related to disabilities in the workplace; presentations at schools to challenge students to be socially inclusive of peers with differing abilities; the establishment of inclusion committees at area synagogues, so that engaged members can create communal experiences that embrace all who want to participate; consultations with camps, schools and organizational leadership to expand services for individuals with disabilities; the creation of opportunities to include young adults with disabilities in organizational internships; and the convening of a coalition of Jewish service providers of disability services and share ideas and collaborate.

A key objective of the Institute is reducing stigma related to disabilities. This goal is achieved through captivating arts and educational programs that effectively change perception, promote inclusion and encourage diversity. Partnering with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities and founding sponsor, TIRR Memorial Hermann, to host ReelAbilities: Houston Disabilities Film Festival, the JFS Alexander Institute leverages a citywide series of events to launch ongoing, long-term inclusion initiatives throughout Houston. The Institute strives to expand the definition of diversity to encompass individuals with disabilities. The long-term goal of this program is to lead the conversation about inclusion within various citywide initiatives which are supported by both the public and private sector and, ultimately, to increase opportunities for individuals with disabilities in the workplace.

Joan Alexander, who, along with husband, Stanford, founded the JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion, has been active as a proponent of disability services and inclusion efforts that have impacted the Jewish community nationally and in Israel. She had the opportunity to meet Ruderman.

“As president of The Ruderman Family Foundation, Jay Ruderman has been one of the most influential leaders at the forefront of raising awareness about the inclusion of people with disabilities,” stated Joan Alexander. “Stanford and I have so much respect for the game-changing work of The Ruderman Family Foundation and their passionate commitment to ensure that all people with disabilities are included in the Jewish community, here, in Israel and worldwide.  Knowing that our missions are so aligned, it is a tremendous honor for the work of the Jewish Family Service Alexander Institute for Inclusion to be recognized with an award from one of our peers.  We truly believe that it will take these types of collaborations – all of us working together to make a difference by eliminating stigma, providing needed services and changing attitudes about the way people perceive those of us living with disabilities and special needs.”

From the outset, the prize has become an international one, with hundreds of organizations from almost every continent applying. In the past, organizations from Israel, South Africa, Russia, the U.K., Mexico, the U.S. and Argentina have received the award. This year’s winners include programs dedicated to employment, higher education, mentoring, leadership training and full inclusion in communal activities. They support the Ruderman Foundation ideal that fully inclusive programs ensure that everyone can participate together without stigma or imposed limitations.

Other organizations awarded the 2014 prize are Jewish Care’s Big Brother Big Sister Mentoring Program (Australia); Bar Ilan University’s Empowerment Program (Israel); The Jewish Community Center of the Greater St. Paul Area (St. Paul, Minn.); and Jewish Vocational Services of Toronto (Toronto, Canada).

While the work of JFS in inclusion has had a citywide impact, Linda L. Burger, CEO of JFS, emphasizes the need for the local Jewish community to engage in conversations on inclusion and to take action within its camps, schools, synagogues and organizations.

“Jewish Family Service and its Alexander Institute for Inclusion work daily to foster a community that includes all individuals,” Burger maintained. “Receiving the Ruderman Prize In Inclusion is the highest form of acknowledgment we could ever hope for. The Ruderman Family Foundation is a light, leading all those who follow in its path to a world that has room for everyone to thrive. We are grateful to be recipients of this prestigious prize. Still, we know that in our Jewish communal organizations and synagogues, there is so much more to do. JFS Alexander Institute for Inclusion is prepared to continue our efforts so that everyone can be a part of our wonderful community.”


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