Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

A TOUCH OF UNDERSTANDING INC

  • Granite Bay, CA
  • www.touchofunderstanding.org

Mission Statement

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.

Main Programs

  1. Children/Youth Disability Awareness Program
  2. Youth F.O.R.C.E. ("Friends Offering Respect ~ Creating Empowerment"
  3. ATOU Mom's Chat Group
  4. ATOU Volunteer Program
  5. Spirit of Inclusion, Training for Adult groups
  6. ATOUCares.org
Service Areas

Self-reported

California

Northern California: Placer County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County,  Solano County, Nevada County, El Dorado County, Yolo County, Calaveras County, Marin County

ruling year

1996

Executive Director since 1990

Self-reported

Mrs. Leslie DeDora

Keywords

Self-reported

Youth development, disability awareness, education, character development, diversity, understanding, violence prevention, emotional IQ, bullying prevention

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Also Known As

ATOU

EIN

68-0389777

 Number

2736610994

Physical Address

5280 Stirling Street Suite 102

Granite Bay, CA 95746

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

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.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

In our increasingly diverse society, tolerance for individuals who seem different from us is essential; however, it is only a beginning. Respect and appreciation for those differences allow for full inclusion of all people into our society and allow our society to benefit from everyone's participation. ATOU meets this desperate need head on. ATOU empowers participants, most of whom are children, to stand up for one another against ridicule, teasing and bullying. ATOU workshops equip participants with respect, empathy and understanding so they themselves can make a positive impact on our society.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

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

Program 1

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.

Category

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Adults

Budget

$310,069.00

Program 2

Youth F.O.R.C.E. ("Friends Offering Respect ~ Creating Empowerment"

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.

Category

Youth Development

Population(s) Served

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Budget

$57,252.00

Program 3

ATOU Mom's Chat Group

The ATOU Moms Chat Group is an open meeting for mothers of special needs children. Moms meet on a monthly basis to make friends,share concerns and solutions, and connect. One mom said, “Mom’s need a place to speak to other moms about what’s going on in their lives and have others understand what they are going through. Being a parent with kids with disabilities makes it hard to make friends. It can be a friendship barrier for adults, too.” This community ensures that mothers with special needs children do not feel isolated, but instead gather encouragement from their peers: women who face similar parenting situations, challenges and joys. The ATOU Moms Chat Group provides camaraderie, encouragement and friendship in a community where group support of this nature is rare and difficult to find.

Category

Population(s) Served

Female Adults

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Females, all ages or age unspecified

Budget

Program 4

ATOU Volunteer Program

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.

Category

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy

Population(s) Served

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

None

Budget

Program 5

Spirit of Inclusion, Training for Adult groups

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.

Category

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy

Population(s) Served

Adults

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Budget

Program 6

ATOUCares.org

ATOUCares.org is an online resource hub for individuals and families affected by disabilities in Placer, Sacramento and Nevada Counties in Northern California.

Category

Community Development

Population(s) Served

Disabled, General or Disability Unspecified

Physically Disabled nec

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

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

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    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 our communities.
    To be a resource for individuals and families affected by disabilities.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Six interwoven programs comprise our character-building disability-awareness efforts focused on our mission of encouraging acceptance and respect for all individuals, especially those with disabilities. IN-SCHOOL DISABILITY-AWARENESS WORKSHOP: Our workshop is a powerful three-hour character-building, disability-awareness workshop providing hands-on opportunities for students to get a glimpse into the lives of individuals with disabilities. The workshop, which includes activities and an opportunity for students to interact with volunteers who have disabilities, builds empathy and ignites respect on school campuses and beyond. Christine Gardiner, a sixth grade teacher, stated, “A Touch of Understanding sets the bar for respectful behavior in our classroom and on our school campus." 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. is committed to increasing the wellness, self-respect and self-direction of persons with disabilities by:
    • Bringing youth with and without disabilities 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 utilizing youth/adult partnerships to lead and implement its activities
    • Modeling and encouraging respect for and inclusion of persons with disabilities.

    This fully-inclusive group provides a sense of belonging and purpose for all members.

    SPIRIT OF INCLUSION TRAINING FOR ADULT GROUPS: Like the in-school workshop, this hands-on training provides personal experience to foster emotional accessibility and inclusion the workplace and for clients/customers.

    MOMS' CHAT GROUP: provides a venue for mothers of children with disabilities to share resources, experiences, concerns, and victories with others with similar circumstances. Women find understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.

    VOLUNTEER PROGRAM: ATOU provides an opportunity for persons with disabilities to serve the community as part of an inclusive team. Many individuals with disabilities experience physical and emotional isolation. In addition to educating and inspiring others, participation with the ATOU Volunteer Team provides an opportunity for a denser social network for all volunteers, both those with and those without disabilities.

