5 Wonderful Reasons To Give For Independent Futures

As the holiday season approaches, we are reflecting on a year of growth at Center for Independent Futures. Looking back on the year, we want to thank each of you for your support and suggest five reasons to add us to your year-end giving. Thanks to community members like you, the lives of more individuals with disabilities have been enriched and the reach of our community has expanded.

#1: We Combat Isolation & Exclusion

Individuals with disabilities face social isolation at a much higher rate than others. Through our Change Champions project, we partner with public and private organizations like public libraries and YMCAs to create cultures of inclusion. Over the last year, this program has introduced several community institutions to the strengths that individuals with disabilities bring to the table.

#2: My Full Life™ Classroom Innovation

woman leaning over to help student at a computerWe dream of a future where all individuals can share their gifts with the community of their choice. My Full Life™ is our innovative online solution to help teachers identify how students can reach their goals. With your continued commitment, educators access our innovative online curriculum to train life skills and identify the strengths individuals can bring into their communities.

#3: Hope for Hundreds with New Futures Initiative™

Challenges concerning housing and independent living support persist for individuals with disabilities everywhere. Our family-guided New Futures Initiative™ housing approach gives hope to groups across the country. From California to Canada, you help us make a difference in hundreds of lives.

#4: We Strive to Fill the Gap

In the state of Illinois, programs for people with disabilities continue to be underfunded year after year. However, the need for community-based solutions is greater than ever. With your help, we hope to help fill the gap that is left behind by diminishing state funding. Our robust activities and events calendar provides support for individuals with a variety of interests, including our whole community.

#5: We Are Committed to Person-Centered Solutions

Since our founding in 2002, Center for Independent Futures has been focused on the individual. We have always started at square one by asking each participant, “What are your hopes & dreams?” Thanks to supporters like you, we continue to be leaders in person-centered approaches today.

Adam poses with friends he has made through Center for Independent Futures

We have a lot to look forward to in 2019, including welcoming more family groups to New Futures Initiative training and sharing My Full Life™ with more schools and agencies throughout the country. We are dedicated to helping families live with greater peace of mind and sharing our resources with community leaders. With such a big year coming up, we know we will need your help. Please consider making a year-end contribution to Center for Independent Futures today. 

Creating Housing for People with Disabilities

For our loved ones with disabilities, the future is full of uncertainties around independent living. Center for Independent Futures has made it our mission to help families combat these uncertainties by helping you take the matter into your own hands through our New Futures Initiative™ Training. And, that’s why we host housing conferences featuring disability housing thought leaders from across the country.

Panoramic photo of crowd at conference on housing for people with disabilitiesOn October 12, developers, technology support creators, and architects joined us at National Louis University for Community Partnerships: Creating Housing & Support Options for Individuals with Disabilities. With an audience of over 100 family members and agency professionals, our presenters shared their experience and advice.

What We Learned About Housing for People with Disabilities

Micaela Connery stands at podium presenting to crowd about The Kelsey housing developmentKeynote speaker Micaela Connery came from the Bay Area to tell us about her organization, The Kelsey. Micaela highlighted how she and her colleagues are collaborating with local partners to develop apartments suited for inclusive communities. It is not Micaela’s goal to create housing that is for people with disabilities. Her goal is to create housing options that are inclusive of people with disabilities, where they can become part of the local community.

Other developers in attendance, like Three Oaks Communities from Michigan, are creating similar communities. Three Oaks Communities is creating inclusive developments where people with disabilities can own their home along with other home owners who share a vision for a neighborhood that welcomes people with a variety of capabilities.

Technology Supports Increase Independence

Technology innovators joined the conference this year too. Rest Assured, SimplyHome, and Night Owl Support Systems each gave a brief presentation on how their remote supports work. Each of these systems offers varying levels of independence and oversight. To learn more about these programs, visit their websites.

What to Watch For Next

3 family members from family groups in Coleman Foundation & Clearbrook New Futures Initiative partnership We offered a live stream of this conference for the first time ever! That footage will become available publicly in early 2019. Keep an eye out for the videos on our Facebook and YouTube accounts! And if you want to be the first to know when it’s available, subscribe to our monthly newsletter today!

Explore Housing & Supports with Experts

We are proud to announce our 2018 housing conference Community Partnerships: Creating Housing and Support Options for Individuals with Disabilities.

