The Arcadia Institute

Making it possible for people with disabilities to be welcomed, supported and respected in their community

Our Mission: What We Do

Founded in 1994, the Arcadia Institute is a nonprofit organization based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our mission is to create opportunities for persons with disabilities to participate fully in community life and to make decisions about their own futures.

The Arcadia Institute has established itself as a thought leader in the community and the state of Michigan when it comes to the inclusion of those with disabilities.

We are committed to providing current, relevant, well-researched information, generated through training, publications and action projects.

Read more about some of the many projects, initiatives and publications The Arcadia Institute has been involved in.

Community Brokering

The main purpose of Community Brokering is to connect people with disabilities to live a full community life as they choose. This is done through the person working with a Community Broker who does three basis things: 1) gets to know the person, 2) facilitates Personal Future Planning meeting and 3) continues to follow up on the plan as needed.

The Community Broker is an employee of The Arcadia Institute who works through the process above to help people’s lives be focused on life in the community rather than disability specific programs and services. The areas of community life that are addressed are recreation, well being, housing and competitive employment.

Community Participation Initiative

The Community Participation Initiative makes it possible for children and adults with disabilities to participate fully in all aspects of community life, as they choose. The goal of the Community Participation Initiative is to create partnerships with community agencies that offer activities that are open to all citizens.

We then provide to these agencies the assistance they need to welcome and include people with disabilities. The Community Participation Initiative is funded through a contract with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Statewide Initiative

The Statewide Initiative was modeled after the experiences of the Community Participation Initiative in Kalamazoo. The purpose of the Statewide Community Participation project is to provide training materials, resources and consultation, hoping other communities can replicate the Community Participation Initiative.

The pilot partnered with four sites in Michigan: Community Living Services in Oakland County, The Arc Kent County, The Arc of Western Wayne County and Washtenaw Association for Community Advocacy.


The Arcadia Institute distributes information through a variety of media, including articles, books and presentations. We have also produced two videos:

For information about contracting with the Arcadia Institute for speaking engagements or to obtain a copy of any of our publications, please contact us.


In 2010, the Arcadia Institute initialized the “Building a Community of Belonging Forum”, which brought individuals and organizations throughout Kalamazoo County together to discuss the idea of “inclusion”. The fifth annual Forum will be held March 20, 2014.

The Arcadia Institute has been presenting our Community Participation Initiative at conferences around the state. In addition, we typically invite participants to present with us and share their perspective of how Community Participation has impacted their lives.

Dream Paths

This workshop offers guidance for people at key transition points in their lives as they try to make decisions about new directions. These transition points may include wanting to re-enter the world of work, wanting to do what calls forth your best effort, feeling a strong pull to pursue a dream, or needing a push to do a project that is important to you but which you’ve been unable to start.

The sessions will be organized around the following topics:
• Defining Your Dream
• Figuring out your path
• Building a support system
• Moving toward your dream

Each session will include individual and small group work, as well as interaction within the total group to exchange ideas and support each other.

The workshop will be facilitated by George Martin, President of the Institute. George has led leadership development workshops over the past 15 years, served as an advocate for people with disabilities for over 32 years and received his Doctor of Ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School.

For more information contact: The Arcadia Institute, 203 W North St., Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Contact George to indicate interest or ask questions: 269-254-8224.

Past Projects

The Arcadia Institute was initially developed to be an incubator for organizations and programs. Below are some of the initiatives that have come out of the Arcadia Institute over the past 15 years.

Supporting Families in Transition (1996-1999)

This three-year project created the Connections Council, a parent-run organization that has distributed over $50,000 directly to families, assisting them in making key transitions in the lives of their children. This organization continues to make funds available.

After the grant expired, the Council set up a contract with Kalamazoo Community Mental Health in which parents became Case Managers for their sons/daughters.

Parent to Parent of Southwest Michigan

This project was conceived because of one parent’s dream and determination to organize a program to reach out and support parents of children with disabilities. Visit Parent to Parent’s web site for more information.

Web of Self Determination Project (2002-2005)

This three-year council grant helped create a number of initiatives, laying the groundwork for our current Community Participation Initiative.

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