National Disability Institute (NDI) invites applications from qualified candidates to apply for a six-month paid virtual fellowship. Candidates should have an interest in helping advance public policy development at a federal and state level to promote financial health and wellbeing for people with disabilities and their families.
Since 2016, NDI research has documented that Black, Native/Indigenous, and Latino/Latinx/Latine communities experience the greatest disparities in educational attainment, employment, earnings, economic, and banking status. Additionally, disabled people living at intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality experience higher levels of medical debt, housing instability, and food insecurity. Intersecting systems of marginalization create and exacerbate further discrimination in our society that has lingering and long-term effects on financial stability and economic inequity. To learn more, visit the NDI website section on race, ethnicity, and disability.
The Public Policy Fellow will bring an intersectional framework to the review and analysis of existing laws and regulations, including the development of new proposals that must recognize the systemic challenges that multiply marginalized people with disabilities face.
The opportunity to be an NDI Public Policy Fellow offers multiple benefits in addition to the financial stipend. You will have the unique opportunity to join a dynamic community of individual staff at NDI working in collaboration with representatives of other national disability organizations, congressional staff, and federal agency representatives to shape and advance a disability and economic justice and equity agenda. The fellowship will enable you to develop your research, writing, and analytical skills that apply your lived experience to shape public policy development. You will also gain new insights and perspective on the challenges and complexities of educating policymakers and other federal decision makers to bring forward new proposals and amend existing programs based on compelling evidence presented through quantitative and qualitative data. After the fellowship, you will be well positioned to seek further opportunities in disability and economic policy analysis and advocacy.
Two applicants will be chosen for 2023. The fellows will be supervised by Lydia X. Z. Brown, NDI’s Director of Public Policy, with further assistance and support from NDI’s Executive Director, Tom Foley, and other NDI staff. The length of the fellowship will be six months (24 weeks) during 2023. The time commitment is expected to be 20 hours per week with actual schedule negotiated on an individual basis. The fellowship will offer a paid stipend of $20 per hour to a total of 9,600 over the 24-week period.
National Disability Institute is a national nonprofit that has been a leading voice to increase awareness and understanding of financial challenges and economic disparities that adversely impact people with disabilities, with particular attention to disabled people who are multiply marginalized. Our strategies for promoting individual and systems change include public policy development, financial education, and testing intervention strategies through community partnerships that increase disabled people’s income production, savings, and asset accumulation.
- Monitor and track status of new pending legislative proposals at a federal and state level that have a potential impact on improving economic stability and financial health for individuals with disabilities and their families.
- Monitor legislative hearings and prepare summaries and analysis with recommendations for next steps of engagement.
- Conduct policy research on financial inclusion and advancing financial stability for working-age adults with disabilities with particular attention to new policy proposals including, but not limited to Child Savings Accounts (CSA), Universal Basic Income (UBI), Secure Choice, and expansion of federal and/or state favorable tax credits like Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC).
- Participate with NDI staff in disability coalition meetings to work collaboratively on educating and influencing policy development with Congress and federal regulators. Areas of focus may include, but not be limited to:
- implementation of and proposed changes to the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (ABLE), which creates a tax-advantaged savings account for qualified disability expenses;
- Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) rules development and implementation;
- financial product and service accessibility;
- efforts to change Social Security rules that improve opportunity to advance economic self-sufficiency;
- reform of asset and income limits impacting eligibility related to other public benefits for people with disabilities across the life span;
- efforts to end subminimum wage (commensurate wage) for people with disabilities and promote transition to competitive, integrated employment; and
- coverage of consumer protection laws and rules related to equal access to credit and fair housing opportunities for people with disabilities, especially with the rapidly changing landscape of algorithmic decision-making systems impacting applicants for credit and housing.
- Participate in meetings with federal agencies to garner support for promoting an improved financial health agenda through funded initiatives, cross-agency partnerships, and system change strategies.
- Contribute material based on online research and data collection and analysis to the NDI website, publications and social media outlets.
- Contribute research, drafting, and editing of NDI reports, policy briefs, and other written work product to advance NDI’s research and advocacy priorities.
- Maintain a detailed log of all activities and meet at least weekly with mentor and other NDI staff to assess progress and reach agreement on next steps.
- Prepare monthly policy newsletter and other written updates for dissemination to NDI staff, partners, and community members.
- Participate in monthly NDI public policy team calls.
Desired Skills and Qualities
- Strong verbal and written communication skills.
- Experience with qualitative or quantitative research methods and analysis.
- Demonstrated and documented interest in public policy development, poverty reduction, and economic justice for disabled people.
- Past record of engagement at a local, state, and/or federal level to educate policy makers about changes in existing laws or regulations or passage of new legislative proposals.
- Knowledge of and familiarity with the state or federal legislative or regulatory processes, including components such as the legislative calendar and public comment on proposed rulemaking activities.
- Lived experience with disability. People with disabilities, mental health conditions and chronic illnesses are strongly encouraged to apply.
- Lived experience with other marginalized communities. We invite you to describe how your specific identities and experiences shape your approach to public policy.
- No specific educational level or degree is required. Applications are welcome from candidates who do not have formal education, but who do have relevant experience and skills. Applications are also welcome from recent graduates of any academic program, people returning to the workforce, people transitioning between careers, and current students at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
- Reliable access to a computer or laptop with a strong internet connection.
People with disabilities and members of traditionally underrepresented groups encouraged to apply. NDI is an equal opportunity employer and an inclusive organization.
If you are interested in being considered for a public policy fellowship, please submit a cover letter and resume with two writing samples to Lydia X. Z. Brown (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kara Broadus (email@example.com) by March 12, 2023. Finalists will be interviewed and candidates will start in April.