Introducing: The Pro Bono Incubator!

This is part 2 of 4 introducing where funds from sponsorships and donations will be directed for PTDOS this year. We will be featuring each donation pathway leading up to PT Day of Service. 

Written by, Ciara Burgi, PT, DPT, SCS, FAAOMPT, CSCS

A few weeks ago, you briefly learned about three programs that will be supported through funds raised during PT Day of Service. I get to introduce the Pro Bono Incubator and cannot wait to tell you why I’m so excited about it!

The Pro Bono Incubator was created to support and generate opportunities for our profession to connect with the community and to improve access to care. Before I tell you more about the program, I want to tell you about the first time I felt truly connected to my community.

My first year of college, I began teaching dance for a non-profit organization that provides community outreach programming, such as teaching ballroom dance, to youth in inner-city schools. I assumed this would just be another job teaching dance, but little did I know the profound impact this program would have on me and that it would develop my passion for connection and community.

The first step in learning a ballroom dance is learning to dance with a partner. Trust me when I say this was much more of a struggle than I anticipated! Many of the kids would refuse to dance or try to look like they were holding hands, but in reality, left two inches of airspace between their hand and their partner’s. In the end however, it wasn’t just me, their dance teacher, telling them to hold hands that finally got them to do it- it was the other kids in the class supporting and encouraging one another; it was the girl who didn’t participate for the first two weeks of classes finally getting up from the floor and grabbing the boy’s hand who didn’t have a partner; it was the community. Over those 12 weeks I didn’t just teach a dance and the students didn’t just learn a dance, together we built relationships, strengthened connections, and created a community.

Teaching for this program taught me a few things:

  • Being able to share something you’re passionate about with other people helps to build a reciprocal connection, benefiting all people involved.
  • Sharing a common challenging experience and working toward a goal with someone makes you feel connected to them.

  • Feeling connected to multiple people over the same common goal helps to strengthen bonds and build a community.

The Pro Bono Incubator is all about building community - just as we did in our dance class, and just as our profession is doing with PT Day of Service.

Last year after PTDOS was finished, we asked ourselves the question, ‘how can we do more to support our professional brothers and sisters, to strengthen our community even more?’ One piece of our answer came as our newest program:

The Pro Bono Incubator

The Pro Bono Incubator (PBI) was born on a simple notion: if someone has a vision for how to improve the quality of their pro bono services or start a new pro bono clinic, we believe that idea should be supported. The PBI incentivizes innovation to help solve the growing challenge of access to quality care.

More specifically, the PBI is an application-based grant program that will provide support to new or existing pro bono physical therapy clinics. Applications for the program will be released in early 2017 and require information such as: the applicant’s planned innovation, the need in the applicant’s community, and the applicant’s budget. The grant cycle will last for one year and recipients will utilize funds to implement their innovation. Students, faculty, and licensed therapists are encouraged to apply.

The Pro Bono Incubator is held and operated by Move Together, Inc., the same 501(c)3 non-profit organization that is running PT Day of Service. Applications will be released through Move Together’s social media and website, which will be launched by the end of October. When grant recipients are selected, Move Together will work closely with each recipient to transfer the funding and provide continual resources and connections to ensure each innovation is implemented thoroughly, effectively, and efficiently. Updates on how the program is being implemented will also be featured on Move Together’s social media pages.  

The Pro Bono Incubator operates on the same themes as PT Day of Service - bringing our profession together to build something special and demonstrate what we can do as a united community. Supporting the PBI will help us increase access to quality rehab medicine, strengthen bonds between students, faculty, licensed therapists, and the community, and take us another step towards transforming society.

Thank you for letting us share more details about this incredible program with you - we couldn’t be more excited!

Pro Bono Incubator, Program Lead