Easterseals (formerly known as Easter Seals; founded in 1919 as the National Society for Crippled Children) is an American 501(c)3 nonprofit providing disability services, with additional support areas serving veterans and military families, seniors, and caregivers.
Easterseals addresses the needs of individuals and families throughout the lifespan - from inclusive child care to respite care - in order to help people "reach for their full potential."
Services and programs are tailored based on the needs of the individual and the local community. Easterseals has a network of 75 locations across the nation. Services assist people with physical disabilities, mental disabilities, and special needs. Parents can find support for a child who has a diagnosis at birth and there are services for people who have a disability due to disease, injury, or aging. Professionals at Easterseals help people overcome barriers, achieve independence, and reach their goals.
Easterseals' offerings are categorized into support areas:
90% of funds raised go to Easterseals disability services across the nation. Easterseals was ranked 1st by the National Health Council for more than 25 years. Easterseals' funding sources include government grants and agency programs, donations, and fee-for-service initiatives. Donations help the organization provide affordable offerings to clients while maintaining program costs. Easterseals serves about 1.3 million individuals per year.
The name "Easter Seals" derived from an earlier fundraising program: beginning in 1934, colorful adhesive seals, the size of postage stamps, were sold around Easter; purchasers stuck these on mailed envelopes to demonstrate their support for the organization. Because of the program's success, the organization changed its name from "the National Society for Crippled Children" to "Easter Seals." They have since changed their name to "Easterseals."
In 2003, Easterseals started "Walk With Me" events across the country. Thousands of people have attended these events over the years, generating millions of dollars for disability services.
In 2010, Easterseals expanded the "seal" program through introducing the "Easterseals Blanket." The image on the blanket is chosen through an online vote for the Lily Seal of the Year. Artists submit depictions of lilies to be featured on the blanket.
Since the 1920s, Easterseals has worked with federal, state, and local officials to advance legislation for people with disabilities and disability services. This includes the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Passed in 1990, the ADA guarantees the civil rights of people with disabilities and prohibits discrimination.
Easterseals also created a public service campaign that highlighted accessibility and employment issues to be addressed by the ADA's implementation.
Today, Easterseals continues to advocate for policies that support people with disabilities.
Easterseals headquarters offices in the Board of Trade Building in Chicago and in Washington, D.C. provide assistance to 75 affiliates through management training, implementation of best practices, consultation services, fundraising, marketing, advocacy, and corporate relations.
Nationwide, Easterseals' 75 locations provide services to people with disabilities and special needs in their local communities. Each location operates independently as its own 501(c)3 corporation under the Easterseals name.
Easterseals is governed by a National Board of Directors, which is composed of volunteers, most of whom are nominated by one of the organization's approximately 75 affiliates across the country. Elections to the Board, composed of between 15 and 19 members, are held annually by another larger volunteer body, Easterseals National House of Delegates. Directors are elected for three-year terms, and terms are staggered to achieve strength and continuity on the board.
Easterseals National House of Delegates consists of volunteers certified by their affiliates to represent them as delegates at the organization's annual convention, thus ensuring broad representation of Easterseals affiliates nationwide. In addition to the numerous training and motivational sessions offered to Easterseals board members, delegates and affiliate staff throughout the convention, the Annual Meeting of the House takes place, when the house elects new members to the national board and addresses any other motions put before it.