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2023 Social Impact Report

Letter From the Executive Director

Dear friends,

This year has been all about evolution: changing our name, our infrastructure and our funding practice. These changes were all made with one of DOF’s values in mind: the importance of adapting to community-led needs and feedback.

So, why the name change? Previously known as CSD Unites Community Foundation, we became the Deaf Organizations Fund (DOF). It’s been our hope that this new name more explicitly reflects our mission, which remains steadfast: strengthening organizations working with deaf communities.

Why the infrastructure change? We became a subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) and are awaiting 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of our own. This brings us one step closer to being a fully community-led philanthropic entity. After all, the ripple effect of funding and resourcing these amazing deaf-centric organizations ultimately reverberates among our own deaf communities.

Sasha Ponappa (she/her), a brown woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing a Fund Deaf Organizations t-shirt, is seated in front of a window with various plants and artwork. She signs: This year, 2023, has been all about evolution: changing our name, infrastructure, and funding practice.

Why the change to our funding practice? This was a very natural transition from 2022 and 2023’s capacity building grant program, in which we saw firsthand how much deaf organizations needed space to make their own decisions about where money moved within. Aligning DOF with trust-based philanthropy and its principles helped us shift from capacity building to an unrestricted grant program, with organizations being invited in fall of 2023 to simply tell us their areas of greatest need.

These nonprofits that care for our deaf communities, providing meaningful inclusion and accessible services, often don't conform to the funding interests of traditional philanthropy. While nearly half of all DOF applicants to date somehow subsist on less than $100K annually, just 2% of mainstream grants are made to disability organizations. This is why DOF is so very necessary, and why we are honored to have you join in our work.

In 2023, we were immensely proud to support five amazing deaf organizations through our 2023 Capacity Building Grant. Please read on to learn about their work. Thank you for being part of our efforts to strengthen deaf organizations nationwide.

- Sasha Ponappa
Sasha Ponappa (she/her), a brown woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing a Fund Deaf Organizations t-shirt, is seated in front of a window with various plants and artwork. She signs: This year, 2023, has been all about evolution: changing our name, infrastructure, and funding practice.

Dear friends,

This year has been all about evolution: changing our name, our infrastructure and our funding practice. These changes were all made with one of DOF’s values in mind: the importance of adapting to community-led needs and feedback.

So, why the name change? Previously known as CSD Unites Community Foundation, we became the Deaf Organizations Fund (DOF). It’s been our hope that this new name more explicitly reflects our mission, which remains steadfast: strengthening organizations working with deaf communities.

Why the infrastructure change? We became a subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) and are awaiting 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status of our own. This brings us one step closer to being a fully community-led philanthropic entity. After all, the ripple effect of funding and resourcing these amazing deaf-centric organizations ultimately reverberates among our own deaf communities.

Why the change to our funding practice? This was a very natural transition from 2022 and 2023’s capacity building grant program, in which we saw firsthand how much deaf organizations needed space to make their own decisions about where money moved within. Aligning DOF with trust-based philanthropy and its principles helped us shift from capacity building to an unrestricted grant program, with organizations being invited in fall of 2023 to simply tell us their areas of greatest need.

These nonprofits that care for our deaf communities, providing meaningful inclusion and accessible services, often don't conform to the funding interests of traditional philanthropy. While nearly half of all DOF applicants to date somehow subsist on less than $100K annually, just 2% of mainstream grants are made to disability organizations. This is why DOF is so very necessary, and why we are honored to have you join in our work.

In 2023, we were immensely proud to support five amazing deaf organizations through our 2023 Capacity Building Grant. Please read on to learn about their work. Thank you for being part of our efforts to strengthen deaf organizations nationwide.

