Core Programs

What Makes Us Unique

Project Independence was founded on the belief that people with disabilities possess the potential to live and interact in their communities, and that by listening to the hopes and dreams of people we serve, we can help them realize those dreams.

  • Independent Living Services
  • Supported Employment
  • Work Incentive Planning

Independent Living

Our Independent Living program has assisted hundreds of people who have taken those bold steps to move out of group homes, family households, and other facilities, into homes – and lives – of their own.

Each step of this journey is taken with the support of Project Independence staff, from deciding where to live and picking a roommate, to providing whatever tools are needed to take those successful steps toward independence.

From benefits and budgeting, to planning menus, grocery shopping, and helping prepare meals, to prioritizing housekeeping and laundry tasks, at each step Project Independence staff listen to the needs of the people we serve.

People we support choose the services they want and need. Project Independence staff help to ensure that peoples’ needs are met while always encouraging and fostering independence and choice. We also provide Supported Independent Living services for clients with more significant needs that require 24/7 support. 

Staff clothes shopping with Trevor and Ellen,

Ellen’s Story

Ellen has been receiving IL services from Project Independence since August of 1999. She had lived with roommates for several years before Project Independence was able to help her move into her own one-bedroom apartment in July of 2013 at Vista Del Rio in Santa Ana. Ellen receives assistance with benefits as needed, shopping, housekeeping, medical appointments, and socialization opportunities. Ellen is very happy living independently and is always helpful to neighbors in her community. (Photo: Staff clothes shopping with Ellen and Trevor.)

Supported Employment

The Project Independence Supported Employment program is based on the idea that, in creating a successful job match, a person with a developmental disability can do the job he or she was hired to do. Our job is to provide whatever the person needs to be successful, from assistance with the job application process, extra skills training, establishing priorities and creating task schedules, to educating employees at the job site and building natural supports. Project Independence provides flexible on-site assistance that varies depending on the needs of the client. Some clients have job coaches with them 20% of their work time while others have job coaches that check in monthly to make sure there everything is okay.

Clients work for employers such as The City of Irvine, Albertsons, Ralph’s, Rite Aid, Sav-On and Target. This program develops jobs and then matches up the skills of clients to the needs of the employers. Project Independence acts as a liaison with the employer, aiming to create stability with the employer / employee relationship.  This program serves 190 people as they work at real jobs for real pay. Currently, 40 clients are waiting for placements. If you are an employer and would like to know more about how this program works, visit our Hire Dedication page.

John’s Story

John is celebrating another year of independence… working at Fletcher Jones for the last 9 years! He loves working with his job coach at Project Independence who has helped him stay independent and successful at his job for all those years and he loves working with his friends John and Alfonso keeping customers happy!


Work Incentive Planning and Assistance is a grant awarded by The Social Security Administration to local organizations to provide work incentive planning services for beneficiaries in cash payment status for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or Social Security Childhood Disability Benefits (SSCDB), previously called Disabled Adult Child (SSDAC).

Anyone who is currently receiving cash payments under one or more of the following programs: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Social Security Childhood Disability Benefits (SSCDB) – also known as Social Security Disabled Adult Child (SSDAC) AND is either: Working, Looking for work, or Thinking about looking for work. All services are free of charge! There is never a cost for any of the services provided by Project Independence under the WIPA project. CLICK HERE for more information about the Social Security Administration’s WIPA program.

Program Intake Process

Project Independence is a vendor of the Regional Center of Orange County (RCOC); adults with developmental disabilities in Orange County that need independent living services, supported employment services or day program services that are clients of RCOC can be referred to Project Independence by their case manager. Project Independence then meets with the client and their circle of support to see if our nonprofit will be able to meet their needs, and if so, they become a Project Independence client. For our Supported Employment Program, we accept referrals from both Regional Center of Orange County and the California State Department of Rehabilitation.