Empowering Virginians with Disabilities through Centers for Independent Living

February 2023 | Issue 15

This issue celebrates the impact CILs across Virginia have made in the lives of consumers and their communities over the past year. Learn about:

  • CILs' 2022 impact such as services provided, goals achieved and hours spent building community capacity in the below infographic.
  • The ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia's new and expanding program helping young people with disabilities develop critical self-advocacy skills. A great example of how CILs are making an impact in their lives.
  • The history of Endependence Center, Inc., Norfolk, Virginia's very first CIL. 

ECNV’s Self-Advocacy Program

The Endependence Center of Northern Virginia is working closely with Alexandria City Public Schools and the DARS Alexandria office to bring a pilot session of the I Am Self-Advocacy Program to Alexandria City High School.

This Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) program is focused on helping students with disabilities, ages 16-22, hone their skills in self-advocacy through a combination of weekly individual and group sessions.


By the end of the program, the students will have put together their own self-advocacy portfolio to include things they learned about self-awareness, disability awareness, self-determination, disability rights and responsibilities, how to be assertive, and how to engage allies and be an ally to others.

ECNV Peer Mentor, Paul Whitley, will lead this pilot IASA program in the school setting. “I’m thrilled about the opportunity to take IASA to the classroom environment. It’ll open doors in terms of what our program can look like as we continue to pursue a participant-driven self-advocacy program,” Whitley said. 


Did you know?

The Endependence Center, Inc. in Norfolk was the first nonprofit CIL to open in Virginia in February 1981 with John Chappell as its first executive director. In its past 40+ years of operation, ECI has made a huge impact in the Tidewater area.

Nichole Davis joined ECI in 2018, coming from Georgia where she managed a CIL for 10 years. ECI is a partner in community advocacy, Davis says. Advocacy groups come to them with issues, and they get input from the board and staff. Consumers are also expected to play a role in the outcomes they receive.


Some of ECI’s initiatives include:

  • Providing certified benefits counseling and Ticket to Work services through the Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Offering assistive technology equipment demonstration through a contract with VDDHH
  • Administering the Medicaid Waiver Information Center through a grant with Virginia Board for People with Disabilities
  • Holding a four-week summer youth program teaching IL and self-advocacy
Facebook  Twitter  Linkedin  Youtube  Instagram