The Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (Council) is excited to announce we awarded 3 community organizations Cultural Brokers in Maryland grants.
Cultural brokers are members of the community they work with. They build trust and connections between community members and the services and supports they need and want.
The Cultural Brokers in Maryland grants will be used to train and empower cultural brokers within communities that have less access to information and resources compared to others. They will work to increase access and decrease barriers for people with developmental disabilities and their families around Maryland.
“Maryland is one of the most diverse states in the country,” said Rachel London, Executive Director of the Council. “We want all Marylanders with developmental disabilities and their families to have the same resources, opportunities, and support to advocate for themselves and live the lives they want. The Cultural Brokers in Maryland grants help make that happen.”
The 3 organizations that the Council funded are listed below.
The Ethiopian and Eritrean Special Needs Community (EESNC) will recruit 8 cultural brokers who will lead activities in Amharic. They will provide resources and information to people with developmental disabilities and their families within the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities. They will serve 20 people with developmental disabilities and 45 caregivers within these communities. They also plan to train 6 faith-based and non-faith-based organizations in their community about inclusion of people with developmental disabilities. EESNC is led by Azeb Ataro Adere, a member of this community and a mother of a son with developmental disabilities.
“Culturally competent information and resources play a crucial role in empowering parents to advocate for their child’s needs effectively,” Adere said.
Doreen Shing, in partnership with the Chinese Culture and Community Service Center (CCACC), will develop and lead a community-based support system for people with developmental disabilities currently involved with the CCACC. She plans to expand to the Burmese immigrant community in Maryland. This support system will be led by multiple cultural brokers who will support more than 20 people with disabilities and their families in Chinese, Burmese, and other Asian languages. This project is led by Doreen Shing, a member of this community and a person with developmental disabilities.
“One of CCACC’s missions is to serve as a bridge between underserved Asian American immigrant community members and resources and support,” said Kate Lu, Director of the CCACC Health Center. “This cultural broker program fits into this mission. It will bring resources and hope to the disability community.”
The Arc Prince George’s County will provide resources to 150 people with developmental disabilities and their families in Spanish-speaking communities across the county. The Arc Prince George’s County plans to recruit and train 5 cultural brokers, and provide resources for them to share within the community. They will also work with community organizations to assess and adjust their work to reflect the needs of the community. They will also implement a training for their staff on how to best support and be responsive to the Spanish-speaking community.
“In the spirit of community, this grant will empower us to change 150 lives and touch countless more,” said Melonee Clark, Division Director of Family, Education and Community Engagement at The Arc Prince George’s County. “We will support Spanish-speaking people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families by providing equity, understanding, and representation.”
The Cultural Brokers in Maryland grant is part of the Council’s state plan. Council members worked together to write the goals for the grant and the request for proposals. Council members also reviewed and selected the organizations that best fit the goals of the project.
“The Cultural Brokers in Maryland grants empower communities who are underserved by many disability services in Maryland,” said Kay Han, a Council member who helped review proposals and implement this project. “These communities have been unable to access information and resources relating to developmental disabilities. This project is important to the Council because it raises awareness about how poverty, language barriers, and cultural differences can lead to differences in services.”
Please contact Chris Rogers (email@example.com) for more information about the Council’s Cultural Brokers in Maryland project.
This Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council project is fully supported by the Administration for Community Living as part of a total award of $1,265,982.