Ruderman Family Foundation
This article may have too many section headers dividing up its content. (February 2018)
The Ruderman Family Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation established in 2002 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, managed by the Ruderman family. The foundation operates in the United States and in Israel in two main areas: inclusion of people with disabilities in society and strengthening the relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community, while promoting strategic philanthropy and expanding circles of giving and involvement.
- 1 White papers
- 1.1 "Media Coverage of Law Enforcement Use of Force and Disability"
- 1.2 "The Employment of Actors with Disabilities in Television"
- 1.3 "Voting Accessibility for People with Disabilities"
- 1.4 "Self-Driving Cars: The Impact on People with Disabilities"
- 1.5 "Media Coverage of the Murder of People with Disabilities by Their Caregivers"
- 1.6 "Criminalization of Children with Non-Apparent Disabilities"
- 1.7 "Challenge to Create More Authentic Disability Casting and Representation on TV"
- 1.8 "Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders"
- 1.9 "Ivy League Schools Fail Students with Mental Illness"
- 2 Network
- 3 Ruderman Studio-Wide Roundtable on Disability Inclusion
- 4 Ruderman Prize In Inclusion
- 5 Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion
- 6 Me Before You controversy
- 7 Poland's Holocaust law
- 8 Awards
- 9 References
- 10 External links
"Media Coverage of Law Enforcement Use of Force and Disability"
In March 2016, the Ruderman Family Foundation released its first white paper – a two-year media study and overview (2013–2015) on media coverage of law enforcement use of force and disability – in order to change the public's awareness of people with disabilities and the civil rights battle they face for full inclusion and equality. The study was authored by David M. Perry, a disability rights journalist and Associate Professor of History at Dominican University, and Lawrence Carter-Long, one of the world's foremost authorities on media representation of disability. It concluded that disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers and make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention, including Eric Garner, Kajieme Powell, Tanesha Anderson, Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland. This was true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers were ultimately fully exonerated. The authors argue that the media ignored the disability component of these stories, or, worse, told them in ways that intensified stigma and ableism. The Ruderman white paper received international attention for bringing this issue to light and hopes to start a larger dialogue about the need for greater law enforcement training when it comes to interacting with people with disabilities. The study was covered by media outlets including NBC News, Al Jazeera, Russia Today, International Business Times and New York Magazine.
"The Employment of Actors with Disabilities in Television"
A second white paper was released by the foundation in July 2016 and revealed that the most unrepresented minority in Hollywood is people with disabilities – a group that had not been included within the recent #OscarSoWhite 'diversity crisis' conversation. Despite those with disabilities representing nearly 20% of the US population, 95% of characters with disabilities on TV are portrayed by able-bodied actors. The report, co-authored by actor Danny Woodburn, one of the most recognizable actors with a disability and most famously known as playing Mickey on Seinfeld, and Kristina Kopić, Advocacy Content Specialist at the foundation, also surveyed hundreds of actors who have visible and non-visible disabilities to document their experience. A plurality of actors with disabilities worked less than once a year and were constantly subjected to negative stigma and preconceived bias on the part of casting agents and producers. Ruderman and Woodburn co-authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times discussing the issue, and the findings were also published in The Washington Post, Mic, Variety, Yahoo News, Chicago Tribune, The Columbus Dispatch, Philly.com, IndieWire, IMDB, Vulture MXDWN.com and Teen Vogue.
"Voting Accessibility for People with Disabilities"
Leading up to the 2016 US presidential election, the foundation released its third white paper, on voting accessibility for people with disabilities. The Government Accountability Office reported that in 2008 73% of polling places had some potential accessibility barrier, while a Rutgers and Syracuse study determined that if voters with disabilities voted at the same rate as voters with exactly the same demographics, but without disabilities, three million more people would have voted in the 2012 US presidential election. Co-written by Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the analysis focused on: insufficient poll worker training; access barriers to polls (including publicly available transportation); access barriers to elections material and registration material prior to elections; stigma (including against developmental and psychiatric disabilities); and limitations on resources available to election officials. The study was featured on Fox News and covered by The Guardian and Mic.
