Youth Empowerment Resources
Be an advocate! Speak up for your rights and be a part of change in your community. Joining a self-advocacy group will help you understand your rights, to develop and/or strengthen your leadership and communication skills, and receive peer support.
- The Family Help Center has a Youth Empowerment & leadership program (13-22) for individuals who want to be leaders in their community.
- The Center for Self-Advocacy is a place for people with disabilities to help them stand up for one another to make positive changes in their community and teach others on how to include people with disabilities in their communities.
- Community Services for the Developmental Disabled has an advocacy group, L.E.A.D.E.R.S. that helps individuals be part of activities to improve their leadership skills.
- I-Voice is an advocacy group where individuals come together to plan activities and attend meetings to improve leadership skills.
- Autism Services has an advocacy group that focuses on a person’s abilities and having power to make their own decisions. Group members can also talk about their concerns, meet new friends, and plan social activities together.
- Working Together for a Brighter Tomorrow is an advocacy program run by people with disabilities who want to help change lives for other individuals with disabilities.
- Spreading Wellness Around Town (SWAT) Youth Council is is a group of youth who have had personal experience in one or more of the child-serving systems – Mental Health, Juvenile Justice, Child Welfare, Public Schools.
State (membership self-advocacy organizations)
- Youth Power helps individuals come together from New York State to talk about their challenges, improve their leadership skills, have power to make their own decisions, and meet new friends.
- The Self-Advocacy Association of New York State helps bring other advocacy groups together to attend educational meetings to improve their leadership skills.
- Youth in Progress helps individuals in foster care and/or disabilities to share their personal struggles and support one another to make positive changes in their communities.
National (organizations helping other advocacy groups to improve their leadership skills)
- Kids As Self Advocates is a national group that helps teens and young adults stand up for their beliefs, have power to make their own choices, and give support to other advocacy groups to improve their leadership skills.
- The National Consortium on Leadership and Disability for Youth offers individuals information on work, education, leadership, housing, and social activities.
- The National Association of the Deaf offers many programs for individuals who are deaf or have hearing problems to be leaders for others, have the power to make their own choices, and be part of a community.
- Youth Move National is a national group for individuals who want to better their leadership skills, learn their rights, and want to be part of making change in their communities.
Your future starts with education. It allows you to explore a career of your choice.
Local (disability support for youth to reach their goals in college)
- The Learning Center offers tutoring in all subjects. Students learn how to take good notes, understand textbook information, and study of for exams.
- The Community Academic Center helps individuals be part of the Buffalo Community.
- Young Adult Life Transitions Program for is for youth (18-23) are given the chance to experience college. It helps individuals be part of their community, learn to work, and meet new friends.
State (going to college and understanding college responsibilities)
- AffordableColleges.com – Scholarships and Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities
- BestColleges.com – Scholarships for Students with Disabilities – There are many financing options and benefits available to disabled students. This is our guide to the opportunities out there.
- Youth in Care Corner is for individuals who are in foster care. Individuals get help to understand college responsibilities and help with submitting college applications.
- The Office of Children and Family Services offers the Professional Development Program is for youth in foster care, juvenile delinquents, and the homeless. Youth Ambassadors are assigned to help individuals go to college and gives support to reach their goals.
- Careerzone helps individuals explore careers related to their interests and skills.
- Think College offers information on different college supports for people with intellectual disabilities.
National (to help understand types of disability supports)
- GoGrad is a website for individuals interested in graduate school. It website offers information on online degree programs and scholarships for people with disabilities.
- The American Foundation for the Blind offers information on disability supports and going to college (selecting a school & filling out applications).
- The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers The Student To Empowerment Professional Program. The online program offers mentoring for individuals who need help choosing a college to go to and understanding different types of career choices.
- The National Technical Institute for the Deaf is part of The Rochester Institute of Technology offers individuals who are deaf different types of career programs.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness is written to provide you with important information about mental health during the college years.
Make your own choices about the job you want.
Local (programs for youth to have the skills to get a job or a career)
- The Work Appreciation for Youth Program is for individuals (14-21) with trauma histories, behavioral issues, mental health diagnoses and developmental disabilities. It helps youth understand their individual strengths, offers tutoring, career counseling, and job training.
- Living Independently and Fostering Employment Program is for youth (18-25) with developmental disabilities. It helps individuals learn living skills, and be a part of their community.
- The St. Mary’s School for the Deaf offers The Transition to Independence Program. The program helps students to learn skills for a job and to live on their own.
- The St. Mary’s School for the Deaf offers The Career Readiness through Education and Work Experience Program. The program offers hands-on work and community service activities.
