DETAC Announces New Results and Innovation in Systems Excellence (RISE) Peer e-Learning Community: Peer Support for Centers for Independent Living Building Employment Services

Open to Centers for Independent Living





APPLICATIONS DUE: January 19, 2024, 5:00 PM ET
LAUNCH MEETING: February 15, 2024, 2:00-3:00 PM ET


Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can make a big impact on consumers’ employment outcomes. Join us on the third Thursday of the 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!


Session Structure:


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

  • Launch meeting/Session One: February 15, 2024
  • Session Two: March 21, 2024
  • Session Three: April 18, 2024
  • Session Four: May 16, 2024
  • Session Five: June 20, 2024
  • Session Six: July 18, 2024
  • Session Seven: August 15, 2024

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:


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

Interested grantees (CILs) should complete the application form. Registration is required by 5:00 PM ET January 19, 2024.



About the Facilitators:


Facilitators: Mary Willard and Sierra Royster from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL).


Mary Willard has been the Director of Training and Technical Assistance for APRIL since 2014. In her role, she helps support CILs and Statewide Independent Living Councils (SILCs) to serve people with disabilities to the best of their abilities through peer support opportunities, training opportunities, and through her partnerships on projects with the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities  (RTC: Rural) at the University of Montana and other allied organizations. Her favorite part of her job is helping to identify needs in the community and offering platforms and opportunities to elevate all your voices in the field to help find solutions.  With community, we are stronger!  Previously she worked at Summit Independent Living Center as the Peer Coordinator, where she worked on curriculums for youth with disabilities and creating programming for youth, as well as running the peer support program training, supervising, and creating opportunities for peer supporters. She was an APRIL youth Peer Mentor for seven years, assisting several CILs across the country to start, troubleshoot, or grow their youth programs, as well as helping to plan and execute the APRIL youth conference as a volunteer. Mary received her Master’s in Social Work in 2014, during which time she also worked at the Rural Institute on Disability and Research as a Student Research Associate. She spent four years on the executive committee of the Montana SILC, two of which were spent as the chair.


Sierra Royster works at APRIL as the Director of Innovation. She works with other national disability organizations to develop training material and new opportunities for CILs and SILCs. Having come from a Center for Independent Living herself, she understands the importance of creating opportunities for CILs to create connections and peer support to make a large effect on their local communities. She uses this experience to identify gaps and needs within independent living and create programs or services to address them.  She strives through all aspects of her position to ensure that rural areas are included in disability services, rights, and programs to create a larger outcome in the community.


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