History

Aspire Living & Learning is a private, non-profit human service and educational organization, serving individuals in five states. We provide treatment and supports for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, allowing them to live more fully and more independently in their communities.

Our organization arose out of the belief that everyone within our communities can add value and enrich the lives of all who live there, and that through high-quality, research-tested methods, we can enhance the life experiences of all individuals – both people with intellectual challenges as well as their families, friends, and neighbors.

Aspire Living & Learning started in Vermont in 1981 under the name The Institute of Professional Practice (IPPI). We emerged in response to the social policies of the 70’s and 80’s, when thousands of people with developmental and psychiatric disabilities left institutions and returned to their local communities. Once there, however, these individuals, their families, and community leaders realized that their neighborhoods were ill-equipped to provide the specialized services they needed.

At first, we simply offered technical assistance and consultation. But we soon received appeals from parent groups and government agencies to become a direct service provider, and we answered the call. Since 1981, we have continually evolved and customized our services to respond to the changing needs and interests of those we support – starting with individualized residential services, and eventually expanding our work to foster individuals’ participation in work, leisure, and civic activities in their communities. Those communities, in turn, have gradually expanded to cover four states.

Since 1981, we have continually evolved and customized our services to respond to the changing needs and interests of those we support.

In the 1990s, parents and educators once again looked to us when a growing number of children began to be diagnosed with autism, a once-rare disorder. In response, our service system grew to include a vast number of programs for children and young people on the autism spectrum — including early interventions for birth to age 3 and specialized supports for elementary, secondary and high school education.

In 2020, in advance of our 40th anniversary, we changed our name from IPPI to Aspire Living & Learning. We believe the name Aspire better reflects our compassionate, person-centered approach to our work, and speaks to the growth and transformation that we see every day in the people we serve.