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Apply Now! | Partners in Policymaking Class 39

We are now accepting applications for the Partners in Policymaking Class 39 advocacy and leadership training program developed by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities.

What is Partners in Policymaking?

The Partners program was created by the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities 35 years ago and has been offered nationally and internationally. Through informative and interactive sessions, Partners teaches leadership skills and the process of developing positive partnerships with elected officials and other policymakers who make decisions about the services that you and/or your family use.

Partners is accessible, informative and empowering. Since 1987, more than 1,100 self-advocates and parents have graduated in Minnesota.

Who can apply?

The program is designed for parents of young children with developmental disabilities and adults with disabilities.

Class 39

The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities presents a new documentary, Hadamar: The Forgotten Holocaust, detailing Hitler's extermination of people with disabilities

The Partners in Policymaking® curriculum is grounded in the history of disabilities that dates back to 1500 B.C. This 3500 year history is filled with stories of dehumanization, discrimination and oppression of people with disabilities. In the 20th Century, Adolph Hitler ordered the killing of hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities in order to create a master race. Deaths occurred in various hospitals including Hadamar. This documentary entitled, Hadamar: The Forgotten Holocaust, was designed to serve as a supplement to the History presentation and competencies of Partners in Policymaking.

US Senator David Durenberger Reflects on the 30th Anniversary of the ADA

The Partners in Policymaking® curriculum is grounded in the federal outcomes of independence, productivity, self-determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII). The impetus for creating the Partners in Policymaking program came from a September 1986 hearing on Medicaid Reform chaired by US Senator David Durenberger. In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted and former US Senator David Durenberger was a co-sponsor. In this interview Senator Durenberger reflects on the 30th anniversary of the ADA. He discusses how personal stories influence policies; how people with disabilities became his friends and influences; how the ADA passed; and the impact of the ADA.

Senator Durenberger
US Senator David Durenberger

Remembering Al Fallenstein

Al Fallenstein became disabled in 1960. His family lived in the pre-ADA days, and he became a successful business person. When Senator Durenberger faced opposition to the ADA from the business community his friend, Al Fallenstein, assisted in getting legislation passed and was an influencer. He died while serving on the Health Care Cost Commission chaired by Senator Durenberger in 2003.

The "Telling Your Story" App Has Been Updated

We are pleased to announce the release of an updated and simplified version of the "Telling Your Story" app.  In six easy steps, create your personal story, tell how a policy issue affects you or your family, add a photo, and send  your message directly to your elected public official.

iOS Version for iPhone and iPad available from the App Store

Android version for phone and tablet available from Google Play

Telling Your Story Banner

Partners Class 37 Has Graduated

American Idol Finalist Sends Congratulations to Partners Graduates

Grace Leer, American Idol finalist, prepared a video message of congratulations for graduates of Class 37 Partners in Policymaking.  This message can be shared with all Partners in Policymaking graduates in 2020.

This has been a year of tremendous change. Individually and collectively, you have gained a wealth of new knowledge about the history, and the evolution of policies and practices in the developmental disabilities field. You have acquired skills in how to best educate and communicate with your elected officials to advance positive public policies for individuals with developmental disabilities and families. You have learned from and taught each other how to navigate delivery systems, and created and strengthened your personal networks.

Hi, Partners graduates. I'm Grace Leer from "American Idol," and I wanted to send my sincere congratulations to you guys for completing this extraordinary program. You guys did it. Congratulations. I'm so proud of all of you and especially for just staying focused during such a crazy time with this pandemic going around the world.

It takes a lot of dedication and focus and hard work to get this done, so you guys did it. Congratulations.

And I know that my Uncle Rob had let you guys know that I would be competing on season 18 of "American Idol," and he urged you guys to jump on Team Grace and follow along my journey and support me. And you guys did more than that. You guys seriously changed my life, and I could not have done it without your guys' support and your love week after week. I am just so grateful.

And now you guys are taking the reins as you take the lessons you've learned from this partners program and take it into the world and really apply what you've learned here. The work really doesn't stop. It's just beginning. And I just want you guys to never let someone tell you you can't do something. You can do it. And take those risks to get things done.

I am proof of that. I was scared, and I have been told no so many times in the music industry, but I still went and auditioned for "American Idol," and it truly changed my life. So just like you guys cheered me on and rooted for me throughout this season of "American Idol," I am rooting for you, sending my congratulations to you guys all the way from Nashville, Tennessee.

Congratulations, Partners graduates of 2020. You guys did it. Now go out there and continue the work, and I am just sending all my love to you guys. Congrats.

Partners Class 37 Graduates: Photo Gallery

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National Public Radio Recognizes the Partners in Policymaking® Program

Joe Shapiro, Investigative Reporter for National Public Radio, visited with Class 35 Partners in Policymaking participants during their graduation weekend May 18-19, 2018. He interviewed participants about their Partners experience, the policy issues concerning them, and how to work most effectively with their elected officials to create positive public policies for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, Teaching Parents of Kids with Disabilities to Fight Back

Partners in Policymaking® Program


Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook

In celebration of the 45th Anniversary of the Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities, we are pleased to announce the release of the newly revised and updated Partners in Policymaking® Coordinator's Handbook.

This is the eighth edition of the Handbook, designed to help Coordinators who are starting or restarting a Partners program as well as serve as a resource for Coordinators to maintain the quality of existing programs. The online learning courses have been incorporated into the curriculum, offering participants another avenue to strengthen and enrich their classroom experience.

This version is fully accessible and incorporates all current accessibility features. (8/23/16)

Changing Lives, Changing Policies

Download and Read the Handbook >>

Partners Evaluation Reports >>

Forms Related to Replication of the Partners Classroom Program:
Partners Profile Form
Time Match Form
Respite Care/Child Care Reimbursement Form
Participant Reimbursement Request Form
Sample Partners Application
Session Evaluation
Sample Participation Agreement

Partners in Policymaking®
Changing Lives. Changing Policies.

Since the Partners program was created in Minnesota in 1987, more than 27,000 self advocates and parents of children with developmental disabilities have graduated nationally and internationally. They comprise a network of trained advocates and leaders, working in partnership with their elected officials to positively change the way people with disabilities live, work, and are educated; and enjoy the benefits of being actively involved in their communities.

On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), this book traces the history of the Partners program. Through a collection of stories and testimonials, Partners graduates share the impact of the program on their lives as well as the many ways that the ADA has resulted in their greater inclusion and integration into the community and society at large. (7/28/15)

Download and read the book (accessible PDF)

Changing Lives, Changing Policies
The Disability Justice Resource Center

The Disability Justice Resource Center

An online resource for everyone interested in learning more about the rights of people with developmental disabilities and protection of those rights. This online resource is divided into three sections: Justice Denied, Basic Legal Rights, and Working with People with Developmental Disabilities in the Justice System.

Disability Justice Center Faculty   Video Index


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