- Sasha Ponappa

Grant Recipients

Blue outline of the United States map

Asian Signers,
National

Teal and purple Asian Signers logo
White outline in the shape of the state of California

DeafHope,
California

Dark and light purple DeafHope logo
White outline of the State of New York

Deaf Refugee 
Advocacy,
New York

Blue, teal, and yellow Deaf Refugee Advocacy logo
Blue outline of the United States map

National Black
Deaf Advocates,
National

Blue, teal, and yellow Deaf Refugee Advocacy logo
White outline of the State of Massachusetts map

Our Deaf Survivors
Center, Inc.,
Massachusetts

Pink and green Our Deaf Survivors Center, Inc. logo
Teal and purple Asian Signers logo

As a Deaf-led national nonprofit organization, Asian Signers promotes the recognition of diverse Asian representation with a commitment to culture, literature, and education in American Sign Language.

The DOF grant gave Asian Signers the ability to purchase software needed to enhance their team's organization and communication, and to coordinate professional development opportunities. This work will enable Asian Signers’ staff to focus primarily on their mission of strengthening Deaf Asian representation for years to come.

Dark and light purple DeafHope logo

Based in CA, DeafHope’s mission is to end domestic and sexual violence in Deaf communities through empowerment, education, and services.

DeafHope, a repeat grantee, used DOF funding to meet with a financial management consultant and received in-depth coaching to support their vision of financial health for their organization. DeafHope received the first significant contribution to their new endowment fund which brings them one step closer to sustaining their work for years to come.

Blue, teal, and yellow Deaf Refugee Advocacy logo

Deaf Refugee Advocacy (DRA) provides deaf community members in Rochester, NY who are refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers the following services: educational programs, citizenship support, advocacy, and social events.

DRA, a previous grantee, recently evolved from a volunteer-run organization to having paid staff and an office. With DOF funding, DRA was able to successfully develop a robust technological infrastructure to streamline their operations which in turn helped them serve their clients more effectively and reliably.

Blue, teal, and yellow Deaf Refugee Advocacy logo

National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) is an entity with over 30 chapters committed to improving the quality of life and well-being of Black Deaf, Black Deafblind, and Black Hard of Hearing community members all over the U.S.

With DOF funds, they gathered the necessary data to support several chapters with their IRS tax-exempt applications and plan to host 501(c)3 compliance training. This work allows state chapters to receive grants and donations, strengthening NBDA’s ability to support their local communities.

Pink and green Our Deaf Survivors Center, Inc. logo

Our Deaf Survivors Center, Inc. (ODSC) provides domestic violence and sexual assault services to Deaf survivors throughout the state of Massachusetts.

ODSC recently went through a significant organizational change and as a part of their strategic planning efforts, ODSC addressed financial management, grant management, and board development. These efforts will strengthen their ability to operate for years to come.

Grantee Reflections

VIDEO DESCRIPTION:

Aracelia is a Latinx woman with long dark curly hair pulled back into a ponytail. She is wearing a velvet short sleeved top that is black with white dots. She is seated in front of a plain white wall.

TRANSCRIPT:

DeafHope is committed to healing communities, ending violence through transformative, community-based strategies. Deaf Organizations Fund is a critical partner in our work.

With a shared language and cultural understanding, they are able to support deaf services in unique ways. They are also implementing innovative, restorative approaches to philanthropy with potential to generate widespread change.

This includes removing barriers to the application process, making it simple and accessible. They make grant reporting about connection and deep understanding of the work they are funding, without putting any burden on us. These strategies allow us to focus on the important work they are funding, rather than the work of grant management.

Deaf Organizations Fund is setting a new standard in philanthropic leadership and we are very grateful for this new approach and change in traditional expectations in funding for organizations.
VIDEO DESCRIPTION:

Diana Pryntz, Executive Director, is a white deaf woman with shoulder length, curly brown with a bit of gray hair, wearing dark purple glasses and a black v-neck blouse. There is a blue wall behind her. She is seated on a chair that is red with black lines partially visible.

TRANSCRIPT:

Deaf Refugee Advocacy (DRA) in Rochester, NY provides services: education and case management for deaf people that settle here from other countries.

As the executive director for DRA, it is my responsibility to seek monies to support our mission. Filling out grant paperwork is a routine task that I must do.

DOF’s application process and requirements is really unique because everything is in ASL, which is really special.

