We use shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders.
The Ability Experience, formerly Push America, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that
serves people with disabilities. The Ability Experience was founded in 1977 as the
national philanthropy of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity with the purpose of instilling
lifelong service in its members and enhancing the quality of life for people
with disabilities. Although the organization is still fulfilling the purpose for
which it was intended, The Ability Experience has grown into a nationally recognized
nonprofit with numerous programs educating undergraduates, alumni and
communities about the abilities of people with disabilities.
The Ability Experience’s mission is, “We
use shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop
the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders.” which has been fulfilled
for more than
35 years. Although the wording may have been changed, The
Ability Experience’s vision to “Create a community, one relationship at
a time, where the abilities of all people are recognized and valued,”
Through programs of all kinds, participants display The Ability Experience’s four core values (abilities, teamwork, empathy and integrity) while
serving others. Although the funds raised are invaluable, just as important is
an increased awareness of the amazing things people with disabilities can do,
as opposed to focusing on what they can’t.
Over the course of The Ability Experience’s history, the way the
organization achieves its mission has changed often without ever forgetting its
roots. When it was founded, The Ability Experience was based on the construction of play
units for children with disabilities. It was only a matter of years before
construction was no longer the sole focal point of the organization.
Cycling was introduced 10 years into the organization’s
history with Journey of Hope, a cross-country cycling event, followed by Gear
Up Florida, a similar event across the state. With the addition of Build
America a few years later, cycling and construction truly began working
hand-in-hand to change the lives of people with disabilities.
Currently, The Ability Experience still
utilizes construction and
cycling as main vehicles for impact, but has also added The Ability
Experience Challenges, events not restricted to only members of Pi Kappa
Phi focused on pushing the
limits of human ability.
More than any one event, though, is the idea of service
leadership. The goal of each and every Ability Experience program is to give of one’s
self in order to benefit people with disabilities, instilling a lifelong
commitment to service.
The Ability Experience Events
Every program of The Ability Experience
has the goal of giving back to the community through a number of
different grants. Materials used in construction programs are purchased
through grants. On stops for cycling events, grants are given to local
organizations that serves people with disabilities in order to provide
new equipment or upgrades to their facilities.
In addition to event grants, chapters of
Pi Kappa Phi are able to get involved in grant-giving. Each chapter that
has taken the initiative to have a volunteer relationship in their
local community is also rewarded with a Circle of Giving grant. Circle
of Giving grants are 25% of a chapter’s fundraising for a year and given
in that chapter’s name to their local volunteer relationship.
Each year, The Ability Experience
averages about 15% administrative costs, which means that 85% of all the
money raised goes directly back into serving people with disabilities.
For a full list of grants and applications for grants, please click here.
Just as important as grants is the
service experience that The Ability Experience offers through all of the
organization’s programs. Over the last 30-plus years, those who have
participated in some aspect of The Ability Experience have been so
affected that it has shaped the rest of their lives. Although not always
in the disability community, these lives lived with service at the
forefront will ultimately lead to a better society.
Simply put, The Ability Experience serves
people with disabilities. There
is no specific age or disability with which The Ability Experience is
aligned. The Ability Experience was founded on the premise that people
with disabilities are no
different than people without disabilities, and it is the organization’s
to raise the level of awareness people have about people with
First and foremost is educating those around us about the
abilities of people with disabilities and treating them with the respect that
should be given to everyone. People first language is the easiest way we can
all show understanding and respect and a way of putting the person before the
disability. Instead of calling someone “disabled,” they should be referred to
as a “person with a disability.” Likewise, rather than saying someone “is
autistic,” say that someone “has autism,” making it clear that a disability is
not all that a person is.
For more extensive reading on people first language, please
The Ability Experience offers several grant opportunities for the disability community through
a number of programs. Please read through the descriptions below to see if you
may qualify for funding in a particular area. To download a grant application or learn more, click
on the appropriate grant title.
More info forthcoming.
© 2016 The Ability Experience | 2015 Ayrsley Town Blvd. Suite 200 | Charlotte, NC 28273(704) 504-2400 | Tax ID #: 58-1588777