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Disability EmpowHer Network Awarded a $25,000 Grant from the Golisano Foundation

Graphic featuring a picture of a group of disabled women text: Amazing News! Disability EmpowHer Network Awarded $25,000 Grant from the Golisano Foundation The grant will assist  Disability EmpowHer Network to provide programming to disabled girls and women in Western New York to build confidence while growing, learning, and developing to their highest potential.

12/20/23– Disability EmpowHer Network, a non-profit run by and for girls and women with disabilities that empowers disabled girls and women to learn and grow, is pleased to announce it has received a grant of $25,000 from the Golisano Foundation to support their continued work to empower disabled girls and women in and around Western New York through their skill building and social programs. The Golisano Foundation is one of the nation’s largest foundations dedicated to supporting programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 


Stephanie Woodward, Executive Director of Disability EmpowHer Network, shared, “Thanks to the generous grant from the Golisano Foundation, we're excited to expand our reach to disabled women and girls in Western New York. This funding will provide opportunities for them to connect, learn new skills, and boost their confidence. We're eager to connect with more participants, enhance their experiences, and guide them toward community leadership, employment, and beyond. Thank you, Golisano Foundation,  for being a crucial partner in our mission.”


Research indicates that disabled girls face lower self-cognition and self-esteem, limited access to positive representation, and increased risks of depression, isolation, and abuse. Additionally, women and girls with disabilities experience fewer educational opportunities, higher unemployment rates, and lower earnings. Disability EmpowHer Network looks to disrupt these statistics by providing in-person and virtual programs where disabled girls and women can learn new skills and build confidence. In-person programs supported by the grant will include EmpowHer Roc and EmpowHer Roc+, local monthly group meet-ups, and EmpowHer Camp, a year-long mentorship experience for disabled teenage girls. Some funding will support the participation of disabled women from Western New York in our virtual public speaking and leadership development class, EmpowHer Expressions. Support from the Golisano Foundation will help Disability EmpowHer Network continue to expand and refine these programs while ensuring that girls and women with disabilities in Rochester and the surrounding areas can access these opportunities. 


“We are proud to support Disability EmpowHer Network and the expansion of programming for disabled girls and women in Western New York to build confidence while growing, learning, and developing to their highest potential,” said Erica Dayton, Golisano Foundation Executive Director, “We believe in Disability EmpowHer Network’s ability to make a difference in the lives of many across the next year.”


Disability EmpowHer Network just celebrated its third anniversary and has seen tremendous growth since its inception, having served over 400 girls and women with disabilities in the last three years. The Golisano Foundation played a significant role in the initial success, having previously funded EmpowHer Camp in 2021. During the past three years, Disability EmpowHer Network expanded from a volunteer-run organization to employ six disabled women and run seven programs nationwide. Disabled girls and women are encouraged to get involved with Disability EmpowHer Network.  Learn more about our local programs and opportunities by emailing


Disability EmpowHer Network is a non-profit run by and for girls and women with disabilities that connects, motivates, and guides disabled girls and women to grow, learn, and develop to their highest potential and have the confidence to lead. The organization has several programs that teach participants independent living, career, and leadership skills while building their confidence and providing opportunities for social connections.

The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. dedicated to making the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Foundation is devoted to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence, and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes. Founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano—entrepreneur, philanthropist, civic leader, and founder of Paychex, Inc. —the Foundation “imagines the possibilities,” advocating for families, fighting for their dignity, and giving people with IDD the opportunity to thrive in their communities. With more than $60 million in gross assets, it awards about $3 million annually to non-profit organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.



Contact: Sophie Poost at 

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