L'Arche Chicago

Come and See

Forest Park, IL   |


We are people, with and without developmental disabilities, sharing life in communities of faith. Mutual relationships and trust in God are at the heart of our life together. We seek to build a world that recognizes the unique value of every person and our need of one another.

Our Mission Is To:
Make known the gifts of people with developmental disabilities, revealed through mutually transforming relationships; Foster an environment in community that responds to the changing needs of our members, while being faithful to the core values of our founding story; And engage in our diverse cultures, working together toward a more human society.

Ruling year info


Executive Director | Community Leader

Rev. Mic Altena

Main address

7313 Madison Street

Forest Park, IL 60130 USA

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NTEE code info

Developmentally Disabled Services/Centers (P82)

Disabled Persons' Rights (R23)

Religion Related, Spiritual Development N.E.C. (X99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

L'Arche Chicago is working to create a world that welcomes difference and celebrates the gifts of all people, especially those with intellectual disabilities. L'Arche Chicago seeks to address three main problems: 1. People with intellectual disabilities are often marginalized because they appear different and fall outside of what is considered normative in our societal systems; 2. The state of Illinois is ranked 47th in the country in disability services. 80% of Illinois group homes have 6 or more people with intellectual disabilities living in them, often leading to non-personalized, subpar care. In Illinois there is a group home staffing crisis, leading to high turnover and uncoordinated care; 3. People with intellectual disabilities are not valued for their contributions to local, faith and vocational communities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Community Integrated Living Arrangement

This program supports adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in a family home-like setting and working and participating actively in the larger geographic community.

Population(s) Served
People with intellectual disabilities

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of clients served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

L'Arche Chicago seeks to create a world that welcomes difference & celebrates the unique gifts of all people, especially those with intellectual disabilities.

Our main service goal is to regularly respond to the evolving physical and emotional needs of our core members. We annually survey our core members and their assistants about the challenges they confront and seek ideas for how we can best respond to those challenges through program improvements like increased attention to health care support, especially for our aging core members confronting new challenges atop their already existing limitations due to their disabilities. Another one of our service goals is to support the overall health and well-being for our core members by providing the peace of mind in knowing each core member has an accommodating, comfortable home environment for life keeping them living in the community they love. Not having to worry about day-to-day acts like taking the right medication, making wise health decisions while minding their changing physical needs, eating healthy meals, getting to doctor appointments and communicating with their doctors, and help planning activities they enjoy all contributes to their health and well-being.

What makes L’Arche Chicago unique is its focus on holistic well-being which encourages us to be proactive in promoting healthy living for the core members and assistants in our homes. The low ratio of assistants to the core members in our homes, as well as the ready access to vehicles, allows core members to pursue their interests and relationships in the broader community. Core members are supported to make their own choices about how to spend their time and are welcomed as valued community members.

L'Arche Chicago creates homes where people of different ages, cultures, faiths, and abilities live together and learn from one another. Our group homes, in the midst of residential neighborhoods, merge high quality care and genuine friendships. We maintain these homes with an average of three adults with intellectual disabilities living in them, with well-trained, well-paid direct support professionals living there as well. We work to prioritize relationship and coordinate care in such a way that each person's uniqueness is celebrated and cared for. We build a community of faith where the sacred value of each person is honored and support people with and without intellectual disabilities on their own unique faith journeys, and celebrate the strength this diversity brings to L'Arche.

At L’Arche Chicago, we define success as “presence with others,” which relates specifically to the importance of social inclusion. The social interactions that our core members and assistants experience both within and outside of their home community reveal our impact.

L’Arche Chicago both values and prioritizes the healthcare and supportive assistance needs of our core members (individuals with disabilities). L’Arche Chicago specifically serves its core members for their lifetime by providing ongoing relational support with their live-in staff assistants, accommodating and accessible home environments in a locally accessible community, and the peace of mind that their future is stable while all their needs will be met. The lifetime, comprehensive support is a unique service model that sets us apart from other Illinois IDD residential and day program organizations. L’Arche Chicago responds to our members’ changing needs in a way that ensures the choice and dignity of its members, while maintaining a fulfilled life defined by each core member and their families.

