A brief history of the first Center for Independent Living (CIL)
In 1970 Ed Roberts along with other students founded a program on the campus of the University of California at Berkley to assist students with disabilities in adapting to campus life and beyond. Along with his friend and activist, Judy Heumann, they began what is now known as a “Center for Independent Living” in a one-bedroom apartment. Their goal was to focus on individual rights, peer support, advocating for change, and independent living skills training. Today there are 340 CILs in the United States with 18 in Pennsylvania, all working to empower people with disabilities to be decision makers.
A brief history of the Center for Independent Living of South Central Pennsylvania (CILSCPA)
The Center for Independent Living of South Central Pennsylvania (CILSCPA) opened its office in Altoona in May 1988 operating under the auspices of the Center located in Pittsburgh. The office began operations with two staff people – an Executive Director and a Secretary. Within a year and a half, the staff grew to four members.
In October of 1989, the CILSCPA “spun off” and became a free-standing Center no longer operating under the CIL in Pittsburgh. A new program was developed and implemented – the Deaf Action Awareness Program. To date, the Center employs two full-time Altoona-based employees. They provide independent living services as well as services through the Deaf Action Awareness Program. The CILSCPA also employs five part-time employees. These employees provide peer counseling services relating to the Center for Assistive and Rehabilitative Technology, CART.
What We’re About
The purpose of the Center for Independent Living is to provide supportive services to persons with disabilities who wish to increase or maintain their level of independence in the community and at home. It is important that consumers understand that CIL services are not intended to create a situation in which persons with disabilities become dependent. It is our purpose to encourage, motivate, train, and guide consumers to achieve the highest level of independence possible. Consumers, as well as staff, have responsibilities in this effort to increase independence and self-direction.
The CILSCPA is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-residential, community-based organization. In accordance with the Rehabilitation Act, at least 51% of CIL board members and staff have disabilities. The CIL offers services and programs to People with Disabilities in the following counties:
• This CIL is federally funded. Some CILs are state funded.
• Our grants have come from the Department of Education.
• This CIL is one of 18 CILs in Pennsylvania.
• This CIL is based in Blair County.
• 2010 Census indicates there are over 20,000 People with Disabilities in Blair County and there are 85,000 PwD in the seven counties for which we are responsible.
• CIL coverage in all counties in all states is mandated by the Federal Government.
• November 2012, George Palmer joined the CIL staff as an Independent Living Specialist.
• January 2014, George Palmer became Executive Director of the CIL.
• December 2014, Joseph Fagnani became President of the CIL’s Board of Directors.
• By April of 2015, the CIL Board of Directors has grown from 5 members in 2014 to 13 members with 3 Board Committees. Our current focus is to become the model CIL for Pennsylvania.
• August 2015, we moved from a small, non-descript location on Logan Boulevard, to the Butterick building on Beale Avenue.
• We’re currently focused on developing the model in Blair County to be replicated in other counties by:
1. Developing a program that touches the entire person.
2. Hiring more staff to touch and impact more lives.
3. Becoming an independent organization with an entrepreneurial mindset and approach.