We have lived our commitment from Day One

Center for Independent Futures was established to help individuals with disabilities, their families, educators, and agencies plan, support, and sustain more fulfilling lives.

Our History

Center for Independent Futures was founded in Evanston, Illinois, by Kay Branz and Jane Doyle, two women raising daughters with developmental disabilities. Together, Kay and Jane navigated the challenges of the school system and advocated for programs and experiences that would prepare their children for the world beyond high school.

But when their daughters graduated, that world didn’t offer the supports and opportunities they deserved. Kay and Jane decided to create new solutions and develop innovative ways to support individuals with disabilities and their families. They founded Center for Independent Futures in 2002.

At our founding, we worked closely with a Massachusetts-based non-profit organization called Toward Independent Living and Learning (TILL). We embraced TILL’s model, which enables individuals with disabilities to become active, contributing citizens and live independently in their chosen communities. Later, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN) in Canada introduced us to the concept of Personal Networks. Northwestern University, our neighbors in Evanston, provided an invaluable resource during the development of our New Futures Initiative™, a process to create community-based housing options.

Today, Center for Independent Futures supports hundreds of individuals throughout the Chicago area and consults with organizations around the country. Our community includes our passionate and talented staff, our dedicated boards, a network of professional resources and partners, engaged families and individuals, and generous supporters. Thanks to the commitment of these groups, Center for Independent Futures continues to grow and pursue our vision of a future where all individuals have access to the opportunities of a full life.



We create innovative product and service models that give individuals with disabilities and their families the skills and opportunities to realize full lives.



We uphold a vision for the future where individuals with disabilities have access to all opportunities of a full life.

Core Values

Our Core Values

  • Equality: Individuals with disabilities have the right to access all of the opportunities of a full life in their communities.
  • Leadership: Individuals and families provide the leadership that drives our work.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration among individuals and families amplifies advocacy and expands resources.
  • Community: Building relationships and networks is essential to sustainable futures.
  • Innovation: Realizing full lives requires innovative approaches using both conventional and untapped resources.


Our Philosophy

Center for Independent Futures creates opportunities for individuals to access choice, experience, responsibility, and relationships through their own processes. Our goal is for each individual to reach his or her greatest potential and become a contributing member of the community.

  • Our models emphasize choice: an individual's right to make decisions based on his or her hopes and dreams.
  • We believe individuals learn best through experience: the opportunity to see, taste, touch, hear, feel, or try something firsthand.
  • Our products and services encourage responsibility: the right to have ownership of one's ideas, actions, and choices.
  • Most importantly, Center for Independent Futures' work is grounded in relationships: the ties and connections, whether familial, professional or personal, that strengthen and sustain us.

Volunteer your time and talent

Regardless of your expertise or experience, giving of yourself can change lives for the better and create new possibilities for those with disabilities.

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Give the gift of independence

Your tax-deductible contributions help us provide life-changing services, develop innovative solutions, and increase community education and outreach.