The way we live in L’Arche Chicago allows us to provide exceptionally high-quality care for our core
members. This care is relational as our living arrangement might be the first opportunity for a core
member to develop authentic friendship. The small familial nature of the L’Arche Chicago homes
allows us to address many social, physical, and medical challenges faced by our core members
despite the common barriers adults with IDD typically face when it comes to care access (e.g., a
physician’s lack of training in the IDD population; a disabled adult’s inability to communicate or
adequately understand and advocate for their health care rights).

Live-in staff assistants closely monitor the core members’ health from a place of genuine care and quickly identify possible illnesses. Seventy percent of L’Arche Chicago’s current assistants have been with our community for over a year and have developed deep relationships with core members and their families. When assistants accompany core members to medical appointments, they are able to provide accurate, detailed information, help core members to advocate for themselves about their medical concerns, and provide the needed follow-up care to ensure continued good health.

In collaboration with a team of health professionals, the licensed nurse trainer ensures the improvement of health outcomes for each core member by monitoring medications, medical appointments, personal care, exercise and nutrition, especially as their physical and emotional needs evolve as they advance in age. Some of the specific outcomes we monitor include medical errors per core member, per month, number of health-related appointments outside the regular check-ups, and number of falls per core member, with personalized goals for each member.

L’Arche Chicago opened as the 14th community in the United States in June 2000 when a generous donor offered their home rent-free to our emerging community. The house, named Angel House, was established on a 16-year foundation of community building beginning in 1984 in the Evanston, Illinois area.

During the first three years, we welcomed four core members, two of whom had no other family members and had been living in institutions. In September 2009, we opened a second apartment in a three-flat building and welcomed another core member. Within three years, we had rented the entire building and had welcomed three more core members for a total of eight individuals. In 2014, we purchased an additional home in suburban Forest Park (relocating community members living in our rented apartment) that embodied our vision of creating homes where family-like relationships can blossom. Just one year later, in 2015, we opened our third home in Forest Park and welcomed two additional core members to become lifelong members of our community.

Today, 11 core members live together with assistants (staff who support core members with activities of daily living and other functions) in three homes.

L’Arche Chicago offers opportunities for assistants and core members to learn, grow, and deepen in relationship, redefining success as an attitude of inclusion and a pace determined by relational quality. With a 1:2 staff to individual ratio, L’Arche Chicago homes inspire change in a spirit of friendship. At L’Arche Chicago, daily routines of people with IDD include cooking, household responsibilities, working, volunteering, and pursuing leisure activities in the local neighborhood. Individuals with IDD living in the homes have coordinated personal healthcare, personalized employment options, and social networks of their own volition. Everyday meals are shared celebrations, opportunities for relationships that resemble family. L’Arche Chicago makes all this possible for the lifetime of each core member.

Given both the high demand for community integrated living spaces as well as the critical need to adapt our home environments, now is the time for L’Arche Chicago to acquire its fourth home. Our plan is to use 2020 to search for the right home in the same community in which two of our homes already exist so as to preserve the friendships and community engagement of our core members. Simultaneously, we plan to launch a new capital campaign to help fund this fourth home. Once the home is purchased, we will commence remodeling in order to make the home fully ADA-compliant, including higher countertops, wide halls and doorways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, lift ramps up and down stairs, ramps in and out of the home, and accessible storage at all height levels.


L'Arche Chicago

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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L'Arche Chicago

Board of directors
as of 01/27/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Kimberly Bryze

Midwestern University

Term: 2020 -

Caitlin Powers

John Biggs

Monika Robinson

Midwestern University

Dr. Spencer Harpe

Midwestern University

Sarah Pelrine

Archdiocese of Chicago

Darius Bikulcius


Heather Rabchuk


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/7/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation