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The Ability Experience

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About The Ability Experience - Who We Are

Mission

We use shared experiences to support people with disabilities and develop the men of Pi Kappa Phi into servant leaders. 

Vision

Create a community, one relationship at a time, where the abilities of all people are recognized and valued.

Values

Abilities, Teamwork, Empathy and Integrity

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,” remains unchanged. 

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.  

What We Do 

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 

How We Help

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 up to 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.

Who We Help 

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 vision to raise the level of awareness people have about people with disabilities.

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.

Grants

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.