Our Newsletter

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  • Tue, November 14, 2017 7:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How do you make an already premier leadership event for Down syndrome leaders even more exciting and popular? We picked the top 7 reasons why this year's DSAIA Leadership Conference will be the most influential, most fun event for DS organizations and leaders that you probably don't know about.

    1. We're kicking things off Friday morning with an inspirational and thoughtful keynote by renowned speaker and special education advocate, Chris Ulmer.

    2. DSAIA has partnered with Global Down Syndrome Foundation, which will host a pre-conference symposium of latest trends and developments in Down syndrome research and medicine at the renowned Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome. 

    3. Not only does Denver offer 300 days of sunshine, a thriving cultural scene, diverse neighborhoods, and boundless natural beauty, it's so much more fun in the wintertime!

    4. Donor-driven leaders will satisfy their hunger for all-things development with a full-day of intensive fundraising intervention. Sandy Rees, the brilliant fundraising brain of GetFullyFunded will present this exciting, new all-day workshop.

    5. As partner and lead sponsor of the DSAIA Leadership Conference, Global Down Syndrome Foundation has promised a host of surprises and special opportunities just for DSAIA member leaders. We promise not to prolong the suspense too much.

    6. You already know about the early-bird registration deal. What you may not know is that you can turn that early-bird savings into even more cool stuff! Room upgrades, VIP seating, exclusive opportunities and gift cards are all up for grabs when you register before Dec. 1.

    7. We're celebrating the mile-high ski culture at the Thursday night opening reception, which will sufficiently immerse you in the ski-lodge spirit of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. 

  • Tue, November 14, 2017 12:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Giving Tuesday is Nov. 28 - less than two weeks away. This day has garnered a lot of national attention over the years, and many nonprofits and charities across the country plan their campaigns for months and are now gearing up for their hallmark end-of-year giving campaign. 

    If you've already been planning for Giving Tuesday, you've probably implemented these steps. But if you're like many local organizations that may be just starting to think about Giving Tuesday and end-of-year fundraising, these tips may be just what you need to inspire your success.

    1. Set a Goal. If you've got a goal, you're more likely to reach for it. Don't be overly ambitious if this is your first Giving Tuesday or you're coming late to the party. Do look at your budget and annual giving plan - is there a number that would get you closer to your annual goal?

    2. Don't reinvent the wheel. Use the Giving Tuesday resources already avaiable online. Visit, which is chock-full of resources, results from previous years, case studies, and more. Their toolkit has ideas, logos and branding materials, videos, and more. They also regularly update their blog with examples from other organizations that participated in #GivingTuesday, general announcements, and best practices.

    3. Start promoting today and ride the momentum. Whether you start planning for Giving Tuesday in March or November, you need to let your community know as soon as possible, especially if you've only got two weeks to generate some buzz. Pre-write your next 14 days of communication, including social media posts, blog articles, emails, mission-moment stories, and phone call scripts. Ask your families to join the campaign and share your information with their friends and family. Be creative - this is a great time to try out new and different fundraising strategies and platforms. 

    4. Make it Personal. Especially at this late stage, you need to get personal with your greatest mission enthusiasts. This is a time to check in with your donors, wish them an early "Happy Holidays," and show them how their existing support is serving your mission - be specific. Send a personal email or hand-written note; a phone call is even better for showing top tier donors their value. Your message should include a nugget about participating in Giving Tuesday and how Giving Tuesday donations will support the individuals with Down syndrome in your community. 

    When it comes to the holiday season, kick off this end-of-year giving push with a knock-out Giving Tuesday and you'll be making your New Year's toasts to fundraising success.

  • Tue, November 14, 2017 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Make the most of your budget process with DSAIA tools, tips and resources

    DSAIA has compiled the resources you need to make your 2018 budgeting effective and as painless as possible. 

    "Free for Everyone" Articles

    Premium Members Only Content

    Find a featured list of budgeting tools, articles and videos in S.T.A.C.K.S, including these and other useful resources.

    • Year-end checklist (video and documents)
    • Sample nonprofit budget (template)
    • Budgeting: A Guide for Nonprofits (article)
    • Balance Sheet Cheat Sheet (link)
    • Nonprofit Budgets Have a Balance. False! (article)

    Access this premium content and more when you become a DSAIA member.

