Partners in Policymaking

Partners in Policymaking is a transformative leadership and advocacy training initiative. It aims to engage and empower individuals with developmental disabilities, parents, and families. Participants are expected to make a dedicated commitment both during and after the program, utilizing their skills to drive positive change in community awareness, sensitivity, accessibility, and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Objectives of the Program

  • Provide state-of-the-art information on disability issues and services to participants.
  • Build competencies for participants to become effective advocates who influence public officials and policymakers.
  • Develop understanding of policymaking and legislative processes at local, state, and federal levels.
  • Foster productive partnerships between policymakers and individuals needing and using services.

Who is Eligible?

Partners in Policymaking welcomes individuals with developmental disabilities and parents of children with developmental disabilities as primary participants. We actively seek representation from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, various geographic regions of the state, and a range of developmental disabilities. Ideal candidates are those who are not currently engaged in existing advocacy efforts.

Partners in Policymaking receives funding from grants provided by the South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities, USD Center for Disabilities, and SD Parent Connection.

Program Specifics

A typical Partners class comprises 23-26 participants selected through an application process. Partners engage in six two-day training sessions held from November through April, usually on Fridays and Saturdays. Each session features experts in disability and advocacy fields, offering interactive presentations. Partners enhance communication, assertiveness, decision-making, and legislative testimonial presentation skills through group activities and homework assignments. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory, requiring participants to sign a letter of agreement.

History of the Parent & Disability Movement

Advocacy Strategies

Special Education/Inclusion

Legislative Process

Entitlement Programs/Community Services

City, County, Tribal Government

Assistive Technology

Employment Opportunities

Effective Meetings/Parliamentary Procedure

Individual and Family Support

Abuse and Neglect Awareness

Participant lodging and meals during the training session will be covered. Additionally, mileage, meals for travel, and respite care/personal assistance services will be reimbursed.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee of past graduates. The deadline is stated on the application. Selection occurs in October. For further details and applications, contact:

Mary Kay Budmayr, Partners Coordinator
Disability Rights South Dakota
2520 E. Franklin St. Ste. #2
Pierre, SD 57501
Call: 1-800-658-4782 or 605-224-8294

Partners Class

The 2024 Partners Class has already been completed.

The 2025 Partners Class information will be coming soon.

Join Us On Facebook

Please join our private Facebook group! It is a place for all graduates of South Dakota Partners in Policymaking to connect, discuss & advocate.

Interested in Becoming a Partner?

If you are interested in joining the Partners in Policymaking, please fill out an application using this form below or by downloading a Word doc that you can mail in.

Note: A letter of recommendation must accompany this application.

Our Letter of Recommendation form can be found at the button below. Please send the web form to the person recommending you and have them fill out and submit the form to us with your full name listed.

Recommendation Letter