“We evaluate and respond to needs in the community and work to end the stigma associated with disabilities.”
– Jill Hrinda-Patten, Executive Director
Mission Empower, founded as Educational Advocacy for the Inclusion of Youth (EAIY), was formed to address the dire need to integrate youth with disabilities into their communities and society. Prior to the inception of Mission Empower, there were no other groups or agencies exclusively empowering, educating, or advocating for families and youth with disabilities in Erie County. Advocates and parents of children with disabilities rallied around this common vision to create this organization. In December of 2007, EAIY was incorporated as a non-profit in Pennsylvania and received 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in June of 2008. In August of 2009, EAIY changed its name to Mission Empower, and in October 2012, Mission Empower was designated as a Community Parent Resource Center by the US Department of Education. The organization is one of 104 Community Parent Resource Centers across the US.
Mission Empower strives to integrate the current generation of all youth with disabilities to be fully included, productive, and participatory citizens of their community through education, advocacy, and empowerment. Mission Empower has developed a multi-pronged approach for promoting inclusion: educational advocacy, parent engagement, and community education programs.
About Our Executive Director
Jill Hrinda-Patten, Executive Director and founder of Mission Empower, is a successful individual with significant disabilities. In 1991, Jill received her BA degree in psychology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Jill has over ten years of experience in the Independent Living Movement and in educational advocacy. Her passion is to integrate future generations of youth with disabilities into all aspects of society.
Jill is a former member of the Gaskin Settlement Advisory Panel for Least Restrictive Environment. This panel advised the Pennsylvania Department of Education to include students with disabilities in the public school system.