  • Mon, September 11, 2017 7:28 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    One of the most important "jobs" that a Down syndrome association has is providing information and training to educators. A useful tool is a newsletter created just for teachers, complete with the latest information/research and resources/tools that will help in teaching students with Down syndrome. However, at DSAIA we know that your resources are already spread thin and this type of communication can be time-consuming to create. DSAIA members are always up to the challenge, though, and eager to collaborate to bring a much-needed resource to other members.

    Several DSAIA members who focus on education came together a few months ago to create our Education Newsletter especially for use in communicating with teachers and other staff. Led by Kim Owens of Down Syndrome Association of Greater Richmond, the work group collected resources and designed a product that allows for other DSAIA members to drop in their logo and upcoming events. "We hope this newsletter will help you in reaching out to the education professionals to show them that your DSA is ready to support educators with information and questions they may have about educating their student with Down syndrome," said Owens.

    Look for more information on this resource in your inbox next week!  

  • Mon, September 11, 2017 7:19 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How many babies with Down syndrome are born in the U.S. annually? According to Dr. Brian Skotko, Board-certified medical geneticist and co-director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, new research suggests that conventional wisdom of Down syndrome prevalence numbers has indeed changed. Skotko explains more in the latest DSAIA Live! podcast.

    The new data shows in 2011, there were 1 in 800 live births of babies with Down syndrome, which is about 5,000 babies with Down syndrome born annually. The research also calculated the reduction rate for that year at 32%, which means that an estimated 3,300 were not born due to elective terminations. A fact sheet containing all of the newly compiled data is available for download online.

    Dr. Skotko explains in the podcast that because these new numbers area a change from previous prevalence data, DSAs around the country should update their fact sheets and awareness materials. "We all need to be using the same numbers," says Dr. Skotko.

    To listen to the full interview with Dr. Skotko, go to the DSAIA Live! podcast page.

  • Thu, August 10, 2017 12:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    From visionary ideas to practical management tips, Down syndrome organization leaders know that no other conference comes close to providing the useful tools and knowledge that the annual DSAIA Leadership Conference offers. As a speaker at the annual event, you can be an integral part of bringing top-level training and networking opportunities to DSA leaders from across the nation.

    Attendees come from large and small organizations, veteran and start ups. That's why it is so important to offer a variety of topics and learning levels. It's also why we carefully vet our speakers/presentations to make sure that the program is the best it can be, improving each year and bringing something for each type of attendee. 

    Learn more about what topics our members value and the process itself by clicking here.  Submissions are being accepted until the program is complete but all speakers will be notified by October 1, 2017, regardless of the status of the program.

  • Tue, May 09, 2017 1:25 PM | Deanna Tharpe (Administrator)

    (Full podcast interview available here.)

    Katie Mann and Annie Klark were on a mission: to break down the “4th Wall” of the theater to give access to individuals with disabilities. Meeting through the theater, their backgrounds (Klark’s in theater and Mann’s in special education) were just the right mix to create something incredible for the disability community all over the state of Michigan with 4th Wall Kids.

    And it all started with the Down Syndrome Guild of Southeast Michigan (DSGSEMI). The DSGSEMI was 4th Wall’s first client. Mann said that Paulette Duggins (DSGSEMI’s Executive Director) was willing to take that leap with them. "The program (and Katie and Annie) are amazing!" said Duggins. "What I find incredible is that this type of program allows each individual to showcase their uniqueness, their skills, letting them do what they are competent, confident and comfortable with." 

    When Mann and Klark saw individuals with disabilities come through their program, they immediately saw the need to create something more expansive in order for the larger population to attain access to theater.

    With no money to buy a theater, they opted instead to create a “mobile theater”, traveling to locations to hold their workshops. Little did they know how popular their “alternate” idea was. In 10 months, they had reached their 5-year goal.  Currently serving 104 organizations throughout the state of Michigan, they offer singing, acting, and dancing in each workshop as well as American Sign Language and modified movement. While they will write their own shows, they also have pre-written shows available for organizations.

    From one-hour workshops up to a 12-week program, organizations can start slow and progress to a larger and more involved program. And with their new company, 4th Wall Backstage, they are expanding internationally with pre-packaged workshop materials.

    A natural choice for building self-esteem and self-advocacy skills, Mann said that they saw this type of opportunity from the beginning. “We had seen [with the students in their home theater] the amount of growth they had experienced through the theater and how affirming it was and how empowering it was.” The pair also saw the benefits in terms of life skills such as maintaining eye contact and working together as a team to name a few. Klark said that they watch their performers’ confidence soar throughout the completion of a program.

