FYI, the Institute on Community Integration Staff Newsletter

October 2013

RTC Enters 26th Year as National Research Center on Community Living

This month, the Institute’s Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC) began its 26th year of operation with the award of renewed five-year funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education. The RTC is NIDRR’s designated national center on community living and participation for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The center’s new $4.4 million grant will allow it to continue its mission of conducting research, training, technical assistance, and dissemination that improves the lives of people with disabilities. “We’re honored to receive this renewed funding, and we will do our best to continue to do work that is meaningful to people with disabilities and their families so we are worthy of such an award,” says RTC Director, Amy Hewitt.

The RTC views community living and participation as a complex and evolving construct. This complexity comes from the reality that people live and participate in different contexts and view life through a variety of cultural and linguistic lenses. Given this complexity, community living and participation are conceptualized as including many critical elements: (a) where and with whom a person lives; (b) where a person works and how they earn money; (c) what a person does during the day; (d) the quality of relationships developed with others; (e) with whom a person does things of personal interest and what those interests are; (f) a person’s health (physical and emotional); (g) where and with whom they worship; (h) a person’s interest and opportunity to engage in learning and personal growth; and (i) their ability to make informed decisions about their life. Over the next five years the RTC will continue to focus on essential needs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities related to community living and participation.

The RTC’s role in addressing essential needs will be to contribute to improved understanding, practices, and public policy. Among its many specific goals for this work are:

  • Conduct research that contributes new knowledge in the area of community living and participation for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

  • Train graduate students to develop research, critical thinking, and interdisciplinary skills that equip them to be the next generation of researchers influencing policy and practices in relation to people with disabilities.

  • Implement training programs that equip Direct Support Professionals, self-advocates, and families to improve community living and participation for people with disabilities.

  • Provide technical assistance that responds to the needs of service providers, policymakers, and advocates who are interested in improving policy and practices regarding community living for people with disabilities.

  • Engage individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and family members in all activities of the RTC, which includes working with them to translate RTC research into training programs, publications, and a variety of online services and resources that are user-friendly and accessible to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, and a variety of professionals.

“RTC staff are excited to implement our new program and we look forward to working with our partners and the many communities with whom we collaborate,” says Amy.

FFI, contact Amy Hewitt at or 612-625-1098.