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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

IL-NET T&TA Center Presents… A National Webinar: Know Your Resources — Orientation to the IL-NET National Training & Technical Assistance Center for CILs and SILCs

November 17, 2021; 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. Eastern

Register online

The IL-NET National Training & Technical Assistance (T&TA) Center operated by ILRU in collaboration with NCIL, APRIL, and the University of Montana Rural Institute and RTC: Rural, supports CILs and SILCs in building capacity to run strong, effective organizations. The IL-NET’s resources cover an expansive list of topics related to CILs and SILCs, with an emphasis on core services. The scope of the center’s offerings is broad. This webinar will highlight what’s new with the IL-NET and help you learn how to find the resources and training available through ILRU’s comprehensive website that best meet your needs. Our IL-NET team is here to assist you with finding the publications, recorded trainings, courses, and materials that will help you operate your CIL or SILC with excellence. 

Please join us for this complimentary webinar to learn what the IL-NET National T&TA Center has to offer you. Staff from ILRU will be joined by IL-NET collaborating organizations: NCIL, APRIL, and the University of Montana Rural Institute and RTC: Rural. The entire team will walk you through the trainings and resources the IL-NET offers and show you how you can best access them. You will learn about on-demand trainings and materials that are available immediately, as well as training topics for 2022 that you can add to your calendar. Don’t miss this free event!

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Verizon Forward for Good Challenge in partnership with Clinton Global Initiative University


This Challenge encourages teams of current undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at U.S. institutions, and Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) alumni, to leverage 5G and other leading-edge technology to advance equity within the U.S. in CGI U’s five focus areas (education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health). The initiative is part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental, and social advancement. The HBCU Founders Initiative and the United Negro College Fund are proud to join forces with Verizon and CGI U to inspire and support undergraduate and graduate students in tackling society’s greatest challenges across the five focus areas listed above through the Forward for Good Challenge. Finalists will receive access to intensive summer entrepreneurship training with accelerator partner VentureWell, seed funding, and living stipends to advance their solutions. 

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Webinar: Race, Disability, Organizational Culture, and Social Change: Promising Practices from Centers for Independent Living

October 28, 2021; 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT

Register online

Part of the RACE + DISABILITY webinar series, co-sponsored by FISA Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and The Pittsburgh Foundation

Historically, disability services were designed to accommodate a singular identity: person with a disability; all other aspects of an individual’s experience were considered secondary. But structuring services that ignore the lived experience of racism has created and exacerbated inequities within disability services. Treating disability as race-neutral has also created unwelcoming and sometimes unsafe working conditions for people of color with disabilities who are on staff.

This session will explore promising practices in cultivating a welcoming and equitable culture, designed to include people of color with disabilities who are both consumers of services and staff offering support. Presenters represent various Centers for Independent Living. All panelists are multiply marginalized people with disabilities who are recognized for their efforts to advocate for equity in both the provision of supports and the leadership of staff.

This session will:

  • Ground participants with professional and personal understanding of what intersectionality in disability services looks like;
  • Provide context regarding how attempts to provide services without an intersectional lens can cause unnecessary harm to consumers;
  • Present action steps that providers and managers can take to address existing equity gaps at their agencies.


  • Reyma McCoy McDeid
  • Ami Hyten
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NCIL Announces New Board President and Two New Board Members

NCIL is thrilled to announce the results of our recent elections to the Governing Board.

  • Kent Crenshaw has been elected Governing Board President
  • Larissa Martin has been appointed Diversity Chairperson
  • Joel Peden has been elected Region 8 Representative

Kent Crenshaw had previously served as Region 4 Representative and is the Executive Director of Independent Rights & Resources (IRR) in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition to his own extensive advocacy accomplishments, Kent is deeply committed to NCIL’s commitment to become a leading disability justice organization. We share our congratulations and appreciation with Kent, Larissa, and Joel. Keep reading to learn more about NCIL’s new Governing Board members.