    DSGSEMI's theater workshops were part of their "Our Rockin' Teens/Adults" program, which was recognized with an DSAIA Affiliates in Excellence Award earlier this year.

    DSAIA is partnering with 4th Wall Backstage to offer members a 20% discount off the pre-packaged resources. To learn more, visit our Discount Partner Page.

  • Tue, January 10, 2017 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress (MDSC) has built an employment initiative that engages employers and opens doors for good, meaningful jobs for the self-advocate members in their community. "Your Next Star" was launched two years ago and is a clarion call for employers to diversify their workforces by including people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

    "We're talking about the positive benefits that people with Down syndrome bring to an organization," said MDSC Communications Director Josh Komyerov. "They add to the organizational health of the employer. The organizational health of leadership, client satisfaction, motivation - all those things are huge benefits to hiring people with disabilities."

    Employers are learning about these benefits through the "Your Next Star" awareness campaign. This comprehensive outreach initiative, which includes a website, forums and community partnerships, educates organizations and create buzz among the employment community about the importance of disability diversity. Komyerov explains: "Your Next Star is not job matching. We target employers directly - that's where it's unique. We're telling employers that Your Next Star could be someone with Down syndrome."

    Before the campaign started, MDSC identified a interesting trend: The level of education reached by adults with Down syndrome did not really match the quality of jobs they were being offered. In response, MDSC partnered with a government employment agency and set out to show employers first hand the full and diverse view of their potential workforce and the benefits of hiring a person with Down syndrome.

    Executive Director Maureen Gallagher with Komyerov are co-presenting a session at the DSAIA Leadership Conference in Cincinnati Feb 23-26  to further explore with DSA leaders the benefits of a diverse workforce, innovative approaches to hiring people with disabilities, and examples of successful employers and approaches that lead to success. 

    For more information on Your Next Star, visit

  • Mon, December 12, 2016 10:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Oscar winners and sports legends teamed up with self-advocates in November to promote Down syndrome awareness and acceptance at Global Down Syndrome Foundation's annual Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show. Queen Latifah and Jamie Foxx were joined by Hilary Swank, Matt Dillon, John C. McGinley, Amanda Booth, and Peyton Manning at this incredible event on Nov. 21 that raised over $2.1 million for critically needed funds for research. 

    Deanna Tharpe, DSAIA Executive Director and Mac Macsovits, DSAIA Board President at the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show

    The event is the single largest fundraiser benefiting individuals with Down syndrome. Proceeds help fund over 30 labs and 100 researchers at the Anshutz Medical Campus the University of Colorado-Boulder, as well as the Sie Center for Down syndrome at Children's Hospital Colorado. 

    Michelle Sie Whitten, Global Down Syndrome Foundation co-founder and president/CEO, imparted these thoughts for the future: "I'll know my work is done when parents like me can close our eyes and leave this world without fear - knowing that our children will be accepted, independent members of society."

    Michelle's daughter, Sophia, is the inspiration for GDSF and its remarkable body of work. 

    For more information on the event or the foundation's work, visit

  • Mon, December 12, 2016 9:42 AM | Deanna Tharpe (Administrator)

    Why is the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) so important for students with disabilities? What is the connection between ESSA to IDEA implementation? And how does it affect your child's IEP? can you as part of the Down syndrome community effectively advocate at your state level when it comes to ESSA?

    As part of a joint collaboration between Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action, the National Down Syndrome Congress and the National Down Syndrome Society, there will be a three-part webinar series on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which will be presented live on three consecutive Thursdays in January at 8-9pm Eastern Time. The first webinar in the series will occur on January 12, 2017. 

    The presenters will be NDSC Senior Education Policy Advisor, Ricki Sabia, and NDSS VP of Advocacy & Public Policy, Heather Sachs. The two subsequent webinars will get into much greater detail about how to use ESSA with IDEA to support high expectations at your child's IEP meeting and how to advocate in your state for strong ESSA implementation. 

    Register today by clicking here. And feel free to share this learning opportunity with other Down syndrome community leaders and parents!

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I want to tell you what WONDERFUL time I had at the conference. I learned so much and came away with lots of ideas for our organization. -Barb Waddle, The Upside of Downs of Northeast Ohio


Down Syndrome Affiliates in Action started as a conference bringing together outstanding leadership from Down syndrome organizations around the country. Learn More

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