Project Update: Opening Minds and Doors to Welcome Inclusion

Microsoft President Brad Smith calls for Seattle, home of the 2018 Special Olympics, to be a representative of inclusion.

Since his award from the U.S. Alumni TIES “The New Frontiers of Global Public Health,” Professional Fellow Jim Mancini has utilized his U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant to promote inclusion for people with intellectual, behavioral, and social disabilities. His work with the Welcome Inclusion (WIN) initiative has touched the wider Seattle community as he calls for dialogue and understanding between communities and their members with differences.

You can read more about Jim’s project and other U.S. Alumni TIES Small Grant winners in our previous post here.


Welcome Inclusion Initiative (WIN)

The Welcome Inclusion (WIN) Initiative is a grassroots alliance in the Seattle, Washington area. WIN is a public awareness and capacity-building campaign that will facilitate rapid, transformative community change to promote a world of inclusion for children and adults with intellectual, behavioral and social differences through 3 key activities:

(1) Awareness — building public awareness about creating healthy and positive relationships with people with differences;

(2) Community — providing a mobile cloud-based app for people to find WIN businesses, support community connection, take action, and to collect data from self-advocates and families about services needed in our communities; and

(3) Training — providing businesses the opportunity to take a “Central 6” pledge and receive training for effectively serving, working with, and hiring people with differences.


1. We welcome everyone with disabilities.

2. We value and strive to understand your differences.

3. We communicate with clarity, respect and patience.

4. We encourage all our customers to do the same.

5. We are here to help and accommodate you.

6. We invite ongoing conversations to improve our service.

WIN is composed of leading educators, researchers, service providers, self-advocates and families. It is inspired by stories from families impacted by autism, cerebral palsy, Downs syndrome and other developmental and intellectual differences.

These often very painful stories — people feeling unneeded and undervalued in their local communities, businesses, and schools — lead to isolation, diminished educational and health outcomes, and a society unaware and unprepared to work positively and productively with all people.

Yet, there are also positive examples of inclusion — where individuals and businesses know that people with differences have important contributions to make. They encourage participation, give support and create opportunities for those with differences to share their talents and explore their interests through meaningful work, civic life, and recreation.

The Welcome Inclusion (WIN) Initiative kicked off with a Leadership Symposium on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA on June 27, 2017. Over 350 people attended — self-advocates, parents, Microsoft employees and executives, executives and sponsors from the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games that will take place in Seattle, business and community leaders, teachers, political leaders, Children’s Hospital Autism Center and University of Washington providers, researchers and a wide variety of community members all making this event the start of something great.

The symposium included a video from Washington Senator Patty Murray, a video from Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, and a special message from Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray additionally stated that June 27th will be Welcome Inclusion Day and further, that the first Wednesday of every month be WIN-day!

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray proclaims June 27, 2017 to be Welcome Inclusion Initiative Day

Speakers included King County Executive Dow Constantine, members of the WIN leadership committee including Department of State exchange alumni Jim Mancini and Raphael Bernier, members of the community telling their stories, and a call to action by Microsoft president Brad Smith, who challenged our community to become a city of inclusion leading up to the 2018 Special Olympics.

The symposium was an enormous success! We garnered participant enthusiasm and received local media attention. Our next steps are to raise funds for research and training development, our public awareness campaign and further development of mobile technology, and to continue to spread the word by engagement with local businesses to take the pledge. Stay tuned for a series of videos (thanks to an Alumni TIES grant!) that begins to tell WIN stories, stories of both inclusion and exclusion that helps increase awareness and understanding of this issue.

For more information about WIN, please view the video below and take a look at our website. For questions, email Jim at

Written and contributed by Jim Mancini.

Alumni Thematic International Exchange Seminars (Alumni TIES) are regionally focused seminars for alumni of U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs.