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Inclusion. Access. Empowerment. Independence.

A man wearing a Packer shirt is sitting in a wheelchair and a woman wearing a red shirt with hearts is standing to the right of the wheelchair.  chair

Independence First  is Metro Milwaukee's first resource for people with disabilities.

We offer more than 40 programs and workshops and services of all kinds, and for various age groups. Independence First provides programs on disability awareness, independent living skills, and recreation. We work with individuals and families for whatever someone needs to successfully live in the community, helping with resources from assistive technology to home modification to personal care or supportive home care services.  

Independence First also provides programming, whether it’s art classes or cooking classes, peer support, and even adaptive video gaming.  More than 50% of our staff, managers, and Board have disabilities themselves and this peer-approach leads to excellent outcomes.

Our services include benefits counseling and Personal Care Support. We advocate for change and inclusivity, and help people who want to stay or move into an independent living situation in their own home instead of institutions.


Read our Annual Report to learn more.

Full Inclusion of People with Disabilities



As a Center for Independent Living, Independence First has a vision for full inclusion of people with disabilities in every aspect of our community and commits itself toward this end.


Our Mission

Helping empower individuals with disabilities through these five core services:


Independence First fights for change in systems that stand in the way of equal opportunity and inclusivity. We work with other advocacy agencies and with community leaders, employers, and the general public for awareness. Independence First also works with people to advocate for themselves in any situation that impedes equality.

Independent Living Skills

Independence First is dedicated to offering meaningful education and skills training that can help people to live more independently. We offer many options for individual as well as group programs, classes, guidance and support. 

Information and Referral

Independence First has complete access and knowledge of local agencies and efforts to help with various needs and we can provide information and referral to other sources.

Peer Support

More than 50% of our staff have disabilities and many work directly with people in the community seeking our assistance. This peer approach puts people who have first-hand knowledge and experience in touch with people seeking help. We also have trained volunteers who offer peer support.


Independence First will work for those who wish to leave nursing homes or other institutions and live independently in the community in their own homes. In addition, we also work with youth transitioning from secondary education into post-secondary life and adulthood and assist them with accessing the skills and information they need to be successful.

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