About Page

Nancy Trask is a long-time ICA colleague and former Board member. [Insert personal message from Nancy about why it is important to donate to ICA]

Institute of Cultural Affairs

ICA builds a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth through empowering the cultural dimensions of the social process. Its programs focus on systemic change and social transformation through the development of sustainable individuals, organizations, and communities.

ICA began in the 1960s during a time defined in the US by civil rights -- and white flight to the suburbs -- when it demonstrated racial diversity in a high profile community renewal project on the West Side of Chicago. In 1976, it conducted over 5,000 town meetings, with at least one being held in every county of the country, which enabled diverse populations to reach consensus on priority community projects. In the early 1980s, it pioneered a radical new approach to bottom-up village development in third world nations that is now at the core of mainstream best practices. All of ICA’s programs are based on indicative processes of experiential learning and facilitation that enable people to affirm the significance of their situation and to build responsible plans of action.

Today, a large national network of social entrepreneurs are involved in ICA programs. More than a hundred licensed trainers deliver ICA curriculum known as Technologies of Participation (ToP) ®. Over 30,000 people have participated in these courses since 1992; the total number of graduates in 2011 was over two thousand. ICA, with its sister organization, the Ecumenical Institute, also owns an 8-story building at 4750 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago. This was a gift from the Kemper Insurance Company in 1972. With an emphasis on homeless, low-income, and immigrant communities, this is the largest non-profit service center in the Midwest and second largest in the entire country.

All ICA programming in the United States is coordinated from the office in Chicago. It is an affiliate member of ICA-International along with other independent national ICA organizations in 30+ countries. In this global setting, it is known as ICA-USA.