Program overview

As a pillar of the Paralysis Resource Center, the Quality of Life Grants Program awards financial support to nonprofit organizations that mirror the Reeve Foundation's mission.

Pioneered by the late Dana Reeve, the Quality of Life Grants Program recognizes projects and initiatives that foster community engagement, inclusion and involvement, while promoting health and wellness for individuals living with paralysis and their families.

The Quality of Life Grants Program has funded 3,151 non-profit programs, awarding over $26 million to organizations nationwide that provide services to foster community engagement, improved access, and independent living.

Grants have been awarded in all fifty states and in 33 countries outside the United States of America.

Three thematic grant areas: The ABCs of Quality of Life

The Quality of Life Grants Program funds a wide array of programs that are organized in three key thematic areas: Actively Achieving, Bridging Barriers, or Caring and Coping (ABC's).

Actively Achieving
These projects provide individuals with disabilities opportunities to participate in activities that engage their bodies and minds. Actively Achieving programs promote interaction with other people in positive community settings, and nurture independence and personal growth. Sports, arts, recreation, education and employment initiatives are all grouped in the Actively Achieving category.

Past examples include:

  • Wheelchair ballroom dancing
  • Adaptive surfing
  • Accessible hiking trails
  • Inclusive accessible playgrounds
  • Paralympic sports training
  • Accessible gardening
  • Career training and employment support services
  • Special camp for children that require mechanical ventilators
  • Power soccer programs
  • Internship program for students with disabilities

Bridging Barriers
These projects address and offer solutions to barriers for independent living across the disability community.

Barriers may be structurally evident, such as lack of ramps or other means of access in buildings with stairs, or lack of curb cuts on sidewalks.

Other barriers are far less obvious, such as lack of accessible transportation, inability to operate a computer due to limited hand function, failure to receive dental or gynecological care as a result of inaccessible examination equipment, inability of uninsured or under-insured individuals to secure a properly fitted wheelchair, and discrimination in the workplace.

Past examples include:

  • Installing a hydraulic lift in a pool at a community fitness center
  • Advocacy training for workers with disabilities
  • Accessible transportation for veterans with disabilities
  • Wheelchair recycling program
  • Transitional accessible housing program for adults with spinal cord injury

Caring and Coping
Caring and Coping projects provide services that address the complex day-to-day health and personal issues for individuals living with disabilities, their families and caregivers.

Disability often causes a great deal of stress in a family – whether paralysis occurs at birth or if a disability is acquired later in life due to traumatic injury or progressive illness.

Prevention of secondary health conditions, encouraging healthy life choices, and connecting with peers for emotional support are key areas in this category. Injury prevention, disaster preparedness and response for individuals with disabilities, and research are also included.

Caregiver initiatives are of paramount importance, as caregivers are at high risk for burn out and their needs are often overlooked. As an example, we have funded programs that provide care and vital support to family caregivers of service members who were wounded or traumatized on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other examples include:

  • Mindfulness training program for caregivers
  • Consumer health and wellness conference for families with spina bifida
  • Nurse helpline for individuals with quadriplegia
  • Injury prevention program for the Navajo nation
  • Marriage enrichment program for couples impacted by multiple sclerosis

Grant Details

Applications are welcome from nonprofit organizations with IRS 501(c)(3) status, municipal and state governments, school districts, recognized tribal entities, and other institutions such as community or veterans hospitals.

Grants are awarded to organizations that address the needs of people living with paralysis caused by spinal cord and other injuries, diseases or birth conditions, including (but not limited to) stroke, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

In 2018, we piloted a tiered approach to the structure of the Quality of Life grants program to better reflect and respond to the priority needs of the community of people living with paralysis and their families.

The Reeve Foundation Quality of Life grants will continue to support the broad range of projects and activities that we have in the past as described above in the ABCs of Quality of Life.

The Direct Effect Quality of Life (Tier 1) is open-focused and awards grants of up to $25,000 to support the wide range of projects and activities of the traditional Quality of Life grants. Grants fund specific budget items that will clearly impact individuals living with paralysis and their families.

Direct Effect Quality of Life grants are offered twice yearly, in the 1st and 2nd grant cycles.

High Impact Priority Quality of Life Grant Tiers offer three increasing levels of grant funding. Each tier is targeted to focus on a High Priority issue for the community of individuals living with paralysis and their families, as follows:

Tier 2 -- Grants of $30,000 for the following Priority Areas:

  • Transportation
  • Respite/Caregiving
  • Disaster Response

Tier 3 -- Grants of $40,000

  • Nursing Home Transition

Tier 4 -- Grants of $50,000

  • Employment

High Impact Priority Quality of Life grants are offered once per year, in the 1st grant cycle.

In 2019, we are piloting a new grant program for previously awarded Quality of Life grantees whose programs and/or projects have achieved demonstrable, successful impact. The Expanded Effect Quality of Life grants program will award approximately six (6) grants of up to $100,000 each and will support significant expansion of strategies and programs that are evidence-based, show innovate promising practices, and/or best practices in the field they serve to improve quality of life for people with paralysis, their families, and caregivers.

Organizations that receive grants provide a diversity of services and approaches, including:

  • Improving access in public and residential spaces
  • Providing education, independent living skills, and job training
  • Sponsoring organized sporting and recreational opportunities
  • Enhancing community engagement, independence and inclusion

The Reeve Foundation gives special consideration to organizations that serve returning wounded military and their families, and to those that provide targeted services to diverse cultural communities and/or underserved population groups.

All potential applicants are encouraged to read information on the application page.

Letters of Intent (LOIs) are no longer required for the Quality of Life grants program.

Funded projects in all grant tiers are expected to be completed in 12 months. If this is not possible, the applicant is encouraged to delay submitting a request until such time as the proposed project may be completed in 12 months.

Requests to support the launch of new initiatives or the expansion of existing projects are encouraged. However, grant recipients should not rely on the Reeve Foundation for continued funding of their programs or projects.

The Quality of Life Grants Program is funded through a cooperative agreement with the Administration for Community Living (ACL) Award No. 90PRRC0002.

Who should apply?

The Reeve Foundation aids local grassroots nonprofit organizations that have an immediate and practical impact on individual lives, as well as established nonprofit agencies, municipalities, schools, parks and recreation departments, tribal entities, and large national nonprofit organizations within the United States of America.

The Reeve Foundation cannot award grants to individuals, but our team of information specialists can help identify resources and organizations that can provide financial assistance.

This project was supported, in part, by grant number 90PRRC0002, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.