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National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM), which is an opportunity for the US to recognize the vital role disabled people play in the workforce, kicked off earlier this month with the signing of a proclamation by President Joe Biden.  This year’s theme, “America’s Recovery: Powered by Inclusion,” rings especially true as the Independent Living (IL) network continues to engage in conversations regarding inclusion gaps in our own spaces.  We at the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) appreciate that the White House has an awareness of the challenges multiply-marginalized disabled people experience as members of the workforce:

Despite the progress our Nation has made in recent decades, people with disabilities are still too often marginalized and denied access to the American dream.  Americans with disabilities — particularly women and people of color — have faced long-standing gaps in employment, advancement, and income.  The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these inequities, as people with disabilities have faced heightened risks — particularly the disproportionate share of people with disabilities employed in the hardest-hit industries.  Our Nation will never fully recover and rebuild unless every single community — including disabled Americans — is fully included.

NCIL’s commitment to inclusion with an intersectional lens continues into NDEAM in a few exciting ways: this month, our executive director will speak to 1,000 Microsoft employees about her nearly twenty years of experience as first a participant-in-then-provider-of competitive integrated employment supports to disabled jobseekers.

NCIL continues to advocate at the federal level for Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would permanently reauthorize Money Follows the Person (MFP) and address systemic gaps in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS).  HCBS funds many services that support community living for people with disabilities, including competitive and integrated employment supports for countless jobseekers in the US. See our latest Advocacy Monitor post on the Reconciliation Package for more information.

And, to wrap up NDEAM at NCIL, we will be holding a panel feature three prominent employment experts from IL and beyond. The panelists will use their experiences and knowledge to discuss tips and tricks on getting the job and maintaining employment as a person with a disability. This intersectional and intergenerational panel will feature Moderator, Antoine Hunter, and Panelists, Bronna Crase, Brian Dennis, and Marie Dagenais-Lewis.  More details, including how to sign up for the panel, will be released soon.

Employment is essential to living independently- for everyone, including people with disabilities.  IL can play a pivotal role in the lives of those who are seeking to attain- and maintain- employment.  If your and/or your Center for Independent Living (CIL) have an IL-specific success story pertaining to disability and employment then we would love to share it!  Email us at to share your story or for more information.

One Week Away! Elevate: Campaign Training for People with Disabilities

Join us on Thursdays from October 14th to November 4th to learn the skills you need to run for elected office. Elevate: Campaign Training for People with Disabilities is a nonpartisan series of webinars bringing together campaign experts and elected officials to teach you how to run your first campaign. All webinars will have CART captioning and American Sign Language Interpreters.

If you cannot attend the live webinars, we will be recording and sharing each session. You will also have the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time so that we can answer them during the training.

You must be a member of NCIL to participate in this webinar series. Individual NCIL memberships are just $35 / year, and $10 / year for people ages 26 and under. NCIL does not turn anyone away for financial reasons. For dues waivers or reductions, contact Tim Fuchs at

Course Schedule:

Introduction to Campaigns, Self and Opposition Research

Thursday, October 14, 2021

1:00 to 2:30 PM Eastern

Your Story. Your Campaign. Your Brand Online.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

3:30 to 5:00 PM Eastern

POWER Fundraising: 5 Keys to Raising Money Confidently and Effectively (Even If You’re a First-Time Candidate and Never Fundraised Before!)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

1:00 to 2:30 PM Eastern

Organizing Post Obama, Trump, and COVID

Thursday, October 21, 2021

3:30 to 5:00 PM Eastern

Harnessing Your Power to Advocate for Change

Thursday, October 28, 2021

1:00 to 2:30 PM Eastern

Fundamentals of Digital Media

Thursday, October 28, 2021

3:30 to 5:00 PM Eastern

Campaign Outreach Methods: Paid, Earned and Owned Media, Direct Mail, and Email Marketing

Thursday, November 4, 2021

1:00 to 2:30 PM Eastern

Thank you to our generous sponsors for making Elevate possible!

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Application Deadline Extended for Vaccine Access Funding for Eligible Centers for Independent Living

Source: ILRU

Kimberly Tissot of Able South Carolina and Richard Petty of ILRU in Houston announced today the Disability Vaccine Access Opportunities Center (DVAO Center) is extending the application deadline to October 15 at 12:00 Noon Eastern Time for applications for grant-based funding to support vaccination access for people with disabilities across the nation. Centers for independent living (CILs) that were not funded through the CARES Act and that were not previously recipients of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding are eligible to submit applications. This group of CILs includes centers funded through Part B of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) and/or CILs funded with state and local funding. Awards for up to $50,000 through the vaccine access opportunity program for individual CILs are anticipated.

Interested eligible CILs are encouraged to apply for funding by completing an online application by 12:00 pm (Noon) EDT on October 15, 2021. The link to the online application is at

The Disability Vaccine Opportunity Access Center is a national center that will further vaccination access for people with disabilities. The prime recipient of the grant for this project is Able South Carolina, which as a center for independent living is a consumer directed organization. ILRU, an organization managed and operated by people with disabilities, is the principal partner and contractor. The DVAO Center will support local disability-run centers for independent living to assist people with disabilities to have full access to the vaccines that fight COVID-19. Funding for this effort is provided by the CDC Foundation of Atlanta, GA.

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Keep Taking Action for HCBS in the Reconciliation Package!

Negotiations about home and community based services (HCBS) in the reconciliation package are continuing in Congress. (You can read more about reconciliation in our previous alert.) The package that passed out of the House Energy & Commerce Committee funds HCBS at $190 billion, which is less than half the amount promised in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan. That is not nearly enough to meet the needs of disabled people across the country.

The situation is changing quickly, and the chances of reaching a deal seem to be fading as time passes. But we cannot lose hope, and we cannot stop pressuring our Members of Congress to invest in HCBS! We need to keep urging our Members of Congress to prioritize their disabled constituents’ needs in their negotiations.

Our Members of Congress need to remember the millions of our people stuck in institutional settings. They need to be reminded about the over 800,000 on waiting lists for HCBS – many who will wait years before receiving the supports and services they need. We cannot let them forget how hard congregate settings have been – and continue to be – hit by COVID-19. And they need to understand that the direct support workers who keep us safe in our homes – most of whom are Black and brown women – have been undervalued for years.

Improving wages and benefits for our direct support workers values the work being done and the people doing the work. Investing in HCBS is critical to protecting disabled people and our workers. And the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more urgent than ever.

Take action!

President Biden proposed a major investment in HCBS, and Congress introduced the Better Care Better Jobs Act (BCBJA) to put that proposal into action. We need Congress to fully fund HCBS in the budget reconciliation package! Our Members of Congress need to keep hearing from us as they continue negotiations and finalize the package.

Contact both your Senators and your Representative today! Tell them they MUST meet the needs of their disabled constituents and the direct care workforce in the reconciliation package!

More information – including how to contact them and a sample script – is below.

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NCIL Statement on CDC Funding for Vaccine Access

Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) provide critical core services to people with disabilities. Even though the core services are the same, CILs are not all funded in the same way. Some CILs receive direct federal funding through the Administration on Community Living (ACL). These CILs are referred to as “Part C” CILs. Many CILs get their funding through their States, which distribute the federal funds. These CILs are referred to as “Part B” CILs. The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) is committed to the entire Independent Living network, regardless of how services are funded. 

In March 2021, conversations began at the federal level about the need to use local networks, including CILs, to increase COVID 19 vaccine access to aging and disabled people. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) was looking for partnerships to specifically address vaccine access for aging and disabled people. When the CDC approached ACL, ACL indicated they would only be able to distribute those funds to Part C CILs. This is how ACL distributed CARES Act funds, even though NCIL had advocated to make those funds available for the entire IL network. NCIL and the CDC wanted to see vaccine access funds made available to all disabled and aging people. They did not want how the CIL serving their area was funded to further limit access. Based on this mutual goal, the CDC approached former NCIL Executive Director, Kelly Buckland, with a proposal to deliver funding to Part B CILs. CDC’s proposal was through a seven million dollar grant to be administered by NCIL.

