Partners in Policymaking
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Welcome to Partners!

In May 1987, the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities created a ground-breaking, innovative training program called Partners in Policymaking® to teach parents and self-advocates the power of advocacy, and change the way people with disabilities are supported, viewed, taught, live and work. On the 25th Anniversary of the Partners program, celebrated on May 10, 2012, in addition to celebrating the occasion, it was important to recognize that important issues had been confronted and dramatic changes had been made. At that time, there were 21,000 Partners graduates in the United States and 2,000 Partners graduates internationally.

Partners in Policymaking® Class 33 Recruitment is Underway!

The dates have been finalized. Sessions begin the weekend of September 25-26, 2015 (Friday and Saturday) with graduation the weekend of May 13-14, 2016. It's not too soon to think about participating in this leadership training program, and joining more than 27,000 individuals, nationally and internationally, who are already part of an ever increasing network of Partners graduates. For more information: (4/7/15)

"Telling Your Story"

App Available Now for iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, and Kindle Fire

Compose and practice your personal story to present to elected public officials or other policymakers. Learn the best ways to introduce yourself and talk about your issue, record and practice your story, and include a photo if you would like.

The iPad version of the app for iOS7 or older is available free at the iTunes Store*.

The iPhone/iPod Touch version for iOS 7 or older is also available free at the iTunes Store*.

The Kindle Fire HD version is available at

The Android tablet version is available free from Google Play

The Android phone version is available free from Google Play

*Important Notice: The recent Apple update to iOS 8 has caused crashing issues in the iPhone and iPad versions of the "Telling Your Story" and "Autism Help! (5-Point Emergency Planning)" apps. If you have these apps installed and have updated your device to iOS 8, we are aware of the issues and will be issuing an update soon. Users of iOS 7 and earlier may continue to use the app with no problems. A separate notice will be issued when the iOS 8 compatible update is available at the iTunes App Store. Google Play and Kindle versions are unaffected.

Telling Your Story Telling Your Story
Starting a Partners Program
Forms for Getting Started
Supplemental Resources

Supplemental Readings

  • HISTORY: Additional insights into the origins and evolution of institutions, the rise of the institutional model, and the realities of congregated, segregated, and isolated living conditions; and the movements that challenged perceptions and changed the thinking about individuals with disabilities.
  • INCLUSIVE EDUCATION: General resources about special education and state specific resources about related issues. Inclusive education covers transition and post secondary education.
  • THE COUNTY (LOCAL GOVERNMENT) ROLE IN DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES: Programs, services, and supports available to individuals with developmental disabilities and families (state specific) and delivered by the county/local government; a few national resources are included.
  • PERSONAL LIVING, AND SUPPORTED AND CUSTOMIZED EMPLOYMENT: The full range of housing options, housing rights, and universal design are included as well as job searching and finding employment in diverse business environments from an employee/employer perspective.
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZING: The concepts and principles behind community organizing are at the heart of systems change, and take into account the many skills and abilities that each person brings to the neighborhood and community for the common good of all.
  • STATE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS: A citizenship government relies on the partnerships and relationships of elected public officials and other policymakers, and their constituents to influence and realize positive systems change about state legislative issues.
  • FEDERAL ISSUES: Policies that affect individuals with developmental disabilities and families in all states require that partnerships and relationships are established and strengthened with members of a state's Congressional delegation.
  • GRADUATION – APPLYING THE PARTNERS EXPERIENCE: Tips, tools, and guidelines for making the best use of the new knowledge and practical skills acquired during the Partners program.
Online Training Courses

The Partners Online Training Courses have been converted to a Learning Management System (LMS), and are now available at Partnersinpolicymaking.

Please take the courses at this new address.

Digital Government Achievement Award

Partners in Making Your Case: Learn the critical skills to be an effective advocate for positive public policy changes that affect individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

Available in Spanish
Available in American Sign Language

Partners in Education: Learn about the history of education for children with developmental disabilities, the laws about special education and your children's rights, and how to navigate the special education system to best prepare your child(ren) for an independent future and employment.

Available in Spanish

Partners in Employment: Learn the practical skills to finding competitive employment, creating a resumé that reflects your skills and abilities, preparing for a successful job interview, and evaluating a job offer.

Available as an EZ Read version
Available in Spanish

Partners in Time: Learn how the successes, mistakes, and actions of earlier generations have shaped our world; how services, programs, and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families have evolved over time; and how to apply these past lessons to create a brighter future.

Available in Spanish

Partners in Living: Learn how to create a meaningful life for yourself by exploring four important elements – self determination, family support, community living, and assistive technology.

GCDD is committed to your privacy when taking these e-learning courses. Click here to review our Privacy Policy.

Activities and Highlights

The Delaware Developmental Disabilities Council created a Junior Partners in Policymaking program for young adults with and without disabilities, ages 15-22. A Delaware newspaper published this article about the program.

In this talk radio show interview, Dan Habib speaks about the impact that Partners in Policymaking had on his life. Dan is the director and producer of the documentary, Including Samuel.

The Delaware Partners in Policymaking program offers a similar program for young adults. These Junior Partners graduates are organizing and strengthening their networks to assure that young adults have a voice in the schools and educational systems that are preparing them for their futures. Personalized learning and what makes a great education are not only their goals but sharing their teaching and learning with other students, teachers and parents to make a difference beyond the classroom walls. About Student Voice is creating an international network of empowered students and giving them the tools to use their voice in policy discussions and decisions.

Deborah Davis is a 2012 West Virginia Partners in Policymaking graduate. Her testimonial not only captures the many benefits she received from her Partners learning experience but sets out a Plan of Action that conveys both challenges and an inspirational message.

Ellen Coulston, a Delaware Partners graduate, is helping to make sure that students with disabilities are equipped with the self advocacy skills and positive attitudes to achieve their personal life goals.

Shelby Nurse and her dad, Florida residents, were keynote co-presenters at the Assistive Technology Employment Summit in Bethesda, Maryland on May 8, 2013. Shelby's story is another example of the value and benefits of the Partners in Policymaking program, and how assistive technology is changing lives and making so many personal life goals a reality for individuals with disabilities. A snapshot of Shelby's college life is available at

A person centered planning approach, Circles of Support, led to meaningful action plans and very positive differences in the lives of two individuals with developmental disabilities in the United Kingdom.

See All Activities and Highlights >>

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