eti programs overview
Empowerment Through Integration (ETI) promotes the achievement of a genuinely inclusive society through the recognition and elimination of stigma against disability, acknowledging and rejecting bias, and elevating respect for individual value.
Committed to developing a more inclusive society, ETI empowers youth with disabilities and transforms social and cultural stigmas against disability globally. We advance our mission through groundbreaking initiatives that challenge stereotypes about people with disabilities, elevate marginalized voices and viewpoints, and promote a robust and authentic respect for individual value.
Our programs explore and explode societal approaches to integration, and disability and other identities—and empower participants with and without disabilities to embrace diversity and difference.
ETI’s founder and CEO, Sara Minkara, lost her sight at age seven and witnessed the often-extreme ways that society marginalizes and undervalues children with disabilities. She launched the organization as an undergraduate at Wellesley College thanks to a Clinton Foundation grant, and today ETI’s international reach affects more than a thousand program participants in a year.
ETI’s Empowerment Programs support individuals with disabilities to become catalysts for change in their own lives, their communities, and beyond—and they integrate sighted parents, peers, and community members along the way. These programs also bring together both sighted and visually impaired youth to experience a truly integrated environment and are exposed to peers with disabilities, often for the first time, and support youth as authors of social change.
Our comprehensive suite of direct-service programs to support youth, their families, and communities includes life skills training programs, workshops for parents and families of blind youth, social projects, community engagement, and volunteer training. Camp Rafiqi, ETI’s first and longest-running program, is today a two-week life-skills summer program that also incorporates integrated activities with sighted children.
ETI’s Integration Programs center on our unique “In the Dark” events, which provide a safe space for participants to bring their true selves, with all their diverse identities, into an interactive conversation that examines the roots of stigma and societal assumptions on a personal level.
Participants range from corporate employees to conference attendees to students at orientation, and programs are customized for every audience. Blindfolds eliminate visually cued expectations, ensuring participants can engage in deeper reflections and a facilitated discussion concerning their internalized biases.
Together, they create opportunities for learning and growth and leave the event with a deep and practical understanding of how to better embrace diversity and inclusion in their work lives—and beyond.