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Autism Speaks Announces Fifth Round Recipients of Family Services Community Grants

NEW YORK, N.Y. (January 6, 2011) – Autism Speaks, North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced that its board of directors has approved more than $500,000 in funding for 24 Family Services Community Grants, bringing the total to $2.4 million in such grants to date. These grants will help community-based organizations across the country expand existing programs to serve more individuals with autism, and create new programs that demonstrate true innovation in providing services to improve and enrich the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In November 2010 the Board of Autism Speaks Canada announced its first round of Canadian Community Grants. Over $500,000 was awarded to 26 agencies from across Canada. More details on those funded projects can be found at www.autismspeaks.ca.

In February 2010, Autism Speaks invited autism service providers to submit grant applications that addressed one of the following areas of need: Education, Recreation/Community Activities, and Young Adult/Adult Services. Autism Speaks received a record 659 applications from organizations in 44 states. For a list of the 24 grant recipients, click here.

“We continue to be impressed by the quality of the grant applications we are receiving from outstanding, innovative service providers across the country,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “Autism Speaks is delighted to be able to support these programs, which are not only providing important services to people with autism in their local communities, but also serving as models that we hope and expect will be replicated elsewhere.”

The funding for the 24 grants falls into the following categories: Education – ten grants totaling $183,085; Young Adult/Adult Services – nine grants totaling $209,050; and Recreation/Community Activities – five grants totaling $111,250.

In the Education proposals, there continues to be a great deal of collaboration between trainers, educators, and families to address the needs of learners with ASD. Providing motivational opportunities, empowerment and advocacy, and increasing institutional capacity were consistent themes across the spectrum of proposals funded. During this round, Autism Speaks also focused on proposals that provide a comprehensive, hands-on approach to teaching, training and parental empowerment. Most importantly, special consideration was given to proposals that will produce deliverables such as training manuals and/or videos that can be shared with the community at large and further expand services and supports for individuals with autism.

Young Adult/Adult Services continues to be an area of heightened importance for families as an increasing number of children with ASD are entering adolescence and adulthood. The number of proposals that fall into this category and in turn are funded continues to grow as a percent of the total number of applications. For this round, Autism Speaks is funding a number of exciting proposals that will provide customized services, toolkits, and guided trainings. These programs focus on a wide range of issues affecting young adults and adults with ASD, such as sexuality, college life, driving, employment and general health and wellness.

The Recreation/Community Activities proposals provide ASD individuals with a variety of opportunities to develop recreational interests in supportive and inclusive environments. All proposals involve physical activity across the spectrum. For the first time this year, two funded proposals focus on therapeutic horseback riding, both as athletic therapy as well as an activity that will develop life, social and job skills. Programs are also being funded that focus on running, team sports, and friendship building.

As with previous community grant reviews, a two-tier review process, including both professional and parent reviewers, was used to assess each grant application. Visit our website to learn more about the key elements of the review process.

“The grant review process provides us with valuable insight into the important work that service providers are doing throughout the autism community, it also provides us with opportunities to collaborate with other agencies to expand the services to help individuals affected by ASD and their families,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks national director of family services. “It was encouraging to see many proposals that offer opportunities for inclusion and for enhancing the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum.”

All appropriate applicants will be listed in Autism Speaks' Family Services Resource Guide as the organization continues to connect families and service providers with resources in their communities. Included in the agreement with each of the Family Services Community Grants recipients is a provision that all projects must be manualized so that this information can be housed on the Autism Speaks website and accessed by those who may be interested in replication.

A request for applications for the next round of Family Services Community Grants will be announced in the coming weeks.

About Autism
Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 110 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The prevalence of autism increased 57 percent from 2002 to 2006. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is North America's largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $142.5 million to research through 2014 and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks has created resources and programs including the Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network, Autism Speaks' Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2, which Autism Speaks celebrates through its Light it Up Blue initiative. Also, Autism Speaks award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council has received over $249 million in donated media. Autism Speaks' family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government's response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments in 23 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 14 states. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.
 

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners, Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, such as the CHILD Magazine Children's Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women's Division and The Women of Vision Award from the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 Heroes and Pioneers category, a list of the most influential people in the world, for their commitment to global autism advocacy. They have also received numerous awards such as the first ever 'Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership, NYU Child Advocacy Award, Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and The American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award. In May of 2010 they received Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degrees from St. John's University in Queens and delivered the commencement address as the first married couple to be bestowed such an honor.