Peer Support for Centers for Independent Living Building Employment Services

Open to Centers for Independent Living


DETAC is accepting rolling applications for this community. Please refer to application deadlines under “Session Structure and Schedule” below.



CILs can make a big impact on consumers’ employment outcomes. Join us on the third Thursday of each month to share your successes, struggles, resources, and hopes for your employment programs with your peers around the country. Everyone who joins this group is both an expert and a learner, so no matter what your programs currently look like, this group is for you. Each month will have a loose topic, however, feel free to bring any barriers or ideas to the Zoom meetings as you need.  With community, we are stronger!


This is a peer-to-peer discussion-based community and our expert facilitators will guide conversation and share resources as applicable, but there won’t be formal presentations.


Session Structure and Schedule:


There will be a total of seven virtual sessions for 1 hour that will be facilitated monthly.

  • Launch meeting/Session One: February 15, 2024 (COMPLETE)
  • Session Two: March 21, 2024 (COMPLETE)
  • Session Three: April 18, 2024 (COMPLETE)
  • Session Four: May 16, 2024 (COMPLETE)
  • Session Five: June 20, 2024 (applications due 6/14/24)
  • Session Six: July 18, 2024 (applications due 7/12/24)
  • Session Seven: August 15, 2024 (applications due 8/9/24)

Time: 2:00-3:00 PM ET


Session Links: Zoom Meeting links will be provided once grantees have been accepted into the e-Learning Community. The contact person(s) listed in the application will be notified via email. If you need an accommodation to participate in the cohort, please note in the application or send an email to us at the Gmail provided below. Accommodations for the e-Learning Community will be provided based upon request. The links will be sent from the DETAC’s Gmail Account, AoDEmploymentTA@Gmail.com.


Topics include:


  1. Getting Ready to Work: Supporting consumers to think about and prepare for employment.
  2. Retaining and Maintaining Work: Programs and skills for consumers to succeed in the workplace.
  3. Partnerships that Pay: Community partners or fee for service for funding, donating, or otherwise supporting your programs.
  4. It’s Not All About the Money: Volunteers, peers, job shadows and Interns, your CIL and building non-paid opportunities.
  5. Early Birds Get the Work: Employment and school aged programs and services.
  6. A Deep Dive into Technology and Employment: Resumes, networking, and online job searching.
  7. That’s A Wrap: Bring all your employment resources, questions, and successes you have been working towards.

Interested grantees (CILs) should complete the application form. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis up to 1 week in advance of each session. If you are approved to participate, you will receive information for all future sessions in the community – not just the individual, upcoming session. Once you are approved to participate, you do not need to re-apply for individual sessions.

About the Facilitators:


Facilitators: Dr. Lidia Fonseca and Elissa Ellis from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL).


Dr. Lidia Fonseca is the Director of Programs at Valley Association for Independent Living (VAIL), located in south Texas. She has served her community as a disability justice advocate and provides overall supervision, management, development, and implementation of programs at her center. The programs that she has developed have helped promote the independent living philosophy, consumer control, and systems change so that independent living is possible for all persons with disabilities. Dr. Fonseca’s advocacy efforts are related to the discussion of issues that relate to equity in the workplace, accessible transportation, and leveraging resources among community partners. Dr. Fonseca has a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitative Services from The University of Texas Pan-American, a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Texas Tech University, and a Doctorates degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She has 10 years of experience in the independent living field. Her focus is on public policy changes that promote disability rights. Her interests are in emergency management, resource development, expansion of employment services for people with disabilities, and training on leadership and advocacy.

Dr. Fonseca serves as the President of TEXCIL, an association of centers for Independent Living in Texas, which provides technical assistance, training, and resources for centers across the state. She also serves as the President of the Regional Transportation Advisory Panel (RTAP), in which she advocates on the accessible transportation needs in the rural areas that VAIL serves and is also serving as an APRIL board member.


Elissa Ellis works at The Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) as the Director of Operations.  Elissa is a 23-year veteran of APRIL who has her finger on the pulse of national CIL / SILC membership and has a great understanding of frontline CIL / SILC staff.  Working closely with APRIL Members, she understands the importance of peer support and the Independent Living philosophy.  Having spent her entire life living in rural America, Elissa understands the unique challenges facing people with disabilities living in rural, often isolated communities in America.  She brings a wealth of knowledge and resources to the conversation.