The Institute on Community Integration (ICI) at the University of Minnesota pushes the edge of inclusion through an intensive focus on policies and practices that affect children, youth, and adults with disabilities, and those receiving educational supports. ICI’s collaborative research, training, and information-sharing ensure that people with disabilities are valued by, included in, and contribute to their communities of choice throughout their lifetime. ICI works with service providers, policymakers, educators, employers, advocacy organizations, researchers, families, community members, and individuals with disabilities around the world, building communities that are inclusive.

ICI is a designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, part of a national network of similar programs in major universities and teaching hospitals across the country. The Institute is home to over 70 projects and six Affiliated Centers, addressing disability issues across the lifespan.


ICI improves policies and practices to ensure that all children, youth, and adults with disabilities, and those receiving educational supports, are valued by and contribute to their communities of choice.


ICI’s work results in communities that are inclusive and where persons with disabilities, and those receiving educational supports, are included, belong, and have valued roles throughout their lives.


  • Inclusion – We recognize that all humans have the inalienable right to be included in all aspects of community life.
  • Diversity – We honor the wide range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, culture, language, physical or cognitive ability, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, social class, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.
  • Equity – We believe deeply in social justice that guarantees equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities for all people and that dismantles systemic disparities and unjust policies and practices that unfairly disadvantage individuals with disabilities and their families and English Learners and their families.
  • Self-determination – We believe that all people should have the degree of control they desire over those things in life that are important to them.
  • Data-informed practice and policy – We believe our work must be grounded in data to ensure maximum outcomes and use of public investments in programs and services for persons with disabilities, their families, and our communities.


The Institute conducts the following four core activities –

Interdisciplinary Education and Training, providing training for students, paraprofessionals, professionals, and leadership personnel seeking to better support persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Technical Assistance, offering training, consultation, and program evaluation services to enhance the capacity of existing agencies and services.

Research, improving policies and practices affecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families through applied research, conducted in collaboration with organizations, agencies, colleges, and universities around the globe.

Dissemination, sharing information generated by Institute projects and centers through newsletters, curricula, training materials, resource guides, reports, brochures, journal articles, books, websites, videos, social media, and other resources. Many research findings are translated into plain-language resources tailored to specific audiences, including people with intellectual disability, through the use of descriptive infographics, animation, and video interviews with our researchers.

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 (see the latest annual report PDF for a complete list).

Action and Advisory Councils

Community Advisory Council

The Institute's Community Advisory Council (CAC) is a diverse group of community leaders in disability that advises on broad programmatic decisions, evaluates the impact of the Institute’s work within the state and region, and helps guide the Institute's involvement in community-engagement activities. CAC members bring policy and advocacy skills, provider and practitioner perspectives, and lived experiences. Over half of the CAC members are persons with IDD or family members. As a group and individually, CAC members offer advice and counsel on broader cross-system and related priorities. They also provide feedback on ICI projects and products and make sure that we are on target to meet our goals. CAC members meet quarterly.

To learn more about the Community Advisory Council, please contact Macdonald Metzger.

Self-Advocate Action Council

The Self-Advocate Action Council (SAAC) comprises people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who identify as self-advocates, speaking up for themselves and others with disabilities. Most members are local but the Council includes representatives from Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered, the national organization of self-advocates, and others from outside of Minnesota. Members of SAAC have experience in advocating for change and are knowledgeable about the disability services system.

The SAAC serves three important functions: 1) ensuring new knowledge created by the Institute is accessible and useful to individuals with IDD, 2) assisting researchers in making sure they are asking the right questions of the right people in their research, and 3) participating in training and education programs, co-facilitating trainings as needed.

The voices and views of self-advocates are central to all phases of our research, training, and dissemination. Much of the knowledge translation efforts of the SAAC are shared on the Institute’s website,, using rich media and clear language to present information. SAAC members meet monthly to review materials for knowledge translation and participate quarterly in CAC meetings.

To learn more about the Self-Advocate Action Council, please contact Katrina Simons.

Land Acknowledgement

The Institute on Community Integration (ICI) collectively acknowledges that Minnesota is located on the traditional, ancestral, and contemporary lands of Indigenous people. As people residing on this land, we also acknowledge that it was cared for and called home by the Anishinaabe, Chippewa, Ojibwe, Dakota, or Northern Cheyenne peoples, and other Native peoples from time immemorial. Ceded by the owners of the land we now occupy in multiple treaties, this land holds great historical, spiritual, and personal significance for its original stewards, the Native nations and peoples of this region. We recognize, continually support and advocate for the sovereignty of the Native nations in this territory and beyond. By offering this land acknowledgment, we affirm tribal sovereignty and will work to hold ourselves and affiliations accountable to American Indian peoples and Nations.

Trauma Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the United States emerged out of profound historical, spiritual, and personal trauma for indigenous, minoritized, and oppressed communities in the United States, including people with disabilities. We hold this moment as a way to remember the generations of people who have endured systemic oppression since the nation’s founding, including the forced institutionalization of people with disabilities. We recognize and continually support the need for community-specific reparations or healing processes needed for healing to take place for violation of systematic policies against people. By offering this acknowledgment of trauma, we affirm the right of people to bring their whole selves and stories into this space and aim to use our resources and time to arrive at a more connected and respectful place in the world.


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).