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Washtenaw United: The Ann Arbor Center For Independent Living

Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living

The way we’ve developed the world isn’t always fully accessible. For those with challenges, accessibility remains an issue. WEMU's David Fair introduces you to two men who are helping open doors for those who often felt locked out. Alex Gossage is interim executive director for the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Livingand Will Purves is director of planning and program development.

Alex Gossage: Alex Gossage is Interim Executive Director at the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living (Ann Arbor CIL).  He started in November of 2004 after working at the Center as an unpaid volunteer and then as an Americorps*VISTA volunteer until November of 2006.  As the Americorps*VISTA Grants Team Associate he was responsible for actively researching and presenting grant opportunities, develop program ideas into grant proposals, and the preparation and curation of background and organization documentation.  During his two years as an Americorps*VISTA, Mr. Gossage also facilitated group-based activities, developed marketing informational materials, and evaluated programs to gather both qualitative and quantitative data.

Mr. Gossage works on a wide range of programs and responsibilities.  Mr. Gossage helps to ensure program reporting and compliance for all CIL funding sources including Federal, State, and private funders.  Mr. Gossage maintains a resource library and knowledge base of private and public funding sources and current grant-funded projects at the Ann Arbor CIL.  In collaboration with staff, he coordinates scheduling of proposal development activities and assists staff with project development and proposal preparation activities including; researching, writing and editing proposals.

Mr. Gossage fundraising responsibilities extend to assisting with resource development activities such as special events fundraising, volunteer recruitment including oversight of the AARP volunteer program, and assisting with the annual giving campaign.  Other responsibilities include: coordinating new outreach efforts, taking on urgent projects, and more.

Mr. Gossage earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and History at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the Spring of 2004.  During his employment at the Ann Arbor CIL Mr. Gossage has participated in a variety of grant development trainings presented by: The Foundation Center, The Grant Institute, and The Grantsmanship Center.

Will Purves: Will’s career encompasses a series of overlapping worlds: non-profit management, teaching, school administration, teacher education, game design, writing & editing, non-profit consulting, carpentry, and work with hundreds of students planning and thinking about their future.  He moved to SE Michigan in 1992 after living and working in Colorado, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, earning degrees at various levels in Anthropology, Geography, Urban Planning, and Gaming & Simulation Design.  He was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2000, and has steadily lost vision since.  He often can be found writing poetry, making and playing games, spending time with his family, and tending backyard chickens.

UWWC PARAGRAPH STATEMENT ON TOPIC: United Way of Washtenaw County’s Financial Stability Fund provides grants to support work to advance our Financial Stability Goals:  Advance the economic well-being of folks who are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained but Employed).  Over 136,000 people in Washtenaw County struggle to meet their basic needs, and UWWC prioritizes our services for these folks.

Increase opportunities for individuals and communities to increase their economic asset base through education, coaching and practice Bolstered with funds from our annual Power of the Purse event (which raises fund to support the selfsufficiency of women), the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living’s EmpowerYou program accomplishes these goals by empowering women of color with the tools to start their own businesses.  EmpowerYou program utilizes: financial counseling; training and educational assistance; trade sharing; assistance with taxes, financial planning, and resource acquisition; and mentoring and coaching.  EmpowerYou consistently helps people build employment and employability skills, connect job hunters with employers, and navigate the sometimes complex world of starting a business.

AACIL's clients may have a wide range of disabilities: visual, auditory, mental, emotional, cognitive and physical.  According to recent data and conservative estimates, there are an estimated 2000 women with disabilities in Ypsilanti and 5000 in Ypsilanti Township.  These women tend to live at or below the poverty level at rates much higher than the rest of the population in the county.  EmpowerYou serves these intersecting groups of women and be a long-term resource to help them increase their income. “If black business ownership and performance improved to white levels, total earnings inequality in this country would drop by roughly 20 percent,” (Fairlie, 2008).

EmpowerYou equips women who lack the business skills needed to increase their income and work outside of their limitations (eg. single parent, day care).  “If we’re serious about wanting to reduce wealth inequality in this country, helping black entrepreneurs succeed is a worthwhile investment,” Fairlie added.  EmpowerYou provides mentoring, internships, and apprenticeship-type training to help would-be business owners of color acquire necessary and relevant skills as a substitute for the lack of opportunities to work in a family business.


The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living

A2CIL Mission

A2CIL Programs and Services

United Way of Washtenaw County

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu
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