These funds were not ultimately made available to NCIL for distribution to Part B CILs. In July 2021, the CDC Foundation announced the release of $6.3 million for aging and disabled vaccine access. The proposal submission deadline for this opportunity was one week after its announcement. NCIL was informed of this announcement several days after it was announced and, as a result, did not have the opportunity to submit a proposal.   

This week, ABLE South Carolina announced that, in tandem with Independent Living Review and Utilization, it had received the CDC Foundation grant. ABLE and ILRU will operate a center to support Part B CILs in addressing the systemic disparities from limited access to federal support for vaccine-related services and supports to their consumers. 

Under the grant, ABLE South Carolina and ILRU will distribute federal funds to address inequities and build capacity in the IL network nationwide. Since Part C CILs have had access to vaccine funds since April of this year, NCIL hopes the process for applications and timelines associated with distribution of the funds will be tangible for eligible members of the IL network.  Therefore, we urge ABLE South Carolina and ILRU to reconsider their October 7th deadline for funding opportunities to allow sufficient time for eligible CILs to complete the complex application process accordingly.

More information regarding ABLE South Carolina and ILRU’s Center, including its goals to assume responsibility on a national level for ensuring that the federal funding gap pertaining to vaccine access between Part B and Part C CILs is bridged, can be found here.

NCIL Statement on the Treatment of Haitians at the US Southern Border

In July of 2019, in response to the racist and xenophobic remarks publicly articulated by our then-president, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) released a statement of solidarity. The statement was in support of people attempting to enter the US via the country’s southern border. In that statement, we acknowledged that the racism which fueled the comments extended beyond that individual and into our organization. We made several commitments in that statement to move beyond simply writing platitudes. We seized the opportunity to publicly announce our intention to face the systemic oppression that racially marginalized disabled people experience. Our commitment included people at the US’s southern border and beyond, including within our organization.

Since then, NCIL has embarked on a journey to becoming an intersectional organization. That process has led to the transformation of its body of Executive Officers. Our executive board is now a committee where racially marginalized members are the majority. The Board hired a subject matter expert on racial equity and Black woman as executive director. Our Diversity Chair is a Black woman. Both NCIL’s ED and Diversity Chair are members of the IDD community. Soon, we hope to announce the name of our new governing board president, a Black man. Thanks to our partnership with the Ford Foundation, we are further able to prioritize intersectionality in our programming. Our work to re-fashion NCIL as an anti-racist organization is far from over. We recognize that work is never ending. We are humbled by the road ahead of us. We are enthusiastically working toward an independent living network that is intersectional and, therefore, truly inclusive.

Two years after we expressed solidarity with immigrants at the US’s southern border the US finds itself, once again, in a position where its actions are causing harm to racially marginalized people fleeing their homes in the hopes of safety for themselves and their families. This is despite a change in the administration in the White House.  Two years ago, the migrants were largely Latinx. The human rights violations included keeping people in cages. The violations included separating children from their adult loved ones. Today, those detention facilities remain in operation. Today, asylum rights still are not being honored. Today, the abuses include Black migrants. Today, the human rights violations Black immigrants are experiencing include being whipped by US Border Patrol agents. 

As we noted in our statement two years ago, the treatment of immigrants at the US’s southern border was reprehensible. Although the population targeted by this treatment today has changed, our assertion remains the same. Unlike the previous administration, the current administration at the White House has  pledged to ensure that immigrants to the US would be treated humanely, no matter their country of origin. The current Administration has highlighted racial equity as one of its original priorities. Today, NCIL calls on the White House administration to join us in following through with its own promises to racially marginalized people. The White House should heed the recommendations of the United Nations (UN) and stop expelling Haitian immigrants without first assessing whether they qualify for refugee status.