For Immediate Release
Lisa Razza, Achieva Director of Communications
Pittsburgh, PA (January 7, 2021) - Southwestern Pennsylvania-based Achieva, a disability advocacy and service organization, and The Autism Connection of Pennsylvania, a statewide advocacy organization for people with autism based in Pittsburgh, are excited to announce a new affiliation between the two non-profit corporations. The new relationship commenced on January 1, 2021.
The decision by the two charities will connect their related missions serving people with disabilities, empowering the nonprofits to better advocate for children and adults with disabilities and their families. “We’re excited about the new relationship, and we anticipate great synergistic energy and opportunities moving forward,” said Achieva President and CEO Steve Suroviec. The Autism Connection of PA's President, Lu Randall, said “Because we already have close working relationships on several issues and programs, this partnership is a natural next step.”
The Autism Connection of PA will join four other affiliated organizations in “The Achieva Family of Organizations,” which currently include: The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, Achieva Support, Achieva Resource, and Achieva Family Trust.
The two non-profits share similar beginnings; both were started by family members who sought the best for their children, whether it was access to an appropriate, inclusive public education, services to live in the community (and not in institutional settings), access to jobs, and freedom to live one’s life free from discrimination based on disability.
Achieva was founded in 1951 by parents to ensure their children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) had the same chances in life that all children should be given. Achieva now exists for all people with any disability, providing lifelong support that includes early intervention therapies, advocacy and family support, and assistance to live a life of personal significance in the home, in the community, and on the job. “An affiliation between Achieva and The Autism Connection of PA will give us an expanded knowledge base with which to support the autism community, and introduce more people with autism to Achieva’s array of existing high-quality services,” continued Suroviec. Achieva currently serves thousands of people with disabilities and their families, employs about 900 people, and has an annual revenue of approximately $50 million.
The Autism Connection of PA, entering its 25th year in 2021, answers 140 help requests each month, reaches 14,000 families and professionals through weekly emails and social media platforms, sponsors dozens of support groups, and has a depth of experience providing professional development disability training and guidance for families, schools, police, EMS, treatment professionals, and victims’ services statewide.
The organizations have worked closely together for many years on programs, projects, and advocacy issues, sharing vital resources related to individual crisis situations, long-term financial and legal planning, health insurance issues, early intervention, and employment initiatives.
The Autism Connection will remain a separate 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, maintaining its Board of Trustees, key employees, mission, and strategic plan. The affiliation places two Trustees from The Autism Connection of PA onto the parent Board of Trustees for Achieva. The Autism Connection of PA will relocate from its Etna office to space in Achieva’s administrative headquarters at 711 Bingham Street in the South Side region of Pittsburgh.
“The affiliation provides ‘back office’ resources for Autism Connection, enabling us to direct our funds toward better support for individual client needs, increased community training, and advocating for key legislative and public policy initiatives,” explained Randall. “Strategically, our goal to be a lifeline for people in need dovetails perfectly with Achieva’s forward-thinking mission. The idea to affiliate was raised late this past spring, given the benefits that could be realized for both organizations.”
The affiliation aligns with Achieva’s strategic goals to increase services to underserved populations, add diversity to their board, and expand their community connections. “Together, we will advance critical public policies for people with disabilities, innovate when it comes to the services we offer, and improve society’s understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities,” Suroviec concluded.
Achieva is a non-profit organization located in southwestern Pennsylvania providing lifelong supports to people with disabilities and their families. Achieva envisions a community where all people with disabilities lead lives of personal significance. Our services range from early intervention therapies and employment supports to special needs trusts and supports in the home and community. Achieva advocates for, empowers, and supports people with disabilities and their families throughout their lives. For more information visit achieva.info.
Autism Connection of Pennsylvania is a lifeline for families and individuals affected by autism providing education, advocacy, and support. Professional staff, all parents who understand, provide telephone support, weekly autism news, autism-friendly activities, and coordinate more than 76 support groups across Pennsylvania. For more information visit autismofpa.org.