Category Archives: Philanthropy

A Look Back at the Extraordinary History of Best Buddies

A Look Back at the Extraordinary History of Best Buddies

bestbuddies logoFor nearly 30 years, the international non-profit organization Best Buddies has been working to promote inclusiveness and to end the social, physical, and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Read on for a look back at some of the most important milestones from Best Buddies’ history, as well as some of the influential moments and events that led to the organization’s founding.

1962—In an article published in the Saturday Evening Post, Eunice Kennedy Shriver shared the story of her older sister Rosemary, who was born with intellectual and developmental disabilities. While Shriver had already been an active advocate for IDD rights for many years, this article proved to be an important step forward in bringing disability rights issues into mainstream awareness, and in championing the cause of community integration and inclusion over institutionalization for people with IDD.

1963—Originally titled the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (DD Act), the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy. This piece of legislation authorized federal grants for the construction of public and/or non-profit community health centers intended to serve people with IDD.

1973—With the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, individuals with disabilities were, for the first time, protected from discrimination based on their ability level.

1975—Under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, all public schools receiving federal funding were required to provide equal access to education, as well as one free meal daily, for children with mental and physical disabilities.

1987—Anthony Kennedy Shriver, the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded the first Best Buddies Chapter at Georgetown University. The original program followed a similar model to the Big Brothers Big Sisters program; Anthony Shriver had volunteered as a Big Brother for a number of years prior to starting Best Buddies.

1988—This year saw the adoption of the now-iconic Best Buddies logo: a brightly-colored graphic featuring two individuals in a friendly embrace. The logo was created by the pop artist Keith Haring, who donated it to Best Buddies in honor of one of his own family members living with special needs.

1989—Best Buddies was officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization on January 19th. With this designation, the organization became the first in the United States to offer a national, unified, social, and recreational program for people with IDD.

1990—In a watershed moment for the disability rights movement, President George Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law in 1990. A wide-ranging civil rights law offering broad protection against discrimination for people with any form of disability, the ADA still serves as the benchmark for disability legislation in the US.

1993—Just a few short years after its official incorporation, Best Buddies launched what would be the first of many new programs and initiatives intended to serve and support people with IDD. 1993 saw the introduction of Best Buddies Citizens, which paired adults with IDD with non-disabled working peers.

1994—Best Buddies Jobs launched in Florida, California, and Massachusetts. With the goal of fulfilling one of the organization’s key priorities—integrated employment—Best Buddies Jobs worked to place people with IDD in well-paid, meaningful corporate jobs.

1995—Best Buddies High Schools was launched. This innovative program sought to promote meaningful friendships between special education students and high school volunteers without IDD: the program matched students in one-on-one relationships supported by Best Buddies staff.

1996—Following up on the success of Best Buddies High Schools, a middle school version was launched as a pilot program. By targeting a younger age group, this initiative hoped to instill important principles like inclusion and acceptance early on, thus transforming societal norms around disability for the next generation.

1999—In response to the rapid growth of digital technology and the Internet, Best Buddies launched e-Buddies, its innovative e-mail pen pal program, in 1999.

2000—The inaugural Best Buddies Challenge, a fundraising bicycle race and walk/run event, was held in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

2003—This was a year for Best Buddies to celebrate the scope of its reach: as of 2003, the organization had participants on six continents and in all 50 US states.

2009—This year saw the establishment of Best Buddies Friendship Walks, an important fundraising and awareness-building event that now takes place nationwide, year-round.

2010—Signed into law by President Barack Obama, Rosa’s Law marked an important step forward in disability terminology. Under Rosa’s Law, the term “mental retardation” was replaced by “intellectual disability” in a number of federal laws. This year also marked the passage of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Act, under which Best Buddies was authorized to receive federal funding.

2011—The Best Buddies Ambassadors program was launched with the goal of boosting the public speaking and advocacy skills of people with IDD and their allies.

2014—Two important pieces of disability legislation were passed this year: the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which requires all workforce programs to include opportunities for people with disabilities; and the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, under which people with disabilities are permitted to create tax-free savings for qualified expenses including education and housing.

March of Dimes Celebrates Important New Research Partnership

March of Dimes Celebrates Important New Research Partnership

The fight to end preterm birth and to ensure that all babies have a healthy start in life got an important boost earlier this year with the announcement of a new March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Imperial College London. Read on to learn more about this exciting research partnership dedicated to understanding and… Read More…

Meet the Amazing Finalists of the Storytellers Initiative

Meet the Amazing Finalists of the Storytellers Initiative

Elysium Bandini Studios, the innovative philanthropic studio and streaming platform from the art and social change non-profit organization The Art of Elysium, is thrilled to announce that three amazing finalists have been selected for the 2018 Storytellers Initiative. The Storytellers Initiative competition was first launched several years ago by Elysium Bandini Studios; Parallel Entertainment, a… Read More…

How to Start Exercising – Helpful Tips for Seniors

How to Start Exercising – Helpful Tips for Seniors

While regular physical activity can help to maintain your well-being and fitness at any age, experts agree that it’s especially important for seniors and older adults. According to numerous studies, consistent exercise helps slow down and/or reduce the impact of a number of age-related conditions. For instance, it reduces the risk of heart attack and… Read More…

Big Brothers Big Sisters – Awesome Things to Do with Your “Little”

Big Brothers Big Sisters – Awesome Things to Do with Your “Little”

If you’ve made the decision to become a “Big” with Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles (JBBBSLA), you’re in for an experience that many other Bigs have described as life-changing. Watching your “Little” grow and discover new things about themselves and their abilities is immensely rewarding, and Bigs often report that spending time… Read More…

5 Awesome Ways You Can Celebrate National Volunteer Week

5 Awesome Ways You Can Celebrate National Volunteer Week

Every April for more than 40 years, Americans have celebrated National Volunteer Week. Established by an executive order from President Richard Nixon in 1974, National Volunteer Week is the nation’s opportunity to recognize and commend the millions of Americans – more than 62 million in 2014-2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – who… Read More…

A Look Back at the Amazing Life of amfAR’s Founding Chairperson

A Look Back at the Amazing Life of amfAR’s Founding Chairperson

Earlier this year, the worldwide fight against AIDS lost one of its most dedicated champions. Dr. Mathilde Krim, the founding chairperson of the AIDS research organization amfAR and a pioneering scientist and public heath advocate, passed away peacefully at home on January 15, 2018. Read on for a look back at her extraordinary life and… Read More…