A TOUCH OF UNDERSTANDING INC

Building Empathy, Igniting Respect

aka ATOU   |   Granite Bay, CA   |  www.touchofunderstanding.org

Mission

A Touch of Understanding's mission is to encourage acceptance and respect for all individuals. Our educational programs are designed to increase understanding of differences and promote full inclusion, thereby minimizing discrimination, bullying and social isolation suffered by children and adults who are perceived as different for any reason, but especially those with disabilities.

Our workshops are provided in 8 counties throughout the Greater Sacrament area: Placer, Sacramento, Nevada, El Dorado, Calaveras, Marin, Solano, and Yolo.

Ruling year info

1996

Executive Director

Mrs. Leslie DeDora

Main address

5280 Stirling Street Suite 102

Granite Bay, CA 95746 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

68-0389777

NTEE code info

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

Primary/Elementary Schools (B24)

Secondary/High School (B25)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2017, 2016 and 2015.
Register now

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Bullying, teasing and disrespect in schools are problems throughout our nation. These behaviors create barriers to learning and cause emotional trauma for children who are singled out because of disability, race, culture, etc. Ignorance and misunderstanding are the root of this mistreatment and isolation. Studies show children with disabilities experience a disproportionate level of maltreatment: "Children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be victims of bullying than their nondisabled peers. The bullying experienced by these children was more chronic in nature and was most often directly related to their disabilities." (Wheaton, Zuver, 2009) Research shows a positive school climate, where students feel emotionally and physically safe, is associated with higher attendance rates, fewer discipline violations, and better academic performance. "The climate should be characterized by warmth, tolerance, positive responses to diversity, sensitivity to others' views, coop

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

A Touch of Understanding provides more than 200 workshops each school year to students in the Greater Sacramento, California area. Each student participates in the two-part program. In one part the students handle braces and artificial limbs and write in Braille, using a slate and stylus.  They use wheelchairs and white mobility canes. They complete tasks using a mirror and headphones to understand the challenges of learning disabilities and autism. The second part includes volunteer speakers who share their experiences and insight with the students. These two parts complement one another by giving students experience with the assistive devices used by people with disabilities as well as the opportunity to meet individuals who uses these tools each day.

Population(s) Served

The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. activities focus on building friendships, learning empathy for others, strengthening self-image and coping with disability challenges within oneself and others. Their self-chosen mission is "Making a Difference and Having Fun While Doing It.”  

The ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. is composed of children and youth with and without disabilities. Each youth-led group meeting includes some aspect of leadership training, team building, sharing of stories, and/or character-building activities and planning. Older members serve as mentors and model empathetic, empowering, holistic and resilient behavior for the younger members. Members often serve as youth ambassadors for ATOU’s in-school activity-based,disability-awareness program, traveling to schools and speaking to other students as their schedule allows.

Population(s) Served

The ATOU Volunteer Team provides an essential platform for individuals with disabilities to serve the community. People who have felt marginalized by their disability shift into leadership roles that place them into the mainstream. At each school workshop, we have two or more volunteer speakers and 4-8 volunteer activity instructors. Of our 70 volunteers, 45 have disabilities. Volunteers have stated that ATOU has been profoundly healing, and sometimes even a life-saving experience for them.

Population(s) Served

The Spirit of Inclusion is an intensive diversity training regarding disabilities, addressing the emotional aspects of inclusion and accessibility. Training is provided to educators and key volunteers on school sites, business, corporate and government employees.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

2006 Local Hero Award 2006

Bank of America/Neighborhood Excellence Initiative

Proclamation honoring efforts in disability awareness 2001

California Governor's Office

Heroes in Healthcare Community Service Award 1998

Health Communications Reseach Institute, Inc.

