Minnesota’s nationally recognized Partners in Policymaking program is open for applications for the 2017-2018 year. Deadline to apply for the free, in-depth leadership training program is July 10. Many people with disabilities and parents of young children with developmental disabilities have taken part in the program, and have learned to better advocate for their needs.
Partners in Policy Making is celebrating its 30 years’ service to Minnesotans, with a party May 13 in Bloomington. That same day the 2016-2017 graduating class will also be honored. The graduates join a group of more than 900 program graduates.
Partners in Policymaking helps class members increase their knowledge and confidence, and gain new tools and strategies to better advocate for their needs and the needs of their children. Sessions are held monthly over an eight-month period. The 2017-2018 classes start in September.
Many well-known Minnesota disability rights advocates got their start through Partners in Policymaking. The groundbreaking program was developed by the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Graduates report that they gained a greater understanding of disability law and policies, and increased their self confidence in advocating for their needs,” said Colleen Wieck, executive director of the council. “Many have become leaders in their own communities as they speak up for people with disabilities.”
The program has been a model for programs in most other states and in several countries around the world. More than 27,000 people have gone through the program.
“This program is based on the belief that systems change is best brought about through the efforts of those most affected by them, and we seek to arm these individuals with the tools needed to be successful in the public policy arena,” said Wieck. Participants benefit from group learning experiences. Local experts and nationally recognized leaders in school inclusion, community organizing, governmental processes, and disability issues are among the presenters.
This year’s sessions start September 15. Sessions cover the history of the disability and self-advocacy movements, inclusive education, supported living, competitive employment, and avenues to influence county, state and federal legislative processes.
Two-day sessions are typically held on Fridays and Saturdays, from September to May. December is a break month. During March, participants attend a Sunday-Monday session, to prepare for and then meet with state lawmakers.
Costs for the program are covered by a federal grant. Child care and respite allowances are given. Overnight accommodations are provided for those who travel from outside the Twin Cities area to attend. Mileage is reimbursed and meals are provided.
Sessions are held at the Crowne Plaza Aire, at 3 Appletree Square in Bloomington, near the Mall of America and the MSP International Airport.
Limited to 40 Minnesota residents, the class members are selected by a panel of program graduates and representatives of the council. Selected participants must attend all sessions and
complete homework assignments.