Why Cascadia Deaf Nation Isn’t a Nonprofit Organization? Part 1
by Ashanti Monts-Treviska, WA Stewarding Leader
I have worked at several nonprofit organizations during most of my career life. Some of the nonprofit organizations have contributed a lot to my professional growth. I am deeply grateful for these organizations. Most of nonprofit organizations have good intentions to support and invest in communities by providing services that most community members needed. Services they provide range from vocational services to housing services to health services to independent living skills services and more. There are some challenges in being a nonprofit organization: budget restrictions, creativity, public confidence, and more. When it comes to Deaf communities of color, most nonprofit organizations tend to overlook the Deaf communities of color’s needs for growth for many reasons. When the nonprofit organizations receive donations or grants from monetary contributors, the nonprofit organizations, most of the time, would need to follow the guidelines or rules on how the money is being used or being spent. That could give them room to oppress the marginalized groups or take a stock in prioritizing opportunities to be given to those who have more privileges over the marginalized groups. Honestly, I enjoyed working for some of the nonprofit organizations because my roles within these organizations allowed me to make a difference in some people’s lives authentically. It is not about giving the nonprofit organizations a bad name. It is more about pointing out why and how they are less willing to invest in Deaf communities of color in general.
When Cascadia Deaf Nation (CDN) was coming into existence, it was a very difficult decision to determine whether if CDN should be a nonprofit or a for profit organization. There were several factors to look at during the decision making process: 1) Could CDN empower Deaf people of color more as a non profit or for profit? 2) Is it more risky for DPOC leaders to raise funds in a nonprofit or for profit? 3) Could CDN establish a transformative economic model when operating independently of systemic co-dependency?
In answering these questions including several other questions in mind, Cascadia Deaf Nation adopted For Profit Social Enterprise model as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). This kind of status would allow CDN to be very creative and be very flexible in empowering and investing in Deaf communities of color in many ways with stewarding accountability to Deaf communities of color. Cascadia Deaf Nation would use many avenues as an opportunity to show that Deaf people of color are very capable of leading a community or very capable of demonstrating authentic leadership. Most communities do not believe that Deaf people can be effective leaders in many spaces within the communities. Cascadia Deaf Nation looks forward to dismantling the negative views of Deaf people of color in a positive way.
What exactly is a For Profit Social Enterprise? Let’s paint a picture: it is like having child from a nonprofit organization parent and for-profit organization parent. It is a hybrid business brainchild that operates on a for-profit corporation platform. It is a for-profit business with a social mission. Cascadia Deaf Nation is empowered by a social justice mission (there is more than just a social justice mission): dismantling oppressive barriers against Deaf communities of color. This is one of the first steps that CDN can begin creating opportunities to empower Deaf communities of color and bringing how various forms of oppression occurred into awareness within Deaf communities of color and outside of Deaf communities of color.
Remember, this is an American way of doing business. We will explain how we will operate in British Columbia (BC) in the future blog later in 2017 after our extensive researches. In the following blog as part 2, CDN will show how it will move through various communities by its own transliteracy experience.
Thank you for being part of Cascadia Deaf Nation Community.
Translations (coming soon):
American Sign Language (ASL)