Join us at National Louis University’s Northshore campus on Friday, October 12th from 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, and hear from a variety of professionals working to create and support housing options for individuals with disabilities. Purchase tickets on the event page.

We are pleased to offer Human Service Professionals and Educators a certificate for 6 CEU/CPDUs for the day.

Options in Inclusive Community Housing

Young woman smiling into camera in front of blurred backgroundOur keynote speaker, Micaela Connery, is the founder and CEO of The Kelsey. Inspired by her cousin Kelsey, Micaela has been working on inclusion in communities her entire life. She has seen firsthand the housing crisis facing adults with disabilities and their families. She spent a year studying this issue in detail at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. The Kelsey exists to turn the challenge of disability housing into the opportunity of an inclusive community.

Community Partner Panels: Supports & Housing

Developers across the country are partnering with stakeholders to create supported alternative housing solutions. Representatives from The Kelsey, HODC, Scioto Properties, Rainbow Village, Movin’ Out and Three Oaks Communities will present how they are creating exciting opportunities.

Our remote support provider panel features Night Owl Support Systems, LLC, Rest Assured, and Simply Home. The panelists will explore how technologies are being used to support individuals with disabilities in living more independently.

Hear from families working to create community-based alternative housing options using our New Futures Initiative. With funding from The Coleman Foundation, we have partnered with agencies like Clearbrook  and the families they serve to work toward creating alternative housing options.

Engage Civic Leaders for Support

Former Oak Park Mayor David Pope Our endnote speaker, former Mayor David Pope, will share how you can effectively engage elected leaders and city administrators in your community. David now works with Oak Park Residence Corporation to create diverse communities in Oak Park.

Clark McCain (The Coleman Foundation) will provide closing statements on building community partnerships within our own communities.

Interested in learning about community-based housing alternatives? Don’t wait! Get your tickets for this conference today!

For more information and questions about registration, email our office or call (847) 328-2044.

Sponsors

Coleman foundation logo@properties logo with red @ sign

Welcome Back Families CCAN

Families CCAN logoWhen families of individuals with disabilities consider the future, one question looms large: Where will my loved one live, and who will support them to live the fullest life possible?

With the present housing crisis for individuals with disabilities growing, that is the question that Center for Independent Futures supports families to answer with the New Futures Initiative™. We help families of individuals with disabilities discover housing models that fit their needs, working with agencies like Families Creating Communities for Adults with Special Needs (Families CCAN).

Families CCAN is designing innovative housing models with families in Pennsylvania, using the knowledge and tools they learn from participating in our New Futures Initiative™ training. In 2016, Families CCAN brought their first family group to Evanston, where they toured our Community Living Options. They began to create a picture for their loved ones’ futures and went back to Philadelphia with the tools they need to bring their vision to life.

On May 19th and 20th, Center for Independent Futures is welcoming a second family group from Families CCAN to our office where they will begin the training to develop their own housing model. We are excited to continue building our relationship with this organization whose mission aligns so closely with our own. Two members of the Families CCAN team who observed the last family group training will co-lead this training as part of the process to become certified New Futures Initiative facilitators.

Throughout the weekend, the family group will have the chance to meet with our participants, staff, board, and other community members, as well as see our Community Living Options firsthand. After exploring different options, this group will determine their own vision and criteria before embarking on creating their own community living opportunities. Dr. Paul Arntson, Northwestern Professor Emeritus and Asset Based Community Development Emeritus Faculty Member, will join the training to share his expertise on community organizing and building, critical approaches that groups must apply in order to successfully reach their goals.

We can’t wait to meet this new family group. Our community is looking forward to this special visit!

Creating Inclusive Communities for All

Last month, the ARC of Illinois hosted their 68th annual ARC Conference. From April 25-26, service professionals, educators, and many others came together to discuss how we can “Unite, Empower, Act” to create an inclusive society with all opportunities available to individuals with disabilities. Coming together united, attendees were able to share new tools, new ideas, and best practices for supporting individuals.

Additionally, the conference offers individuals with disabilities the opportunity to share their stories, complete with struggles, successes, and dreams.

Center for Independent Futures staff pose after attending and presenting at ARC ConferenceCenter for Independent Futures staff made two presentations at this year’s conference. The first panel, titled “Creating Housing Solutions Through Community Partnerships,”shared information about our New Futures Initiative™ training. This program highlights our current work with family groups supported by a grant from the Coleman Foundation. The panel presentation featured families, service providers, developers, and supportive technology providers who shared how this collaborative approach can help families create new community housing solutions.

