Skip navigation

Calls to Action

Autism Speaks Announces Recipients of Swimming Scholarships and Baker Summer Camp Grants

More than $237,000 total awarded to 153 local service providers

NEW YORK, NY (MAY 6, 2014) – Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced the recipients of its inaugural Swimming and Water Safety Scholarship Fund, as well as its fifth annual Baker Summer Camp Program.

The Autism Speaks Swimming and Water Safety Scholarship Fund was launched in response to the growing number of drowning incidents in the autism community. Drowning is currently the leading cause of death after a person with autism wanders from safety, a tendency that was recently found to occur in nearly half of individuals with autism.

Teaching those with autism to swim while emphasizing the importance of water safety can play a critical role in preventing such tragic incidents from occurring. This new grant program selects eligible organizations and programs to identify qualified financially disadvantaged individuals with autism and offer scholarship funds for swimming and water safety lessons.

More than $37,000 was awarded to 15 local organizations that provide qualified swimming and water safety lessons specifically for individuals with autism. Each organization received up to $2,500 in funding. This year’s winners include The Swim School of San Diego, as well as YMCA locations in Detroit and Ambler, Pa., among others. For a complete list of winners, visit www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/grants/swimming/recipients.

“Autism Speaks is committed to doing all we can to help ensure the safety of individuals in the autism community,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “We are excited to provide this scholarship funding to allow families the opportunity for their child or adult to learn to swim and understand the importance of water safety. We are pleased to be able to provide this critical funding to organizations on a quarterly basis.”

Funding for the Swimming and Water Safety Scholarship Fund is given out on a quarterly basis. To be considered for the next three quarters, organizations should submit applications by May 21, August 13 and November 12. Online applications are accepted here: www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/grants/swimming.    

Now in its fifth year, the Baker Summer Camp Program selects eligible camps across the country to identify qualified campers and offer scholarships of up to $5,000 to be distributed to as many campers as may benefit. Originally funded by Norma and Malcolm Baker and specific to Southern California, the program was expanded to the national level by Autism Speaks. To date, the program has awarded a total of $699,000 to 177 different camps across 39 states, resulting in over 1,400 camper scholarships.

This year, a total of $200,000 was awarded to 138 camps and programs including Adam’s Camp in Winter Park, Colo., Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Mo., Spark Learning Summer Camp in Austin, TX., and The League at Camp Greentop in Thurmont, Md. For a complete list of recipients, visit: www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/grants/baker/2014.

To receive funding, camps must have a successful history of supporting individuals with autism. Preference is given to camps that provide opportunities for inclusion with typically-developing peers and those located in underserved communities.

Applications for next year’s Baker Summer Camp Program will open in January at www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/grants/baker.

About Autism 
Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders – autism spectrum disorders – caused by a combination of genes and environmental influences. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by communication difficulties, social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It 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. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Mr. Wright is the former vice chairman of General Electric and chief executive officer of NBC and NBC Universal. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed more than $200 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 100 cities across North America. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.