Our History

One of New York State’s eight original Independent Living Centers, ARISE was founded in 1979 by people dedicated to the idea – which was revolutionary at the time – that people with disabilities should have equal rights.

Our first office was modest. In fact, the agency was housed in an old laundry room of Syracuse’s Saint Mary’s Hospital. Despite having only three staff, ARISE was at the forefront of the independent living movement and led early efforts to increase public accessibility in the Syracuse area.

ARISE quickly grew to meet the demand for services, opening satellite offices in Onondaga, Oswego, and Madison Counties to more fully support people with disabilities living in Central New York. Some key highlights of ARISE’s historic growth include:

  • 1996 … ARISE opened its first satellite office in Oswego – an office that has grown from 4 to more than 25 full-time staff members.
  • 1996 … ARISE partnered with Toggenburg Ski Center to launch ARISE & Ski. Today, more than 80 people participate each ski season.
  • 1998 … ARISE received a horse farm located in Madison County as a gift from Dr. James Marshall. ARISE at the Farm offers a wide range of accessible, inclusive recreational opportunities including an accessible playground, open to the public, added in 2015.
  • 1999 … ARISE merged with Child and Family Service of Onondaga County – an agency that has provided social services to the community for over 100 years.
  • 2002 … ARISE opened a part-time Oswego County extension office in the village of Pulaski.
  • 2003 … ARISE established a formal presence in Madison County with the opening of an office in the Oneida One-Stop Career Center.
  • 2003 … ARISE partnered to launch an innovative initiative that offers mental health services in three Syracuse schools to children in need and their families. This service has expanded to eight schools throughout Onondaga and Oswego counties.
  • 2004 … ARISE’s part-time Pulaski extension office outgrew its home and moved to a larger location – and increased office hours – to better respond to the area’s needs.
  • 2004 … ARISE was selected to operate a Statewide Systems Advocacy Network Center (Syracuse) and Support Site (Oswego).
  • 2005 … ARISE was selected to become the Regional Resource Development Center for Persons with Traumatic Brain Injury for the eight-county Central New York region.
  • 2010 … ARISE expanded mental health services into Oswego County.
  • 2011 … ARISE is designated as the Center for Independent Living in Madison County.
  • 2014 … ARISE merged with Options for Independence in Auburn, NY providing services in Cayuga and Seneca counties.
  • 2015 … ARISE is certified as a National Health Services Corps Site, affording federal student load repayment relief opportunities to our licensed professional staff members.
  • 2015 … ARISE began providing outpatient mental health services to children and adolescents in the Upstate Pediatric Clinic.
  • 2017 … ARISE is accredited by the Council on Quality and Leadership, recognizing our person-centered, holistic approach to working with people on their individualized goals.

ARISE now employs over 800 staff members who advocate for the interests of people with disabilities, and who work to deliver 50+ different programs and services. We are proud to be an active part of local, regional, state, and national efforts to promote the independent living philosophy.