The second panel, led by Change Champions Project Director Kathy Lyons, focused on creating inclusive communities. Members of four diverse communities shared how they are creating inclusive communities for all, including individuals with disabilities. The Change Champions project, funded by a grant from the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities, illustrates what happens when we make inclusion a priority.

We would like to thank the ARC of Illinois for the opportunity to present our innovative solutions to problems facing the disability community today at the ARC Conference. If you would like more information about housing training or the Change Champions project, call us at (847) 328-2044.

Are You Ready to Unite, Empower, Act?

ARC Illinois logo, ARC Conference theme is "Unite, Empower, Act"What does it mean to “unite, empower, act?” At this year’s ARC of Illinois Annual Conference, from April 25-26, leaders in the field of disability inclusion and advocacy will consider what actions unite our community, empower us, and inspire us to act.

Center for Independent Futures staff are delivering two unique presentations at the conference. Make sure to catch both of these sessions for an inside look at how we are building community living options and fully inclusive communities.

First, on the 26th, Executive Director Ann Sickon is hosting a panel on our New Futures Initiative. In this discussion, you will have the opportunity to learn about our housing solution planning process from our agency partners, family group representatives, technology support providers, and developers. Discover what you can do as you look toward the need for alternative housing solutions. Ann and our panelists will tell you what individuals, families, and agencies are doing to support new community housing solutions.

When communities are fully inclusive, the entire community benefits — and that means we all need to work to include individuals with disabilities. In the afternoon of the 26th, Change Champions Program Director Kathy Lyons will present a panel featuring several Community Connectors. In this panel, titled “Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Need to Include Us,” attendees will hear from our partners in the Chicagoland community. During this presentation, you will learn about how organizations from four diverse communities are creating more inclusive cultures.

If you are attending the ARC of Illinois Conference, be sure to make time to learn about these creative initiatives. At Center for Independent Futures, we envision a future where all individuals can have an independent, full life. We are committed to innovative solutions toward that goal.

Still need to sign up for the conference? Register here to reserve your seat today.

California, Here We Come!

Logo for Club 21 in red with blue and green people illustrations to the left.With the bitterly cold weather hovering over the Chicago Area, three of the Center for Independent Futures staff will cheerfully head off to sunny California to present at the Annual “Tools for the Journey” Conference sponsored by Club 21 Learning and Resource Center. Club 21’s mission is to provide the educational tools and resources that enable individuals with Down syndrome to be fully included. Founded in 2009, the organization offers a variety of services for individuals and their families designed to support, educate, advocate and celebrate.

Meeting with Club 21

In April 2017, a phone call from Nancy Litteken, Club 21’s Executive Photo of Club 21 ED Nancy LittekenDirector, began our relationship with this eight-year-old California non-profit. We discovered very quickly that our values are the same, and that this organization has made incredible strides to support individuals and families in their area. As our conversations continued, Nancy and her team immediately saw the value of our Full Life Process™, and they are piloting the online application in California.

“We’re excited about this opportunity to bring our work to the west coast,” remarks Ann Sickon. “Nancy and her team are creative and innovative, and we anticipate a long relationship that will benefit both of our organizations.” Presentations at the “Tools for the Journey” Conference will focus on Center for Independent Futures’ Full Life Process™ online application, the Bridge Builders & Community Connectors Project to foster Community Inclusion, and our New Futures Initiative Training to create community-based housing solutions.

For more Conference information and registration, visit Club 21’s website.

Openings Available at Community Living Option

Current residents smile outside their Community Living Option.Home is a place where you can be yourself, make your own decisions, and have a place to call your own. If you or someone you know is looking for a new place to call home, Center for Independent Futures would love to share opportunities available in a Community Living Option. Located in Evanston, Illinois, this residence provides individuals with disabilities supports to live independently.

Accessible and Friendly Community Living Option

This Community Living Option has two openings in its first-floor, wheelchair-accessible apartment. The building is on a quiet street within close walking distance to restaurants, shops, public transportation, parks, a post office, and a library. It has free laundry facilities and storage in the basement. A staff member called a Community Builder lives on the third floor and provides overnight support, daily check-ins, weekly meetings, and social events planned with input from the community.