"Self-Driving Cars: The Impact on People with Disabilities"
In January 2017, a fourth white paper was released about the benefits of self-driving cars for people with disabilities. Written with Securing America's Future Energy (SAFE), the report concluded that autonomous vehicles could enable new employment opportunities for approximately two million people with disabilities, save $19 billion annually in healthcare expenditures, and provide $1.3 trillion in savings from productivity gains, fuel costs and accident prevention. Furthermore, the report emphasized the societal benefit for people with disabilities by allowing more individuals to fulfill civic responsibilities and exercise civil rights, as well as the impact people with disabilities can have in the legislative and regulatory discussions surrounding emerging transportation technologies. The piece was featured in a number of outlets including Metro, Boston Herald, Autotrader, Curbed and Futurism.
"Media Coverage of the Murder of People with Disabilities by Their Caregivers"
On March 1, the National Disability Day of Mourning—an event collaboratively created by the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to commemorate people with disabilities killed by their caregivers—the Ruderman Family Foundation released a white paper on the media coverage of such murders. This study was again authored by David M. Perry, in collaboration with the Foundation and several self-advocates, including Zoe Gross from ASAN. The study found that at least one such murder takes place in North America a week, and that the media coverage too often erases the victims while sympathizing with the killers.
"Criminalization of Children with Non-Apparent Disabilities"
In a white paper released in August 2017, the foundation discussed that people with non-apparent disabilities often don’t receive the accommodations guaranteed to them under the Americans with Disabilities Act. They discussed that students with non-apparent disabilities are suspended and criminalized at disproportionately high rates. According to the paper, over half of the incarcerated population of the United States has a mental illness and another 19-31% have a non-apparent disability, like cognitive or learning disabilities.
"Challenge to Create More Authentic Disability Casting and Representation on TV"
In September 2017, a white paper issued the "Ruderman TV Challenge", which is a call-to-action follow up to the Ruderman White Paper on the Employment of Actors with Disabilities in Television, discussing that only 2% of all television characters compared to the 20% of the US population is disabled, and that 95% of top TV show characters with disabilities are played by non-disabled performers. The challenge called for the creators of scripted television pilots to audition and cast more performers with disabilities.
"Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders"
In April 2017, the Ruderman White Paper "Mental Health and Suicide of First Responders" examined mental health issues among first responders and what leads to their elevated rate of suicide. One study included in the white paper found that on average, police officers witness 188 critical incidents during their careers which can lead to several forms of mental illness. The paper also lays out barriers that prevent first responders from accessing mental health services when coping with trauma.
"Ivy League Schools Fail Students with Mental Illness"
Released in December 2018, this white paper investigates the practice of imposing leaves of absence on students who are experiencing mental illness. The study grades the leave of absence policies of all 8 universities, none of which received higher than a D+. The white paper focuses on a common response of colleges to the mental health crisis on campus—providing or imposing leaves of absence on students who are experiencing mental illness. The paper also covered ethnographic stories regarding the problem.
Starting in 2016, the foundation created a network of young self advocates and young leaders without disabilities called Link20. The goal is to create a network of networks that can rapidly respond to any challenges the disability community identifies or faces. In March 2017, Link20 released a well-received, collaborative video aimed at changing social attitudes toward people with disabilities. Individuals that have supported the function include Dwayne Johnson.
Ruderman Studio-Wide Roundtable on Disability Inclusion
On November 1, 2016, Jay Ruderman and the Ruderman Family Foundation put together the Ruderman Studio-Wide Roundtable on Disability Inclusion, bringing together industry experts from the film and television industry to discuss the need for disability diversity in all aspects of the production process. The panelists, which included Academy Award winner Marlee Matlin, Speechless creator Scott Silveri, Speechless star Micah Fowler, Seinfeld's Danny Woodburn, Mad TV's Orlando Jones, and Walking Dead producer Glen Mazzara, highlighted successful examples and offered best practices in the quest to reach wider audiences and achieve greater authenticity through disability inclusion. The event received extensive coverage for its groundbreaking effort, being featured in the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, Yahoo!, Nonprofit Quarterly and The Mighty.
Ruderman Prize In Inclusion
In 2012, the Ruderman Family Foundation launched the annual Ruderman Prize In Inclusion - an international $250,000 prize awarded annually to five companies and organizations operating innovative services that foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities. The award spotlights the work being done and the models that can be replicated across the world. Thirty $50,000 prizes have been given out to date and past winners include organizations in Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Germany, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, Canada and Argentina.
Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion
The foundation has awarded the M.E.R. Award in Inclusion annually since 2013 to an individual who demonstrates outstanding accomplishment in the field of disability inclusion. In 2013, the award was given to Michale Stein, co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability. In 2014, it was given to Ari Ne'eman, President and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. In 2015, the recipient was Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa, retired), a write of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 2017 the winner was Oscar-winning actress Marlee Matlin. The 2019 recipient of the award was Olympic champion Michael Phelps, for sharing his mental health journey.
Me Before You controversy
In response to the release of the 2016 film Me Before You, Ruderman condemned the film's widely criticized portrayal of disability, in which the protagonist—who is paralyzed—ends up committing suicide because he feels his life is not worth living. Ruderman was widely quoted as stating, "To the millions of people with significant disabilities currently leading fulfilling, rich lives, it posits that they are better off committing suicide." Ruderman's second major point in this controversy was that it is problematic for an able-bodied actor to play a character with a disability, a topic he often speaks up about.
Poland's Holocaust law
The Ruderman Family Foundation removed a video from YouTube that criticizes Poland's new law on rhetoric about the Holocaust. The video, posted the morning of February 21, 2018, was part of a campaign urging the United States to suspend its ties with Poland over the law that criminalizes blaming the Polish nation or state for German Nazi crimes. The Ruderman Family Foundation released a statement saying that "after a hugely successful campaign that went viral internationally and among American Jews and Israelis who have signed the petition — the Foundation was contacted by the Polish Jewish community and because of their concerns for their safety, we decided to halt the campaign." The video was condemned by Jewish Communities in Poland and the Jewish Community of Warsaw for its use of the phrase "Polish Holocaust" as false and hurtful, as well as by the Israeli Embassy in Poland.
- 2018 - Chuck Segal Award
- 2016 – The Arc Catalyst Award for Philanthropy Foundation of the Year
- 2016 – Edward M. Kennedy Leadership Award from the Disability Law Center of Massachusetts (DLCMA)
- 2015 – Visionary Leadership Award from the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)
- 2014 – Lewis H. Millender Community of Excellence Award from Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP)
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- "The Ruderman White Paper: Voting Accessibility For People With Disabilities". RudermanFoundation.org. Retrieved December 10, 2017.
- Rubin, Shoshana (November 3, 2016). "The hidden group of Americans still fighting for the right to vote". Fox News. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
- "Why do one in seven US citizens still have to fight to vote?". The Guardian. November 1, 2016. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
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- Toussaint, Kristin (January 17, 2017). "Self-driving cars could help employ 2M people with disabilities: Study". Metro. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
- "Study: Self-driving cars will benefit disabled". www.bostonherald.com. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
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- http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Jewish-group-asks-why-Hollywood-loves characters-with-disabilities-on-screen-but-not-on-set-506604
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- Anderson, Tre'vell. "Disability organization condemns 'Blind' film for casting Alec Baldwin in lead role". latimes.com. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "California Offers Safe Space For Firefighters To Work Through Stress And Trauma". NPR.org. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- Eastern Tech students and faculty grieve loss of Baltimore County officer who killed himself at school
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- Ruderman, Jay (June 8, 2018). "Bourdain and Spade suicides spotlight crisis also affecting police and firefighters". Fox News. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "'Silence can be deadly': 46 officers were fatally shot last year. More than triple that — 140 — committed suicide". USA TODAY. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "Are Colleges Failing Students with Mental Illness?". Psychology Today. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- Stannard, Ed. "Report: Yale fails to meet grade in mental health leave policies". West Hartford News. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "Columbia receives D grade for leave of absence policies in national report". Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "A powerful Israeli video on disabilities inclusion: 'We are here'". Jewish News. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
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- Kilgannon, Maddie. "Marlee Matlin gives opening address at Ruderman Family Foundation Inclusion Summit - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "Michael Phelps is Recipient of Morton E. Ruderman Award in Inclusion". ejewishphilanthropy.com. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
- "'Me Before You' director responds to controversy over film's ending". Retrieved July 1, 2016.
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