State (types of job supports)
- Pathway to Employment Program is for youth with developmental disabilities. It helps Individuals learn job skills to get a job.
- Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES_VR) helps to individuals with career and financial support for a job and/or college expenses. The Youth Employment Services help individuals learn job skills and get work experience.
- The Career Development and Occupational Studies allows individuals who cannot get a high school diploma have an option to learn needed skills for a specific job (hairdresser, machinery, or working on cars).
- New York State Department of Labor – 14-17 – The Youth Portal links youth ages 14 to 24 to resources that help them explore for the future and prepare for careers.
National (programs to help youth learn skills to work)
- The High School/High Tech is a national network of programs that helps youth with disabilities explore jobs or education based on technology-related careers.
- The National Youth Transitions Center helps youth with disabilities enter into adulthood and the workplace. The center offers career counseling, trainings, and internships.
- The United States Department of Labor has information on tips to get a job and learn skills to do well in the workplace.
- The Job Accommodation Network offers information on workplace accommodations related to the person’s disability.
Social groups and activities allows you to meet new friends and have support from others.
Local (types of social activities)
- The COMPEER Adult Program offers friendship for individuals (18 & older) with mental illness and/or disabilities. Individuals are paired with volunteers based on their hobbies and personality traits.
- Excalibur offers free boating and fishing activities for people with disabilities. Local Location: 90 North Dr., Buffalo, NY 14216.
- Special Olympics New York offers sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.
- Danceability is a dance program for individuals with disabilities. Individuals can learn all different types of dance (Tap, Jazz, Ballet…).
- People and Places offers individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities to go on violence.
- Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey is for youth and adults with physical disabilities who enjoy hockey and competition.
State (social program for children & youth)
- Together Including Every Student offers children and youth (8-21) with developmental disabilities many social activities (cooking, dancing, martial arts, music, or gymnastics.).
National (social programs for youth)
- Best Buddies is an international program for individuals of all different types of disabilities. It helps individuals meet new friends with other individuals without disabilities. There is a program at Buffalo State College.
- National Institute of Art & Disabilities is an art program for individuals with disabilities. Artists do activities such as painting, sculptures, and clay. It is located in Richmond, California.
Getting around to go to places in your community or learning how to drive.
Local (options for getting around)
- Paratransit is a program for all individuals with disabilities, who cannot use the metro bus system.
- Medicaid transportation is a program to help individuals get to their doctor’s appointments.
- The Erie County Medical Center offers a driver evaluation and a driving program. The program determines if an individual has the ability to drive.
State (driving training program)
- Rochester Rehabilitation offers a driving training program, Drive-ON for individuals with physical and intellectual disabilities. Instructors train individuals on how to drive.
Resources for living in an apartment or buying a home.
Local (information on housing options)
- Belmont Housing offers affordable and accessible apartments for individuals with disabilities. Individuals are placed on a long-term waiting list. Also helps individuals buy their own homes.
- Housing Opportunities Made Equal is an organization that offers people to live in housing of their choice. Helps individuals find housing based on their needs.
- The Olmsted Center has 6 apartment buildings for individuals with visual impairments and/or physical disabilities. All apartments are wheelchair accessible.
- The Learning Disabilities Association offers 24-hour staff supervision in community housing.
State (information on buying your own home or finding accessible apartments)
- The NY Housing Search offers a list to find affordable accessible homes and apartments.
- The Home Access Program gives individuals money to make their homes accessible.
- The Home of Your Own program helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with buying a home, help with budgeting money, and finding apartments.
- The Remodel New York Program offers money assistance to first time homebuyers to buy and to fix their homes that need repairs. The Achieving the Dream Program: offers first time homebuyers help with their down payment on a home.
- Housing Counseling Training sessions offers information on buying a home.
National (housing supports)
- The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Committee is working with Congress and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer safe and affordable housing for people with disabilities.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers different housing programs (for homebuyers, education on housing, & housing rights). Information can also be found by state.
- National Center for Learning Disabilities helps youth with learning and attention difficulties to teach schools to offer the social, and emotional skills needed to achieve in school, work, and life. It also offers youth a web program with information and support for individuals with learning difficulties.
- Disabled Discounts offers information on discounts to people with disabilities, such as entertainment & parks).
- Best Colleges offers information on types of disability services, dorm life, colleges to attend, and available scholarships for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- The Job Accommodation Network offers information on workplace accommodations related to the person’s disability.
- PACER’s Health & Transition – A young person’s health is critical to his or her overall well-being. Good health provides a solid foundation for success at home, work, school, and in the community.