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Guidelines - UP Designation

UP Designation is applied to organizations that have made a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core institutional value. UP Organizations:

  • Provide training for everyone about inclusive culture. The best inclusive design solutions will never succeed without the commitment and engagement of board, staff, volunteers, designers and others taking part in the work of the organization.
  • Engage user/experts to inform and inspire.  A user expert can be anyone with a functional limitation or disability who has developed natural expertise in dealing with the challenges of our physical, information and/or communication environments. Establishing a routine commitment to engaging a variety of user experts who can offer insights into what fails and what works is a reliable means of continuous improvement.
  • Coordinate and integrate a vision of inclusion throughout the entire organization.  A shared sense of purpose infects the entire organization and shapes priorities and inclusion is woven into everything the organization does – marketing, planning, budgeting, fundraising and branding.
  • Innovate. Creating great places and experiences that work for everyone is inspired, creative, collegial, satisfying, and fun. Fresh ideas come from fresh insights and a willingness to engage in trial and error.

Benefits of Becoming an UP Organization
The Mass Cultural Council will support and cultivate the network of UP Organizations to foster idea sharing, collaboration, and best practices. UP aims to catalyze a community of practice made up of learners and innovators who believe life in all its variety is our collective good fortune and a vehicle for richer experiences.

UP Organizations will:

  • Be promoted by the Mass Cultural Council as an UP Organization through social media platforms.
  • Be eligible for the UP Innovation Fund. Invitations for proposals will be sent to UP Designated organizations in October.
  • Gain a wealth of knowledge, experience and camaraderie by being part of a network of likeminded organizations. The Mass Cultural Council will work with the UP Organizations to identify topics and methods for connecting and sharing through means such as in-person gatherings, webinars, and pairings for mentorship/partnership, etc.
  • Be eligible for an UP stipend to attend the Kennedy center LEAD Conference.
  • Be invited to participate in ILN workshops, as either a presenter or student, cultivating a continual professional development in the field.
  • Be eligible for an UP Award which is both a recognition and monetary award.

Requirements for UP Organizations
To participate in the Universal Participation Initiative organizations must be willing to share details of successful strategies in order that the field and the public benefit from collective knowledge.

UP Organizations must:

  • Share innovations and outcomes with UP network and the field at large.
  • Support other organizations by providing technical or experiential expertise to organizations taking part in the ILN.
  • Complete an annual reporting requirement for the Mass Cultural Council so the collective impact of UP Organizations can be measured.

Length of Designation
An UP Designation will be in effect for one year and renewed upon successful compliance with final reporting requirements. Every five years, UP Organizations must reapply to the program and the organization's governing board must reapprove their resolution to continue their commitment to UP.

Massachusetts non-profits offering public programming in the arts, humanities, or sciences are eligible to apply for an UP Designation.

Application Process
Applications accepted from September 12 – November 14.

Complete the Application:

  1. Create an organizational profile to access the online application.
    (Please note: Usernames/Passwords created for previously-submitted CIP-Gateway, Cultural Districts, Cultural Facilities Fund, SerHacer, MassFestivals, and/or YouthReach applications can all be used.)

  2. Complete the online application. Including an upload of the following supporting documents:
    • An organizational resolution approved by the applicant’s governing board stating a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value. If the board is not able to meet prior to the application deadline, the applicant should be able to provide the date that the board will meet to vote on the resolution.

    • At least one testimonial from a visitor to your organization, which speaks to a specific situation in which the organization demonstrated its commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value.

  3. Click the "final submission" button of the online application. Your application will then be automatically received by the Mass Cultural Council.

Review Criteria:
The Mass Cultural Council will review the application materials and award the UP Designation to organizations that:

  • Demonstrate evidence of a commitment to learn, take action, and embrace inclusivity as a core organizational value.

  • Demonstrate that organizational behaviors and culture reflect the aspirations of the Universal Participation Initiative. This means that the organization:
    • Provides training about inclusive culture
    • Engages user/experts inform decision making and inspire change and/or policies
    • Coordinate and integrate a vision of inclusion throughout the entire organization
    • Innovates through creative problem solving

Final Decisions
A panel of Mass Cultural Council staff and experts in the field of universal design and accessibility will review applications and make recommendations for final approval.

Designation Process
Applicants will be notified of the outcome the week of December 3, 2018.

Reporting Requirements
In order to measure the collective impact of UP Organizations and to continue to improve the program through participant feedback, an annual final report will be required. The final report will entail a 1 to 2 page self-evaluation, a short narrative, and the results of a survey. The final report will be due in December each year.

Failure to Meet Requirements
Organizations that do not meet the annual Final Report Requirement will lose their UP Designation.

The Mass Cultural Council also reserves the right to revoke UP Designation in cases where the Mass Cultural Council has concerns that an organization no longer represents the ideals of the Universal Participation Initiative. In such cases the Mass Cultural Council will first communicate its concerns to the organization and allow the organization the opportunity to respond and/or address the concerns in order to maintain its status. If an organization does not address Mass Cultural Council's concerns it will lose its UP Designation.

Proceed to the Online Application

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