Our work is organized through the following program areas:

Early Childhood

The Institute’s Early Childhood area conducts widely-quoted research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) prevalence, particularly in underserved communities. These programs provide in-depth training for parents, community leaders, and University of Minnesota students on the importance of early identification and intervention for individuals with ASD and on understanding developmental milestones. This program area also provides data on transition, community living, and employment outcomes for individuals with ASD. Learn more about ICI’s work in Early Childhood.

Educational Policy and Practice

The Educational Policy and Practice program area produces a broad array of nationally-recognized research and training opportunities designed to improve the K-12 educational experience and outcomes for students with and without disabilities. Areas of focus include improving national, state, and district assessments; evaluating and researching ways to improve special education policy and practice; making teachers more effective and schools more inclusive for students with disabilities, English learners and English learners with disabilities; improving literacy rates for at-risk students and lowering dropout rates. Learn more about ICI’s work in Educational Policy and Practice here.

Community Living and Employment

All people have the right to live, learn, work, and play. The Community Living and Employment area works to ensure that public policy and services are helping people with disabilities live their best lives in inclusive communities. Through applied research, policy advocacy, and training, we engage with individuals with disabilities, families, providers, policymakers, and community members to influence local, state, and federal policies and support individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. Learn more about ICI’s work in Community Living and Employment here.

Global Disability Rights and Inclusion

More than 1 billion people worldwide are living with some form of disability, according to the World Bank. ICI’s Global Disability Rights and Inclusion area advocates across the world for the right of people with disabilities to determine and direct their lives in an environment that values their contributions to schools, neighborhoods, workplaces, and community organizations. Learn more about ICI’s work in Global Disability Rights and Inclusion here.

Training and Education Programs

ICI is developing new leaders from racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse backgrounds through the Disability Policy and Services Certificate Program, the Minnesota Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (MNLEND) Program, the Advanced Rehabilitation Research Training (ARRT) Program, and other training, educational, and outreach efforts.


The Institute conducts collaborative projects with over 200 community organizations, K-12 schools, universities and colleges, service providers, government agencies, advocacy and self-advocacy groups, and professional associations around the U.S. and abroad.

Advisory Councils

The Institute Advisory Council serves as an internal advisory board to establish broad policies, evaluate the impact of the Institute within the University community, ensure continued University commitment to the Institute's work, and advise the director.

The Community Advisory Council serves as an external advisory board to review and recommend broad programmatic directions, evaluate the impact of the Institute within the state and region, serve as liaison and advocate for the Institute's involvement in community-based activities, and advise on critical areas of need that the Institute should address in future planning efforts. Community Advisory Council Members include consumers and family members, providers or directors of collaborating state and local agencies, and policymakers or senior staff from state agencies that collaborate directly with the Institute.


The Institute's activities are funded largely through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements from federal, state, and local government agencies as well as private sources. Matching funds are provided mainly by the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development and Graduate School. Core funding for the Institute comes from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Grant #90DDUC0070).