The Advocacy Center and LDA Life and Learning Services were founded by people who wanted better opportunities for their loved ones with disabilities. Now together as Starbridge, we provide a unique and valuable combination of services and advocacy for people with disabilities and their circles of support.

The Advocacy Center

In 1954, family members and professionals organized the Monroe County Coordinating Group to create opportunities and make recommendations about disability services available in the Rochester community. Much of the Coordinating Group’s early work focused on alternatives to institutionalization. The organization incorporated in the 1970s and hired its first professional staff. Over the next 20 years, the Coordinating Group grew and evolved to provide citizen advocacy, community education, and information and referral services in Monroe County. By the 1990s, the organization had grown in geographic reach, staff size, and programming: independent service coordination, the parent-focused newsletter The Bridge, the Lay Advocacy parent training program, the federally-funded Parent Training and Information Center, and a change of name to The Advocacy Center.

LDA Life and Learning Services

In 1963, a group of Rochester-area parents came together with a common desire: to obtain more support for their children from their school districts. Since this time, LDA has grown from a small, all-volunteer organization to an agency of more than 190 employees. LDA’s original focus on legislative issues and education services expanded to include the provision of a full spectrum of services for children and adults with learning disabilities, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and developmental disabilities. In 1986, LDA incorporated, and over the years additional services were added, including Community Living, Employment, Service Coordination, Fiscal Intermediary Services, Self-Advocacy, Education, and Diagnostic Evaluations.

Becoming Starbridge

In 2013, the Boards of Directors of The Advocacy Center and LDA Life and Learning Services decided to explore a strategic alliance to sustain their missions, expand services, and thrive in a changing services environment. The chief criteria for a desirable partnership were: compatibility of agency missions, complementary services and programs, shared financial strength, a proactive approach towards potential shifts in the disabilities service system, and an unyielding commitment to persons with disabilities and their circles of support.

A taskforce of board members and executives from both agencies worked for the next 12 months to conduct a thorough due-diligence process and begin planning for the merger. The agencies announced their formal affiliation in January 2014. Directors and staff from both agencies spearheaded the development of a new brand, identity, and logo, and began the work of building the culture of the new agency.

Starbridge is uniquely positioned to facilitate education, community living, employment, and community inclusion for people with disabilities. We work side by side with you, partners in identifying opportunities and seeing possibilities for success. Starbridge: For the Hope and the How.

"A society based on the value that every human life is equally sacred and equally worthy of optimal, personalized empowerment to achieve his or her best possible quality of life. An America for all. A world for all.” – Justin Dart, “Father of the ADA”