Grand Prize: $60,000 cash

Diversability LLC
I started Diversability in 2009 as Georgetown University's first-ever disability student club. At the age of 9, I became disabled in a car accident that also took the life of my dad. In 2015, I re-launched and incorporated Diversability as a business, hosting disability events in New York City. We grew to hosting events in other cities, including Washington, DC; San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; Montgomery, AL; and Portland, OR. When the pandemic hit, we could no longer host in-person events so we turned all of our programming to virtual and focused on building a digital-first community. What we realized was that we were now reaching disabled people in hard-to-reach cities who were also looking for community but did not have the in-person infrastructure to connect with others. Our community grew four-fold and our ecosystem is now over 80,000. We also launched a membership community focused on disability leadership and helping disabled people get paid. We are also hosting virtual events almost every week focused on creating a stage for disability thought leadership, authentic connections, and personal and professional development. To date, through our initiatives, we have been able to reinvest over $300,000 back into the disability community. We are on a mission to elevate disability pride, build disability power, and advance disability leadership. Our team has also always been entirely run and led by disabled people (we were a team of 10 at our largest point) because we know that disability employment works. As a disabled woman of color, I have had to learn how to be adaptable and flexible in a world that wasn't built for people like me. Disabled people are some of the most creative and innovative people out there because we've had to be. That means we know how to adjust with changes in the economy and make the most of the situations that we are in. Our business is focused on helping disabled people become proud of their disability identity. We call this the "self-actualization" of the disability experience. We are a cross-disability community, meaning that our focus is on creating visibility, acceptance, and empowerment for apparent and non-apparent disabilities. And when you have more people embracing their disabilities, it means that more of us can get the support that we need. Over the past couple of years, we released a report on how brands can better engage with the disability community and even advised on a Campbell's commercial featuring an autistic character. We believe that more authentic disability representation, and building an accessibility-first world, will make things better for everyone.