There were two significant benefits from my experiences to applying to DOF.

1 – There was no need to explain the impact of our deafness, language acquisition, or language deprivation. Instead, I was able to focus on our organization’s financial needs.

2- We had direct communication with DOF. There was no need for interpreters and no concern if the ASL interpreter was translating the information properly.

Overall it was a real pleasure to be able to work directly with DOF to obtain the needed funds; I really appreciate that wonderful and unique organization.
VIDEO DESCRIPTION:

Lee Ann Tang (she, her, hers), CEO, is a light-skinned Asian American Deaf woman with long auburn hair wearing a light gray polo shirt with the Asian Signers logo on the top left. She is standing in front of a blue wall with gold border.

Justin Cha (he, him, his), Director of Operations, is a light-skinned Korean deaf male with short black hair, wearing silver-framed glasses and a light gray polo shirt with the Asian Signers logo on the top left. He is standing in front of a black background.

TRANSCRIPT:

Lee Ann: Asian Signers is an Asian-owned and Deaf-led nonprofit organization focusing on education and elevating diverse representations of Asians and Asian Americans in ASL. Asian Signers is based in the United States.

Our organization’s platform includes providing access to signed educational content, such as Asian literature for youth. Our relationship with diverse Asian communities has strengthened the visibility of the Asian Deaf mosaic!

Justin: The DOF grant allowed our organization to continue to be able to work collaboratively using teamwork applications like Slack; to receive professional development training, such as anti-racism; and to obtain necessary tools and software to support creating content in ASL.
Our rapport with DOF has been a blissful experience because they can fully understand Deaf-centric professionals. They’ve also been a great support to organizations of color like us – supporting us in raising the bar, overcoming our invisibility, as well as tapping into our diverse Asian diaspora network.

In addition, their check-ins and interactions with us have been amazing, such as discussing our reports and sharing tips with us.

Lee Ann: The experience and process of receiving a grant from DOF was very smooth. One thing we were impressed with is the language inclusiveness and choices: written English, Spanish, and ASL. We were very surprised and grateful that we were one of the selected grantees. What we liked the most is that we had the opportunity to video meet to be able to discuss the grant agreement and later aspects of the grant. We felt comfortable asking questions without hesitation. The agreement was very clear and transparent.

Justin: We continue to challenge ourselves in learning how to operate, to manage a grant, and to sustain our organization using a healthy approach. With the DOF grant, it opens our eyes to think about what our goals are for the next five years.. Or the next 10 years.

Financials

Deaf Organizations Fund (DOF) became a subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) in April 2023 and is currently pending tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. We are extremely grateful to our parent organization and fiscal sponsor; CSD currently finances 100% of DOF’s operations, including personnel, technology, travel, and access to professional development opportunities. All funds raised are restricted to DOF and are designated towards DOF’s charitable work in providing accessible grants and resources for deaf nonprofits. In 2023 we are thrilled to have raised over $160,000.

In January 2023, DOF awarded $100,000 in grants amongst five deaf-centric organizations. All other funds raised in 2023 were dedicated to growing our endowment fund, or designated toward our fifth grant program distributed in January 2024.

2023 Revenue:

  • Unrestricted: $42,239
  • Grants Program: $25,928
  • Endowment Fund: $91,903

Notes of Gratitude

Our team is immensely grateful to our donors and business/organization partners for their generous support of DOF’s work.

Together, we will one day realize the vision of deaf communities having access to a wide array of services provided by thriving, well-resourced organizations!
DOF team members Dan, Sasha, and Avi have their arms around each other’s shoulders and are smiling. They’re wearing “Strong Organizations, Strong Communities” teal t-shirts.
Image Description: DOF team members Dan, Sasha, and Avi have their arms around each other’s shoulders and are smiling. They’re wearing “Strong Organizations, Strong Communities” teal t-shirts.
Orange and black RIT/National Technical Institute for the Deaf logo
Orange and purple ZVRS/Purple logo

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Deaf Organizations Fund, formerly known as CSD Unites Community Foundation, is fiscally sponsored by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD).
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