YAI was launched in February of 1957 out of a small school in Brooklyn, New York. Initially staffed by Co-Founders Bert MacLeech and Pearl Maze MacLeech alone, their pilot program served just seven people. According to Bert, from its very beginning YAI has been dedicated to providing innovative services for the I/DD (intellectual and/or developmental disabilities) community. MacLeech envisioned a “total life adjustment approach, emphasizing personal growth, social responsibility, employment goals, and the development of independence for the individual.” At a time when institutional living was the norm for people with I/DD, this vision was nothing short of revolutionary.
Today, YAI has a team of over 4,000 employees and supports over 20,000 people in the I/DD community. This extraordinary growth shows the ongoing need for these important services, and YAI’s success in offering them. YAI supports people with autism, Down syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy, among others. Operating throughout Downstate New York and Northern New Jersey, YAI now offers more than 300 programs for people of all ages.
At YAI, we are driven by our mission of living, loving, working, and learning. This applies not only to the people we support, but to our staff as well. Commitment and passion for the work continue to unite employees and drive the organization forward. Empowering the people we support to reach their goals remains at the heart of our organization.
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Learn more about YAI's mission to support people with I/DD with this short video: