ICI Partners with the International Disability Alliance and the African Disability Forum on International Fellowship Program


For immediate release: January 10, 2024

BOSTON, MA – The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Boston, in collaboration with the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and the African Disability Forum (ADF), has been awarded a grant from the US Department of State to launch the third round (FY 2023) of the Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement. This program, designed for emerging leaders in East Africa, aims to facilitate exchange and implementation of best practices for disability-inclusive civic engagement.

The program will support approximately 12 mid-career disability rights professionals (Fellows) from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia to participate in a 5-week intensive Fellowship Program in Spring 2025. The program includes a placement with US host organizations to enhance leadership and professional skills.

Each Fellow will be individually matched with a US host organization based on shared professional interests and goals to ensure a meaningful exchange. The focus of the Fellowship will be on a key policy or practice issue related to disability and civic engagement in their respective home countries. Fellows will collaborate with US colleagues to design individual project action plans, which they will implement upon return to their home countries. US hosts may also visit East Africa to provide technical assistance, supporting Fellows' projects and fostering ongoing collaboration.

Program Director Dr. Heike Boeltzig-Brown from the ICI shared:

"We’re honored and excited to continue this important program in new partnership with the IDA and the African Disability Forum to provide opportunities for the next generation of African disability leaders committed to inclusive civic engagement. As the continental membership organization of Disabled Persons’ Organizations in Africa, ADF brings unparalleled expertise and connections to this partnership, further strengthening the existing partner consortium composed of ICI, Humanity & Inclusion, and the network of Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) members."

ADF Executive Director Shuaib Chalklen emphasized:

"ADF looks forward to the collaboration with UMass Boston and the invaluable opportunities that this program offers to the Fellows. It is also an opportunity for ADF to work with a new partner in UMass Boston, and we are optimistic about exploring additional avenues for collaboration in the future."

The Professional Fellows Program on Inclusive Civic Engagement reflects the partners’ shared commitment to building sustainable partnerships that promote fully inclusive civic societies for people with disabilities.

About the Institute for Community Inclusion

The Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI) is a University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) based at the University of Massachusetts Boston and Boston Children's Hospital. ICI supports the rights of children and adults with disabilities to participate in all aspects of society. As practitioners, researchers, and teachers, we form partnerships with individuals, families, community organizations, and service agencies. Together, we advocate for personal choice, self-determination, and social and economic justice.

About the African Disability Forum

The African Disability Forum (ADF) is the continental membership organization of Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs) in Africa. Established in 2014, ADF aims to strengthen and unify the representative voices of Africans with disabilities, their families, and organizations. Acknowledging the vast regional diversity of the African continent, ADF recognizes the impossibility for any single organization to fully represent such diversity directly. Therefore, ADF actively incorporates and builds upon existing pan-African, sub-regional, and national federations of DPOs and networks.

About UMass Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city's history yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s colleges and graduate schools serve 16,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.


Dr. Heike Boeltzig-Brown, Program Director, Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI)

Quinn Barbour, Senior Marketing and Communications Specialist Manager, Institute for Community Inclusion

US Department of State