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Peer to Peer Mentoring Program Overview

One of the key foundations upon which independent living was established and continues to thrive, is the concept of learning from one's peers.

People with disabilities know best what works and what does not work for them. We believe that “experience is the best teacher" when it comes to operating a CIL or SILC as well. While peer support has long been a cornerstone of the core services of Centers for Independent Living (CILs), it has only recently been developed as an approach to providing training and technical assistance to CIL or SILC staff and boards.

What Does a Mentoring Include? 

  • A Peer Mentor, chosen by you because of skills and/or experiences similar to your requests, will make a two-day, on-site visit to your CIL to work with you, staff and/or board or council and then follow up through teleconferencing and email
  • -OR- You can visit the Peer Mentor's Site for two days with follow up to see how they run their programs,
  • -OR- Online/web trainings with your mentor. Whatever is best for your learning style and goals you set for your CIL/SILC.
  • Peer Mentors provide follow-up via phone and email and reports the final goals and progress made to the IL NET project for evaluation and quality assurance purposes.

How Much Does It Cost and How Do I Apply? 

  • If chosen for a competitive scholarship provided through ILRU and the IL-Net the entire $2500 fee of the Peer Mentor expenses including travel are covered; or vice versa- the mentee (your) travel expenses to the mentor's site would be covered.
  • Fee for service opportunities are available as well.
  • For more information about the CIL-to-CIL or SILC-to-SILC Peer Mentoring Programs, contact Mary Olson at P:406-243-5817 C: 406-544-1668 or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or email a completed CIL-to-CIL PEER MENTORING PROGRAM APPLICATION FORM or SILC-to-SILC PEER MENTORING PROGRAM APPLICATION FORM  to Mary. 

What CILs and SILCs are saying:

CILs and SILCs that have experienced this opportunity report, “I was very surprised to see this (as an offering) and looked at it as an opportunity - great thing for Centers to take advantage of.”

“It was very exciting and it came at a unique point for us - a new beginning where we can shape and mold the Center and go from there.”

“My interest was in having an outside presence who could talk to staff about customer service, CSRs, and the importance of clear documentation. My mentor’s info was not tied to a specific database, but was content-related and helped staff see new ways to talk to consumers and decide where to go for help.” 

“My overall impression was that I was talking to someone who was LISTENING. My mentor validated me!”

“I was concerned about serving rural counties and as a new director I had to learn everything. For me it was a game changer to put into place the tools we needed to move to the next level.”

“This was really worthwhile.  It’s great to have folks with experience who will share. It makes us all (CILs) stronger. It’s particularly great and interesting to hear what other states have done/are doing. It helps put things in perspective. We’re all different, but the same.”

“I am so glad to be a part of this. It is GREAT for new directors.” 

“She gave me a lot of ideas and resources on where to look for answers to the questions I had. Talking to an experienced director helped me to understand what the SPIL means and the roles of the board. I can call her whenever I have a question or something doesn’t feel right or like it’s the best thing for the SILC.”

“He really took the time to learn about the specifics of how our state operates in order to help me in this process. Questions still pop up, and he has made himself available to help me learn as I go.” 

 For Youth Peer Mentoring See:

Youth Peer to Peer




PRESENTED BY THE IL-NET: This project is supported by grant numbers 90ILTA0001 and 90ISTA0001 from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.

The IL-NET is a national training and technical assistance project for centers for independent living and statewide independent living councils. The IL-NET is operated by Independent Living Research Utilization (ILRU) in partnership with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL), the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL), and Utah State University Center for Persons with Disabilities. 

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