Our Story

Recognizing the potential impact of a global human rights framework on the largest minority group in the world, the Disability Rights Fund was conceptualized as a response to the window of opportunity opened by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The CRPD is the first comprehensive human rights treaty of the 21st century.

It promotes a shift away from treating persons with disabilities as “objects” of charity, medical treatment, and social protection, towards recognizing persons with disabilities as “subjects” with rights, capable of actively making decisions about their own lives.

For the first time ever persons with disabilities are included in the global development framework. The 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) “are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”. Our grantees include a focus on the SDGs in the work they do to further these goals.

In 2008, after a collaborative framing process between donors and the international disability community, the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) started operations as a pooled fund of multiple donors under the Tides Center. In 2012, DRF, and its sister organization, the Disability Rights Advocacy Fund, began operations as separate nonprofit organizations from the Tides Center. The initial framework document, built on dialogue from many stakeholders, can be read here.

Since its inception, we have expanded our work from an initial seven countries to 37 countries across six regions of the world. Parallel to this, states are taking action — in 2008, only 20 countries had ratified the CRPD. As of April 2020, 181 countries have ratified.

People with disabilities are being seen and heard like never before.

Our funding ensures that people with disabilities across the developing world will be active participants in achievement of these goals.