Business Excellence, Nonprofit Achievement Award 2011

Rocklin Chamber of Commerce

Characters Unite Award 2013

USA Network

Putting Kids First Award 2013

Kids First, formerly Child Abuse Prevention Council

Make a Difference Award 2009

City of Roseville School District Special Education Local Plan Area

Nonprofit of the Year, District 6 2017

California State Assembly

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Percentage of students that said they will be more comfortable around someone with a disability

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2019, 2018, 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18), 2016 (7/1/16-6/30/17), 2015 (7/1/15-6/30/16)

Percentage of students that said it would be easier to make friends with someone with a disability

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18), 2016 (7/1/16-6/30/17), 2015 (7/1/15-6/30/16)

Percentage of teachers that say the ATOU workshop was a valuable educational experience for students

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/2017-6/30/2018), 2016 (7/1/2016-6/30/2017), 2015 (7/1/2015-6/30/2016)

Percentage of teachers that state students are more accepting and respectful of peers after the ATOU workshop

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18), 2016 (7/1/16-6/30/17), 2015 (7/1/15-6/30/16)

Percentage of teachers that say the ATOU workshop increased their students' sensitivity and awareness of children with disabilities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18), 2016 (7/1/16-6/30/17), 2015 (7/1/15-6/30/16)

Percentage of teachers that reported an increase in sensitivity to other forms of diversity

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18)

Percentage of teachers that reported the long-term impact is one reason they schedule the workshop for the class each year

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18)

Percentage of parents that think ATOU will be helpful in encouraging their child to accept and include individuals with disabilities in their life

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19), 2017 (7/1/17-6/30/18), 2016 (7/1/16-6/30/17), 2015 (7/1/15-6/30/16)

Percentage of schools that had only one grade participate during the 2018-2019 school year participated again in 2019-2020

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Total is a percentage for each Fiscal Year: 2018 (7/1/18-6/30/19). 87% of schools rescheduled, of the 13% that did not reschedule, 5% was do to lack of funding and 8% was for other reasons.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The major goals of ATOU are:
• To educate children and adults to appreciate, rather than fear, differences in others.
• To raise the level of understanding and respect in school environments and beyond.
• To improve the learning environment and help all children reach their potential and goals.
• To have our school students, who will soon be adults, internalize this knowledge and understanding to enhance their future relationships, careers and personal experiences.
• To improve the lives of individuals with disabilities.
• To provide a safe place, a feeling of belonging and a sense of purpose for our volunteers and our Youth F.O.R.C.E. members.
• To fully include people with disabilities in community life.

Six interwoven programs comprise our character-building disability-awareness efforts to encourage acceptance and respect for all individuals, especially those with disabilities.
IN-SCHOOL DISABILITY-AWARENESS WORKSHOP: A powerful 3-hour workshop providing hands-on opportunities for students to get a glimpse into the lives of individuals with disabilities. The workshop, which includes activities and opportunities for students to interact with volunteers who have disabilities, builds empathy and ignites respect on school campuses and beyond. ATOU is helping to create respectful school cultures where the mistreatment of others is not accepted or tolerated by the students themselves.
ATOU YOUTH F.O.R.C.E. (“Friends Offering Respect ~ Creating Empowerment"): The F.O.R.C.E. increases the wellness, self-respect and self-direction of persons with disabilities by:
• Bringing youth of all abilities together to share in fun, educational and character-building activities.
• Fostering bonds of friendship between youth of all levels of ability.
• Providing leadership training and mentoring by using youth/adult partnerships implement its activities.
• Modeling and encouraging inclusion of persons with disabilities.
This fully-inclusive group provides a sense of belonging and purpose for all members.
YOUTH F.O.R.C.E. HIGH SCHOOL CLUBS:
Members of our Youth F.O.R.C.E. established clubs on high school campuses to bring disability-awareness education to the student body and support and befriend their classmates who have disabilities.
SPIRIT OF INCLUSION: Like the in-school workshop, this hands-on training for adults provides personal experience to foster emotional accessibility and inclusion the workplace and for clients/customers. Participants acquire skills to more comfortably interact with individuals with disabilities.
The 3 – 4 hour diversity training:
• demystifies the challenges brought on by disabilities
• promotes employment of individuals with disabilities
• makes workplaces more inclusive for existing employees with disabilities
• assists schools/companies/governmental agencies to successfully address the needs of their students/clients/customers who have disabilities.
• allows our community to benefit from the abilities and commitment of our residents with disabilities.
DARK MEALS:
Participants gain understanding, appreciation and respect for individuals who are blind and for their skills, by eating a meal with their peers under blindfold, guided by an ATOU member who is blind. VOLUNTEER PROGRAM: ATOU provides an opportunity for persons with disabilities to serve the community as part of an inclusive team reducing physical and emotional isolation and providing a sense of purpose and a rich social network.

