About Us

More than you think.

It’s a simple phrase. But it hits the mark. The disability label. The people behind that disability label. Their accomplishments. And our organization.

The Ann Arbor CIL is more than you might think.  Every day, we impact the lives of individuals with disabilities living in our community.  We help them to achieve fuller, more successful, and more meaningful lives, and we foster a true place of community and belonging.

We are a growing and dynamic community enrichment, learning, and advocacy center.  Through individualized counseling, advocacy efforts, skill-building classes, recreation and arts programming, and more, we help individuals with disabilities to build their skills, advocate for what they need, find friends, and feel at home.

We are proud of the many ways we bring meaning to our community and improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities.  Each year, we impact the lives of over 4,000 people throughout Southeast Michigan, including people with disabilities, their families and friends, and members of the business community.

We are a fun and dynamic staff of caring and passionate individuals.  Founded in 1976, we were the fourth Center for Independent Living in the country and the first in Michigan.  With now more than 600 Centers for Independent Living around the country and throughout the world, we are a recognized leader in improving the ways people with disabilities live their lives.

Our areas of focus include:

In addition to our Ann Arbor office, we have an affiliate location, the Monroe Center for Independent Living, in neighboring Monroe County and have a staffing presence in Livingston County.

We invite you to learn more about our organization and the people we impact.

What is the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living?

How We’re Different

At the Ann Arbor CIL, we believe the best way to help individuals with disabilities advance their lives is through peer support.

What does that mean? Well, we believe the best person to help someone with a disability is another person with a disability. At the Ann Arbor CIL, we are a place for individuals with disabilities to come and get help from someone who’s been there, who’s lived it, and who’s been through it. Someone who can say, “I understand what you’re going through. This is what worked for me.”

By charter, over 50 percent of our staff and Board members must have a disability. This is a no-brainer for us. Not only do people with disabilities make great leaders and employees, people with disabilities provide the best help for other people with disabilities. We’ve been there. We’ve been through it.

Come to the CIL to see what we’re all about. Join in one of our classes. Talk to one of our staff members. Participate in one of our recreation events. Or just spend time in our Gathering Place. You’ll see. We are a place of community. We are a place where disability is no big deal. And we are a place to feel comfortable and just be yourself.

The Ann Arbor CIL is a place where people with and without disabilities come together and show that seeming barriers can be overcome, that success is achievable, and that life is made better by coming together.

Community Support

Our operating budget has grown from just $60,000 in 1976 to $2,558,000 in 2010. Over the last ten years the Ann Arbor CIL has been awarded $6,127,417 in federally based grant funding and $6,127,130 in funding from the state of Michigan in support of our mission.

The work of the Ann Arbor CIL is well respected locally, in Michigan and across the United States. We have received funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Corporation for National Service, the State of Michigan through Michigan Rehabilitation Services, the City of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Presbyterian Committee on Self Development of People, Washtenaw United Way, Monroe United Way, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the Ford Motor Fund, the Buhr Family Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, Pfizer Corporation, many local and regional businesses and corporations, as well as contributions from individuals to our Annual Campaign and major gift Transformation Society.

We have many private donations. For more information on donating to the Ann Arbor CIL, visit our Fundraising page.

Q & A

Is the Center for Independent Living a residential facility?

No! We promote the success of individuals with disabilities in our community and offer support in achieving full and meaningful independent lives. We understand our name can be misleading. Independent Living refers to a philosophy developed by disability activists, supporting a individual’s right to make decisions about their living situation, goals and other issues. Our Center is our Gathering Place, a community space to enrich our lives.

Can the AACIL provide me with money?

The Center for Independent Living can direct you to sources of emergency food, clothing, furniture and other staples. There are a few agencies that can provide cash assistance, particularly to prevent eviction from housing or utility cut-offs. We can help individuals identify and reach out to those organizations. Sometimes we receive donations of medical equipment or other goods, and can pass them on to people who need them. However, we are never able to give people money, no matter how deserving they may be.

Is the Center for Independent Living part of Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS)?

No, we are a private non-profit organization. We do accept referrals for services from MRS though.

By the Numbers

  • Those we served, by age: Under 5: 1%
    5-19: 8%
    20-24: 9%
    25-59: 70%
    Over 60: 12%

  • By gender: Female: 53%
    Male: 47%

  • By race or ethnicity: American Indian: < 1%
    Asian: 2%
    African-American: 26%
    Hispanic: < 1%
    Native Hawaiian: < 1%
    Two or More Races: < 1%
    White/Caucasian: 71%

More Numbers

  • In 2009, 2,472 children, youth, and adults with disabilities received 4,692 independent living support services. On top of that, more than 2,000 individuals benefited from our Disability Awareness and Sensitivity Training programs at local schools, universities, and organizations.

Other CILs


  • If you are a media representative and can’t find the information you need on this website, please contact Carolyn Grawi at carolyn@aacil.org or (734) 971-0277 x16.

Job Openings @ AACIL

  • We currently do not have any open positions, however we always welcome expressions of interest in working for our organization. Individuals with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply for positions at the Ann Arbor CIL!

    The best way of expressing your interest in working for our organization is to start by volunteering! For more information on volunteering opportunities, contact Alex Gossage at Alex@aacil.org or (734) 971-0277 x25.


  • “Your organization is first-rate! Everyone at the Ann Arbor CIL are helpful and caring, which doesn't happen very often in today's world.” Ann Arbor CIL Consumer Survey, March 2010.

Community Support

  • City of Ann Arbor and United Way Logos

About Us

  • Founded in February of 1976, we were the fourth Center for Independent Living in the nation. There are now more that 600 CILs across the U.S. and throughout the world.

Understanding Disabilities

  • At the Ann Arbor CIL, we understand first-hand what it means to have a disability. That’s because we, too, face the challenges of disability every day. Over fifty percent of our staff, board members and volunteers are people with disabilities.

Who’s Part of Our Disability Community?

  • 1 in 5 people have a disability. In Washtenaw County, there are over 38,000 individuals with disabilities.

  • People with disabilities encompass more than you think:

    ADD / AD/HD
    Agent Orange
    Autoimmune Disorder
    Back Injury
    Bipolar Disorder
    Blind/Visually Impaired
    Bone/Joint Disorder
    Brain Disorder
    Brain Injury
    Cancer/Cancer Survivor
    Cardiovascular Disorder
    Carpal Tunnel
    Cerebral Palsy
    Chemical Sensitivity
    Cognitive Impairment
    Deaf/Hearing Impaired
    Developmental Disability
    Emotional Impairment
    Kidney Disease
    Learning Disability
    Mental Health Challenges
    Morbid Obesity
    Multiple Sclerosis
    Muscular Dystrophy
    Organ Transplant Recipients
    Parkinson’s Disease
    Post-Polio Syndrome
    Pulmonary Disease
    Short Stature/ Little Person
    Sleep Apnea
    Spinal Cord Injury
    Substance Abuse

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