What is a Microboard?

A microboard is a small group of committed family and friends who join together with an individual with a disability to create a non-profit organization. Some people think that a microboard is just a single person agency. The Microboard concept and the first actual Microboard were created in 1986 in Manitoba, Canada by our colleagues David and Faye Wetherow. Several years later the idea was taken up by the Vela Microboard Association in British Columbia, who trademarked the term as a way of ensuring that people who used the term would be operating with the philosophy and principles that are integral to the concept. We believe that microboards are far more than a “single person agency”.

Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon working at Taco Bell with his job coach

We believe microboards have a specific philosophy and purpose that relates to self-determination and the provision of high quality of services and supports. Individuals with disabilities and their families typically form microboards for three main reasons:

• They want to establish a circle of support that will be available for as long as the individual needs and desires one

• They control over who provides services and supports and how they are managed

• They want to create a way for the individual to manage additional resources that may become available to them.

The Tennessee Association of Microboards and Cooperatives currently provides technical assistance with the creation of three types of microboards. Microboards can serve as natural circles of support for individuals with disabilities at any age. Microboards that serve as natural circles of support help identify opportunities for community inclusion and membership, generate resources outside of government programs, and establish a formal commitment between the individual and the microboard’s volunteers.

Microboards that serve as paid providers of services and supports under the Waiver

When the individual who is forming a microboard receives services and supports through a government program like a Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver, the microboard may choose to become the provider of those services and supports. In this case, the microboard needs to know how to apply for provider status, how to comply with the program’s rules and regulations, and how to account for the financial resources the microboard receives.