We are pleased to announce that the CSD Social Venture Fund (CSD SVF), which focuses on Deaf-owned or Deaf-run businesses, will be opening to new applicants to its fund and business incubator on October 4th, 2018.
For our second year (Series 2), the CSD SVF will look to support new business ideas, nascent start-ups or businesses just getting a foothold in their industry, and mature businesses that are looking to expand or upscale their offerings or operations. This year, the CSD SVF is broadening their category reach to include media productions, which will be accepted in the form of either a script or treatment.
CSD CEO Christopher Soukup says, “The goal of the SVF is singular. We want to address the issue of low employment rates in the Deaf community, which is tied up in negative societal perceptions of Deaf people and their abilities. The CSD SVF has identified that an optimal point of focus for our efforts at societal change is through supporting Deaf-owned business ventures. These businesses are more likely to see the value in and hire Deaf employees, making them a most effective focal point for our efforts at increasing employment rates in the Deaf community.”
For more information on the CSD Social Venture Fund and the application requirements, please visit http://csdsvf.com
CSD introduces its newest Vice President of CSD Neighborhood, Kari Cooke. Kari began work on September 17th, 2018, and will oversee CSD Neighborhood’s efforts to share resources, build coalitions, and support collaborations between agencies, businesses, nonprofits, and the Deaf Community.
Cooke has long had a passion for advocacy, and her work in that field started with her appointment by Governor Cuomo to the New York State Independent Living Council. She has also been a Policy Analyst for the Center for Disability Rights, and received a federal appointment to the Obama Administration’s FCC Disability Advisory Council. Cooke is the former Director of Policy and Government Affairs for National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA), where she worked with the executive team on policy advocacy and strategic partnerships. Most recently, she was the Assistant Dean in the office of Pluralism and Leadership at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.
Cooke has been recognized for her work in the community by the Center for American Progress as one of the Top 15 Inspiring Young Female Activists, lauded by Deaf Women United as A Deaf Woman Making History, and was selected as a U.S. Delegate at the United Nation’s International Young Leaders Assembly.
CSD CEO Christopher Soukup said, “Kari’s list of achievements is considerable, and it became clear to us very early on that she possessed the qualifications and demeanor to provide CSD Neighborhood the leadership it deserves. CSD Neighborhood’s direct service and work with the Deaf community is designed to uplift every individual, something that is at the core of everything we do at CSD. We know that Kari has the same values at heart as evidenced by the impact that she has had throughout her career.”
Cooke holds an undergraduate degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University and the University of Pennsylvania. A special interest in community outreach and coalition building has meant she’s become involved in many local community and governmental groups such as the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Women’s Media Center, Senator Gillibrand Symposium on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and New Leaders Council (as a fellow).
“My vision for my time in CSD is to deepen our connection with the U.S. Deaf, DeafBlind, Deaf Disabled, hard of hearing, and cochlear implant using communities; to create spaces for members of our communities that are isolated, mainstreamed, or disconnected so that they may find one another and build community; and to address the needs in our communities through technology, community support services, organizational development training, and advocacy,” Cooke said. “The team here is brilliant and talented, and I’m so honored to be part of their story.”
Soukup added, “We’re incredibly proud of the work we do at CSD, and are even more proud to be able to bring in talented individuals like Kari who are already aligned with our mission values and goals. We look forward to all the good work she will do, both for the organization and for the Deaf community.”
For more information about CSD Neighborhood, please visit CSD Neighborhood.
The campers gathered around the drone, excited to see how it worked. The two counselors, experts on drone operations, patiently explained to the curious young people, and handed over the controls. Gradually, the the little Mavic Air rose into the air.
The counselors were Bradley Gantt and Ruan Du Plessis, part of CSD’s Creative team. They spent some of their summer at the Deaf Film Camp at Camp Mark Seven in New York, teaching filmmaking, editing, and drone operations. CSD was a primary sponsor of the camp, and also supported Bradley and Ruan’s participation.