    ATOUCARES.ORG: an online resource hub for individuals and families affected by disabilities.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    ATOU has delivered its in-school workshop to hundreds of schools and organizations in the greater Sacramento region and nearby counties over the past 22 years, reaching more than 88,000 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) established in 1985 and 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.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Progress is tracked in both qualitative and quantitative terms.
    School Workshop:
    The number of participating counties, school districts, schools and students are tracked, with increases reported each year. Participating schools schedule every year and new schools sign on each year.
    After each in-school workshop, questionnaires are given to each teacher, student and their parent. Data gathered from these surveys is analyzed to assure the workshop is meeting the needs of the students.

    Additional evaluations are done periodically, under the guidance of an independent evaluation consultant, using the CATCH survey (Chedoke-McMaster attitudes Towards Children with Handicaps).

    Spirit of Inclusion Worskhops: Participants complete surveys following the training. Each workshop has produced the highest level of satisfaction among the participants.

    ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E.:
    Surveys are distributed periodically. Interviews with members and their parents reveal the impact of the child/youth involvement.

    Mom's Chat Group:
    Interviews regarding the importance and value of the group reveal the need for this program.

    Volunteer Program: Surveys are provided annually to assess the value of participating in the Volunteer Program. Feedback is requested at annual volunteer trainings. Interviews with individual volunteers reveal the benefit of the program to participants.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    A total of 88,000 students have participated in the workshop since its inception in 1990. During the 2015-2016 school year alone, 10,081 students in 101 schools in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, Solano, El Dorado, Calaveras, Marin and Nevada counties in Northern California participated.

    The number of ATOU Youth F.O.R.C.E. participants has increased from 10 in 2009, to over 200 in 2015. 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 Mom's Chat Group and the Volunteer team continue to grow in numbers through word of mouth.

    Our evaluations show that each of these interwoven programs are increasing knowledge and understanding and promoting acceptance and respect on school campuses and beyond.

    We continue our outreach efforts to serve all local schools and provide an ever-increasing circle of service into the full Sacramento 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.
Service Areas

Self-reported

California

Northern California: Placer County, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County,  Solano County, Nevada County, El Dorado County, Yolo County, Calaveras County, Marin County

Social Media

Funding Needs

A Touch of Understanding is seeking to diversify funding sources.  We seek grant funding, corporate funding, event sponsorship and individual donations.  Schools pay a small portion of the costs to present the programs.  All other revenue comes from donations and grants.

Videos

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

A TOUCH OF UNDERSTANDING INC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30

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Operations

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

A TOUCH OF UNDERSTANDING INC

Leadership

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  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2014
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
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Executive Director

Mrs. Leslie DeDora

BIO

Leslie DeDora founded ATOU when she saw an unmet educational need in the area of disability awareness. Students who were perceived as different endured teasing and abuse. Leslie created ATOU because she values a person's integtrity and worth, based on who they are, not their appearance or physical ability. Since it's inception, she has been responsible for oversight of all aspects of management and program implementation. Leslie and ATOU have received the following awards: 2013 USA Network Characters Unite Award, 2013 Kids First, Putting Kids First Award, 2011 Business Excellence Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce Non Profit Achievement Award, 2006 Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, Local Hero Award, 2001 Certificate of Recognition from the CA State Assembly, 2001 Proclamation from Acting Governor Cruz Bustamante, 1998 Heroes in Healthcare Community Service Award.

STATEMENT FROM THE Executive Director

"A healthy community can be likened to a patchwork quilt. Each individual, like each square of a quilt, has his or her own unique pattern. For the individual, this is comprised of, among other things, their personality, their interests, their abilities, their challenges and their dreams. Just as the sewing of the squares forms a functional quilt, the connection of individuals forms a healthy community. Each individual is attached by a fine thread of understanding, acceptance and respect. A Touch of Understanding strives to create that thread where it does not exist and strengthen it where it does, especially for individuals with disabilities.

Our disability-awareness programs have proven to create and strengthen this thread by increasing understanding, acceptance and respect for children on school campuses throughout the Greater Sacramento area.   Our character-building programs teach the life skill of empathy towards individuals with disabilities. Understanding of and empathy for individuals with disabilities is a springboard for appreciation and respect for all people.

ATOU is working with our young people, the crafters of our future, helping them to realize their personal value and their influence on those around them. We are asking them not to simply tolerate one another, not to coexist, but to get to know one another, to embrace their differences, and to connect with that thread of acceptance and respect. In so doing, A Touch of Understanding is empowering our young people to craft strong, functional communities on their school campuses and beyond."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Michael Wilson

Wreco

Term: Oct 2013 - Oct 2015

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & 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 & 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?


ORGANIZATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Gender
Race & Ethnicity
Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies
No
We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
No
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
Yes
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
No
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
No
We have a diversity committee in place
No
We have a diversity manager in place
Yes
We have a diversity plan
No
We use other methods to support diversity