Center for Independent Futures supports adults with intellectual and
developmental disabilities in living out their hopes & dreams.

Our History

Founding Center for Independent Futures

In 2002, Kay Branz and Jane Doyle co-founded Center for Independent Futures. As women raising daughters with developmental disabilities, Kay and Jane navigated the challenges of our school systems. Together, they advocated for programs and experiences that could prepare their daughters for the world beyond high school transition programs.

But when their daughters graduated high school, the world didn’t offer the life skills development support or opportunities they deserved. This realization led Kay and Jane to co-found Independent Futures. They developed innovative ways to support individuals with disabilities and their families. 

Center for Independent Futures’ Philosophy

Our daily work consists of providing individual support to over a  hundred individuals throughout the Chicagoland area. However, CIF also consults nationwide with other agencies focused on person-centered planning. 

The Full Life Model™ is the lens through which we view an individual’s opportunities and full life. Surrounded by 8 essential aspects of a full life, an individual’s hopes and dreams are at the center. Our person-centered planning takes into account an individual’s hopes. Then, we support the individual to create learning goals based on the full life circles.

Informed by the Full Life Model, Life Skills Coaches use My Full Life™ to support individuals in creating their individual goals. Next, coaches mentor individuals to create action plans and identify the skills they need to achieve their dreams. The Skills Inventory provides an opportunity for individuals to comprehensively define skills they have already begun or mastered and determine which additional skills they may wish to acquire.

Individual Support For The Future

Today, our community includes our passionate and talented staff, a dedicated Board of Directors, energetic Young Professionals Board, informed Advisory Council, a network of professional resource partners, engaged families and individuals, and generous supporters. 

Thanks to the commitment of these groups, Independent Futures continues to grow 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

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, 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.

Volunteer »

Give the gift of independence

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

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