Two longtime disability nonprofits announce merger

Ally People Solutions and Community Involvement Programs (CIP) of Minneapolis have announced that they will merge, with the merger taking effect April. The merged organizations will continue providing programs and services under a new name, which hasn’t been announced.

Before the merger takes effect, the two organizations will host an event, 3-11 p.m. Wednesday, March 13 at Indeed Brewing Company, 711 15th Ave. NE, Minneapolis. The “Indeed We Can” fundraiser is regularly hosed by the brewery, with each Wednesday’s net proceeds donated to a local nonprofit, chosen and sponsored by an Indeed employee.

ALLY and CIP will host the event, which will include food, fun and prizes. A toast is planned to celebrate the upcoming merger. A program is at 5:30 p.m.

Changing times in the nonprofit world and the disability service system are driving the merger, which was announced in mid-January. A new government rate management system has resulted in lower service budgets for many people. The seven percent cut to Medicaid services in Minnesota is also a factor in the decision to merge.

The merger is a sign of the times in Minnesota’s disability community. Over the past several years agencies have combined to provide programs and services in the face of a challenging fundraising climate. The most recent merger was completed last month when East Suburban Resources (ESR) merged with Rise, Inc. Rise added 155 team members and began serving an additional 500 people last year as a result of the merge.

ESR, a nonprofit agency which provided services to people throughout Washington County, Minnesota, and St. Croix County, Wisconsin, officially became a subsidiary of Rise on July 1. The two agencies transitioned into a full merger by January 2019.

After more than 40 years of working in the vocational rehabilitation field, Ed Boeve, ESR’s executive director, retired July 1, 2018. He worked part-time through the end of the year to help the merger process. The ESR Board studied its options for a few months before opting to join forces with Rise.

The Arc Minnesota’s current configuration is another high-profile change. On January 1, 2018, chapters across Minnesota merged as one organization to provide consistent and essential services to support more people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

According to a letter sent out by ALLY President and CEO Bob Brick, ALLY and CIP leaders have been meeting to discuss how a merger can help clients of both agencies reach their goals. Discussions between leaders of the two agencies helped determine that Ally and CIP share the same philosophies in helping their clients succeed. More information about the merger will be announced in the future.

The merger will affect several hundred clients. “We are confident that with our shared values and more than 100 years’ of combined experience, ALLY and CIP will be able to increase opportunities for new or expanded services and stronger advocacy for the people we serve,” Brick said.

ALLY People Solutions, which is based in St. Paul, has provided services to people with disabilities for more than 50 years. It provides support and employment services to people with mental health and people with intellectual disabilities, along with opportunities for recreation and volunteer activities. It also helps employers find workers.

It was created in 1965 by families with adult children with intellectual painful option of institutional or foster care placement, these parents chose to care for their loved ones at home. Frustrated with the lack of support services, they rented space at Christ Child School in St. Paul for day activities. The all-volunteer effort provided a safe space for their children to learn and have social contact.

They outgrew the space and moved to the basement of Merriam Park Community Center and created Merriam Park Day Activity Center. Paid staff was soon added, and demand for services led to the need for another space. The program moved to St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood, and became Midway Training Services or MTS.

The program grew over time and changed its name to ALLY People Solutions several years ago. It has locations in Ramsey County and also works with people in Dakota County through the Dakota County Connex program.

CIP has its roots in organizing efforts in Minneapolis in the late 1960s, after leaders at Westminster Presbyterian Church sought ways to meet the needs of adults with developmental disabilities in their community. Associate Pastor Tom Zemek from Westminister Presbyterian Church attended a meeting of what is now The Arc. By chance, another member of the congregation, Peggy Tillett, was also at the meeting. There they learned about the needs of a number of adults with developmental disabilities in the community.

Some adults had moved home from state institutions to be with family but were in need of support. Other people who had been living with family for many years were anxious to start life on their own. What was needed was a supportive, supervised environment where people could learn independent living skills. The Apartment Training Program, which opened in 1971, was the first CIP initiative.

CIP now offers a wide range of services including employment and day services, case management, housing and home care services, personal support services and enhanced mental health programming. CIP incorporated as a nonprofit in 1971 and began providing services for people living with intellectual disabilities and people living with mental illness. CIP’s clients are in the Twin Cities and Pine County areas.

Combined, the two agencies provide more than 100 years’ experience.

For more information about the ALLY and CIP merger, check the organizations’ websites at www.allypeoplesolutions.org and www.cipmn.org.