ATOU has delivered its in-school workshop to hundreds of schools and organizations in the greater Sacramento region and nearby counties over the past 23 years, reaching more than 99,000 students.
Judy Holsinger, former Executive Director Sacramento County Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) stated, “A Touch of Understanding has a proven record of improving social interactions for children with disabilities in the Greater Sacramento area. Children who were otherwise isolated are now more involved in activities and social groups. A Touch of Understanding helps make full inclusion a reality in our schools."
This statement is supported by the results of a three-year evaluation project completed by ATOU in 2012, under the guidance of independent evaluation consultant, Dr. Christina Borbely. The pre- and post-workshop surveys are based on the well-established CATCH survey (Chedoke-McMaster attitudes Towards Children with Handicaps) preferred for its multi-dimensional assessment of feelings and behavioral intentions toward and beliefs about people with disabilities. The total sample included 778 matched pre/post-test pairs. More than two thirds of the students (70.1%) demonstrated overall improvement in feeling, intentions and beliefs associated with people with a disability.

A total of 99,250 students have participated in the workshop since its inception in 1990. Currently, each year approximately 10,000 students participate in more than 100 schools in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Solano, El Dorado, Calaveras, Marin and Nevada counties in Northern California.
The number of ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. participants has increased from 10 in 2009, to more than 200 in 2017. High school Youth F.O.R.C.E. members are starting ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. Clubs on their school campuses, eagerly taking the responsibility of bringing the message of acceptance and respect to their peers.
The Volunteer Team continues to grow. We currently have 80 volunteers, 39 of whom have disabilities.
Our evaluations show that each of these interwoven programs are increasing knowledge and understanding and promoting acceptance and respect on school campuses and in our communities.
These efforts are stimulating true full inclusion of individuals with disabilities into community life.
We continue our outreach efforts to serve all local schools and provide an ever-increasing circle of service into the full Sacramento Region. In addition, we are piloting the use of telepresence to provide the same interpersonal training experience we provide locally, to students in areas outside our geographic region. We will continue our efforts to garner sustainable funding to allow more children/youth and their families as well as volunteers with disabilities to participate in our programs.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Suggestion box/email, other,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Feedback over the years from Teacher Surveys has expressed concern from teachers that 1 1/2 hrs. to sit during the speaker portion of our program is hard on the children as they get restless. Out of need of volunteer speakers for our speaker portion over the past year, we have implemented "Schedule B." Schedule B is the incorporation of one of our activity stations, Invisible Disabilities, into the speaker portion of our program. Incorporating this activity has allowed the children to move and redirect attention to the activity, therefore, causing the children to have more focus and lest restlessness while listening to the speakers.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

A TOUCH OF UNDERSTANDING INC
lock

Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.

Subscribe

Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.

Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

A TOUCH OF UNDERSTANDING INC

Board of directors
as of 5/5/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Michael Wilson

Wreco

Term: 2017 - 2020


Board co-chair

John DeLury

Retired: PASCO Scientific

Term: 2017 - 2020

Stanford Hirata

Adjunct Professor Sierra College; Financial Advisor Allied Securities

Bob Schultz

Instructor, Brandman University

Darlene O'Brien

Owner, Blind Ambition

Susie Glover

Executive Assistant, Retired US Postal Service

Kody Fernandez

Correctional Officer, CA Dept. of Corrections

Joe Blanton

Realtor, Lyon Real Estate

Mary Herdegen

Retired from Placer County

David Riviello

Operations Manager, Cisco

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes