Council Empowerment Funds Program – Revised October 2015

The Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council may reimburse up to $250.00 in expenses for individuals with developmental disabilities and/or a family member or guardian of an individual with a developmental disability to attend conferences or other events held in Massachusetts. To be eligible for consideration an application must be received by the 1st day of the month prior to the month in which the event occurs (April 1st for an event occurring in May, etc.). The Council will respond to requests based on the Council Empowerment Funds Program Criteria (below).

If you would like to receive more information please email, call or write to:

            Voice:              (617) 770-7676 ext 115
            TTY:                (617) 770-9499            
            Facsimile:        (617) 770-1987          
            Address:          Attn:  Council Empowerment Funds Coordinator            
            Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council            
            100 Hancock Street, Suite 201           
            Quincy, MA 02171           

Council Empowerment Funds Program Criteria

The goal of this program is to promote the empowerment of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families by assisting them in their efforts to gain knowledge and advocacy skills to assist the individual to achieve independence, productivity and inclusion.

Definition of Developmental Disabilities

A "developmental disability," as defined in federal law, is a severe, chronic, often lifelong disability that causes substantial limitations in several major life activities such as:  self care, receptive and expressive language, learning, mobility, self-direction, the capacity for independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.  It is attributable to a mental, emotional, sensory, and/or physical impairment that is apparent before the age of twenty-two.

Who Can Apply?

  • An individual with a developmental disability.
  • A family member of an individual with a developmental disability.
  • A guardian of an individual with a developmental disability.
  • Funds are limited to Massachusetts residents.

 How Much Can I Apply For?

In order to extend Council Empowerment Funds to as many people as possible, the Council will provide a maximum of $250.00 for one event per person/family.

What are the Limitations?

  • The event must have a relationship to a Council State Plan objective listed in the current (or most recently published) Council State Plan.
  • A person/family can only receive funds for an approved event once within any two -year period (730 days).
  • A person/family cannot apply for the same event after receiving funding for that event under a previous application (annual conferences, etc.).
  • Funds are limited to Massachusetts residents, and events must take place in Massachusetts.
  • The Council will provide a maximum of $750.00 per event regardless of how many people apply for that event.  If more than 3 eligible applications are approved for the same event, the amount of funds awarded for each individual approved application will be reduced (less than the maximum $250).
  • First-time eligible applications will be prioritized ahead of prior funding recipients.

What Types of Events May I Attend?

Eligible events include:

  • Training in self-advocacy, leadership and self-determination.
  • Training that expands awareness/knowledge of an individual’s rights.
  • Training that will assist in obtaining access to services, supports and other assistance (such as Transition and/or Employment services, subsidized Housing, etc.).
  • Parent training and information under Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Ineligible events include:

  • Events held outside of Massachusetts.
  • Events primarily for professional development.
  • Any event that provides professional continuing education credits regardless of whether the applicant is eligible for such credits.
  • Although eligible for funding, applications for socialization skills development classes will be considered only if funding remains available after funding all eligible applications for other event types.

How Do I Apply?

Complete the Council Empowerment Funds Application Form doc format of Empowerment Fund Application Form
and attach a copy of the brochure/application for the event and a brief summary describing how attending the conference or event will benefit you and/or others.  Applications must be received by the 1st day of the month prior to the month in which the event occurs (April 1st for an event occurring in May, etc.).  Applications may be mailed, faxed, hand-delivered or emailed to

What Am I Required To Do?  When Will I Get Reimbursed?

When you submit an application you will receive an acknowledgement within 14 days that your application has been received.  If you do not receive an application acknowledgement after 14 days, please contact us to confirm that it was received. 

If your application is approved, an award letter (your notification), a Form W9 (Commonwealth payment policy), and a post-event satisfaction survey will be sent to you.  Accompanying paid receipts must support the request for reimbursement of expenses, and you will only be reimbursed up to the maximum amount approved in your award letter.  Requests for reimbursements must be submitted within 30 days following the event and must be accompanied by the required W9 Form and the completed post-event survey.  Failure to submit the W9 Form and the completed post-event survey within the 30 day requirement will result in forfeiture of the award.

Follow-Up Survey

In order to determine the impact that Council support has had on the ability of the  individual (or the family member/guardian to assist the individual) to achieve greater independence, productivity and inclusion, all recipients will be asked to complete a follow-up survey approximately 6 months after receiving funds.  Although this survey is voluntary, the recipient must complete to be eligible for future funding.


  • The Standard Mileage Rate:  set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is 45 cents/mile. 
  • The standard per diem rate allowed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for meals is $30.00 per day.  Meal Expenses are only reimbursable for multi-day events requiring an overnight stay.
  • Education Materials:  There is no reimbursement for event materials, including but not limited to books and videos.