The apartment with openings has a total of three bedrooms and two Photo of Harrison House CLObathrooms, one recently renovated, a large-screen TV in the living room, and a dining room with a table big enough for community meals. One individual, Jonathon, currently lives in the first-floor apartment. Jonathon, who recently celebrated his tenth anniversary of living independently, is excited to welcome new housemates who are kind, thoughtful, and enjoy music.

New residents and their families would be able to get to know the community through their potluck dinners and other events, including a traditional Fourth of July cookout.

“Center for Independent Futures really creates a sense of community among the residents and their families,” Jonathon’s parents share. “Jonathon has prospered here.”

Find Support Within Community

2 members of CLO walk a dog together.Center for Independent Futures provides personalized supports for each resident using our person-centered approach to creating a full life. Our residential and educational model offers adults with disabilities opportunities to learn independent living skills in a safe and supportive environment. In addition to Community Builder support, each resident works one-on-one with a Skills Tutor to strengthen independent living skills. Together, residents and Center for Independent Futures staff foster individual choice and exploration while supporting community connections.

“Our son Cody moved in June and has enjoyed the independence of living onRoommates sit around a wooden table together. his own and the friendships he has made with his roommates,” Claudia and Kevin Conlon share. “There’s a sense of family with Center for Independent Futures, the supportive Community Builder, and the neighborhood. It’s a warm place and we are lucky to be part of it.”

If you think this community sounds like a good fit for you or someone you know, call us at (847) 328-2044. For more information about our Community Living Options, visit this link.

BLOG UPDATE: January 15, 2018 – In addition to the space at Harrison Street, a one-bedroom apartment will be available soon in the Chicago Avenue Apartments Community Living Option.

Philadelphia Organization Trains to Create Housing Options

When Sara Crimm heard about Center for Independent Futures’ New Futures InitiativeTM housing process, she decided to fly across the Midwest to see it for herself. Sara is the executive director of Families CCAN, an organization in Philadelphia led by families and individuals with disabilities seeking new solutions.

“I was following other housing projects across the country, and they were giving promises about visions and dreams, but there was nothing there. I looked at Center for Independent Futures and said wow, these people are really doing this. They have a track record,” Sara said.

Proven successful in our Community Living OptionsTM in Evanston, the New Futures InitiativeTM provides family groups and organizations with the tools and materials needed to create housing solutions. The process helps families tap into professional and community resources and offers the flexibility to create solutions that work for a range of support needs.

In November 2016, eight families gathered by Families CCAN came to Evanston to begin the workshops that make up the New Futures InitiativeTM training. During this trip, the families coalesced as a group, determined their methods of working together, and took inventory of their assets. For Lisa Nicholson and her husband, touring individuals’ homes was especially memorable. “Reading something and looking at a binder is one thing, but to see these young people in their own homes, and thriving—there’s nothing more impactful than that,” Lisa said.

When the group returned to Philadelphia, they began moving toward their vision using the tools they developed during the training. “Our meetings are productive and organized because of the framework, wealth of information, and guidelines about the timeframe of specific action steps. The structures Center for Independent Futures has provided are very powerful,” group member Amy McCann said.

As more members of the Families CCAN community prepare to take steps toward creating housing solutions, the organization will be ready to facilitate the process on their own. Two individuals are being trained by Center for Independent Futures to become process facilitators, providing Families CCAN with a sustainable way to continue creating solutions.

“We are really inspired by Center for Independent Futures,” Sara said. “Our vision for the future is to establish a variety of housing settings in Philadelphia that work for adults with disabilities. The more things that get developed, the better it is for everyone.”

2016 Annual Report Shares Stories of Connections

Center for Independent Futures is excited to share our latest annual report, sharing stories of our community and supporters. Read the annual report at this link!

In the 2016 annual report, you’ll find updates on our work with individuals, families, students, and other organizations. Read about how we support Nestor Gonzalez to live his dream of independence and how we’ve partnered with Equip for Equality to help students to plan for community life. Learn how we work with Lo Que Puede Venir to support Hispanic communities and get the update on our nationwide housing work.

The annual report includes a list of our supporters during the past year, including gifts given in tribute to or recognition of individuals. This edition of the annual report features a special update from Center for Independent Futures’ co-founders, reflecting on fifteen years of supporting hopes and dreams. We are grateful to all of our supporters and community members for another successful year building on this legacy.

 

Success Stories

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