Jacob Pritzker Disability Law Fund

“We’re extremely pleased to play even this small role in the struggle for equal rights for people with disabilities.” — Renee Pritzker

Renee and Fred Pritzker care deeply about the legal rights of people with disabilities.

Their 29-year-old son, Jacob, was born with Angelman Syndrome, a neuro-genetic disorder that affects all of his activities of daily living. As his caregivers and advocates, the Pritzkers have first-hand knowledge of the great joys and significant responsibilities associated with loving a person with disabilities.

Jake and Fred Pritzker
Jake and Fred Pritzker at Lanes for Friendship, bowling with Joe Mauer.

The Pritzkers also know that despite generational improvements in the way that people with disabilities are treated, significant inequalities remain. Simply put, far too often and for far too long, people with disabilities have received separate and unequal treatment.

Jacob Pritzker Disability Law Fund
Fred, Renee and Jacob Pritzker

In 2012, the Pritzkers created the Jacob Pritzker Disability Law Fund (JPDLF) at the University of Minnesota Law School, Fred’s alma mater and one of the top twenty law schools in the United States. The purpose of JPDLF is to support and encourage U of M law students and young lawyers in pursuing projects and careers through Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid’s Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) in support of the legal rights of people with disabilities.

In 2013, the Pritzkers began a funding cycle to address a significant lack of housing and support services for young adults with disabilities. Despite the landmark United States Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C., a ruling that requires states to eliminate unnecessary segregation of persons with disabilities and to ensure that persons with disabilities receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs, too many young adults are forced to live dependent lives. In the case of people with significant disabilities, this means a lack of meaningful work, limited social activities, and a profound lack of choice in where and with whom they live.

Building on knowledge gained and contacts made during the preceding year, the Pritzkers are pleased to announce a second funding cycle (2014-15) in support of legal action intended to forever change the way in which housing and support services are provided to Minnesota citizens with significant disabilities. According to Fred Pritzker, “the current funding model is fundamentally flawed. It’s a top-down system that forces people to live segregated lives with strangers and few choices in what they do, where they go and with whom they socialize. No typical person would choose to live like that and there’s no reason why people with disabilities should live that way either.” According to Pritzker, “The time has come for consumer-centered choice making. The system should accommodate individual needs, not force people to be institutional prisoners.”

Renee Pritzker sums up the family’s feelings: “We’re extremely pleased to play even this small role in the struggle for equal rights for people with disabilities.”

In addition to providing funding for disability law efforts at the University of Minnesota, the Pritzkers help people with disabilities who have been injured in an accident. The risk of injury, which exists for almost every human activity, is likely increased for persons with disabilities. This may be due to a failure to recognize and anticipate the needs of persons with disabilities or may be the result of failure to properly care for a person with disabilities. Read more about injury representation for persons with disabilities.

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