Bradley and Ruan were able to share with the campers their own stories of how they became filmmakers. They have known each other since they were fifteen years old, and they showed the campers the very first movie that they ever made together. This gave the campers a feel for how far Bradley and Ruan have come, and provided inspiration for how far the young people watching can still go.
In addition to the Mavic Air, the campers learned about the Sony A72 camera, the DJI Osmo X5, and the DJI Inspire 2. Bradley said, “They asked me if Hollywood uses that equipment and I said yes. They were surprised. But we wanted them to experience the real world.”
It wasn’t all about technology though. The camp provides opportunities for growth and leadership as well. Bradley was especially impressed with one girl who was a director for a short film project. She was hesitant at first, but grew into the role. “She showed great leadership and balance,” Bradley said. “She made sure that her team was okay, and it resulted in an excellent, beautiful film.”
Ruan said, “When I told them that each of them could operate the Mavic Air drone, I could see they were very excited as they impatiently waited for their turn. That moment when I gave them the controller — I could see the joy in their eyes.”
The campers knew that there were some random white lines on the field in front of them but they couldn’t make sense of what the lines were supposed to represent. As they navigated the drone high into their air, the video it shot made it all clear. The white lines formed an enormous “I love you” handshape.
With new technical skills, confidence, and a change in perspective, the young Deaf campers were able to see something they couldn’t see before. And we can’t wait for them to show us what else there is to discover.
Connect Direct is pleased to announce that we have acquired Business Development Manager Vannessa LeBoss, as of July 1st, 2018. Given her 19 years of experience supporting and spearheading corporate expansion through finance, HR, sales and operations, her role within Connect Direct will be impactful. Connect Direct will utilize this position to establish and develop relationships for effective growth and implementation of direct services in ASL.
Director of Connect Direct Craig Radford shares, “Given Vannessa’s extensive background in successfully expanding opportunities for the organizations she has worked in, my team and I are thrilled to have her onboard.” Ms. LeBoss has a degree in Business Management and has worked in the field of American Sign Language for nearly two decades. Throughout her career, she has laid an integral foundation of education and expansion related to appropriate utilization of interpreters and technology within the ASL community to businesses and organizations throughout the U.S., and thus brings an unparalleled industry expertise into Connect Direct.
Linda: This is How Success Happens, where we talk to Polar explorers, war correspondents, founders, ultra-marathoners, authors, artists, and a range of other unique personalities to help you understand the capabilities behind how success happens.
Neil Armstrong: It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Speaker 3: When I’m training for an ultra marathon, anywhere from 100 to 120 miles a week would be in my training cycle. Lots of miles.
Speaker 4: We sold something like 250,000 books.
Linda: I’m the managing editor at Entrepreneur.com and your host, Linda Lacina. Today we’re excited to have a very special guest. Chris Soukup, the CEO of Communication Service for the Deaf. It’s a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunity for the deaf community. What started as a grassroots organization has grown into one of the largest organizations of its kind. One that, this year added a special social impact fund to help deaf entrepreneurs get the funding and support they need to start businesses. He’ll talk about transforming this organization to meet the challenges facing the deaf community today, the important role entrepreneurship can play, and how we can all think differently about creating opportunity. How are you, Chris?
Chris: Hello. It’s a great pleasure to be here.
Linda: I also would like to introduce Terry Hayes interpreting for us today. Tell us, Chris, a little bit about yourself, but also about CSD. Can you get us started? Get us all on a level playing field?
Chris: Sure. CSD was formed in 1975 with a $15,000 grant from the state of South Dakota. We opened our doors, and the very first service that we provided to the community was sign language interpreting services. Through the years CSD has taken on additional dimensions and has grown to become a worldwide organization continuing to be dedicated to the deaf and hard of hearing community. We provide today a broad range of products, programs, and services all engineered to elevate the quality of the life experience for this population. I’ve been involved with the organization myself my entire life, and I’m very, very proud of our journey as a company, and the impact that we’ve been able to have, and our continuing commitment to the ideas that we know are possible, or for the deaf community.
CSD is especially excited and proud to name Mozzeria – a Deaf-owned Neapolitan pizzeria based in San Francisco – as the first-ever business partner of the CSD Social Venture Fund (CSD SVF). Mozzeria and CSD will use this partnership to model the success of the Mozzeria brand and restaurant and foster the opening of a series of franchise locations across the United States.
“I can think of no better investment for our first than Mozzeria,” said Christopher Soukup, the CEO of CSD. “[Mozzeria founders] Melody and Russ [Stein] are two of the most visible people who exemplify the entrepreneurial spirit that we know is already there in the Deaf community, just waiting to be revealed.”
Melody Stein is no stranger to the restaurant business, learning the ropes from her parents who owned restaurants in Hong Kong and San Francisco. Melody and her husband, Russ, met at Gallaudet University, where they bonded over a common love of food. They soon moved to San Francisco, when Russ, who is a native New Yorker, realized how much he missed the Italian restaurants and pizzerias of his hometown, which provided the drive to for them to create Mozzeria. “It was always our dream to open a restaurant,” said Melody.
Mozzeria shares with CSD the same commitment to prosperity among Deaf people everywhere. Mozzeria has an all Deaf staff and nearly everything in the restaurant is designed or built by Deaf people, including all the artwork on the walls. Russ and Melody Stein, both of them former employees at CSD, said, “Mozzeria’s values and goals so completely line up with CSD’s, there was no question about setting up this partnership. I feel like we have just come full circle.”
Outside the Mission District San Francisco Restaurant. (Photo: Small Business Revolution)
The CSD SVF was created earlier in 2017 to address the employment crisis among Deaf Americans with the goal of supporting the development of Deaf-owned businesses. Soukup said that the best way to “combat the unacceptable and massive employment gap for Deaf Americans is to showcase the exceptional talents and successes of people who are Deaf.”
Mozzeria, through the support of the CSD fund and incubator program, will receive capital funding and resources, as well as develop training materials in ASL to support the growth of new franchise locations. Melody has her sights set on uplifting the community, “With CSD’s support we will now have the opportunity to significantly grow and expand our business and create more opportunities for Deaf individuals, workers and business owners alike.”
“Without question, Melody and Russ are an extraordinary success story and an inspiration to all of us.” said Soukup.
Any way you slice it, this is a milestone for the Deaf community.
For more information on the CSD Social Venture Fund please visit www.CSDSVF.com.
To learn more about Mozzeria and the business, visit www.Mozzeria.com.
For inquiries about the Mozzeria franchise, please email email@example.com.
Access to education and information in American Sign Language (ASL) is crucial for the Deaf community’s success. CSD Learns recently received a valuable grant from Wells Fargo to support the creation of classes on financial education — presented in ASL. Launching in January, topics will include dealing with debt and starting to invest. Each course is self-paced, and works to provide each student basic financial education.
“Wells Fargo strongly believes that people with disabilities should have the same opportunities to improve their financial health and well-being as anyone else,” said Kathy Martinez, head of disability and accessibility strategy at Wells Fargo. “We are proud to collaborate with CSD Learns to make our Hands on Banking program accessible to this community and help them succeed financially.”
Program Manager Joseph Santini on location filming with Wells Fargo.
Start Learning in ASL Today
To find out when the financial classes open, sign up for the CSD Learns email list here. If you’re ready to start learning today, it’s easy to sign up!
You can learn from classes such as:
Banking Basics – Take a deep dive into banking fundamentals.
Privilege and Intersectionality – Learn about these concepts to better engage in online conversations and real-life situations.
Just go to CSD Learns and subscribe.
Want to know more? Watch this video for CSD Learns.
This commercial was created with #DeafTalent.
What life is like for the deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) has changed significantly in the past half century. Policy changes and new technologies have provided solutions for many, and yet some hurdles have stayed the same.
U.S. Business Leadership Network (USBLN) and CSD are proud to announce a strategic alliance to increase the employment rate for deaf, hard of hearing and deafblind individuals.