Autism Speaks Announces Third Annual Baker Summer Camp Scholarship Program

New York, N.Y. (January 25, 2012) -- Autism Speaks, the world's largest autism science and advocacy organization, today announced its third annual Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Program, which will offer scholarship funds to camps of up to $5,000 for children and young adults with autism to attend a summer camp.

Originally funded by Norma and Malcolm Baker and specific to southern California, the program was expanded to the national level by Autism Speaks. In 2010, the Baker Summer Camp Scholarship Program joined the Autism Speaks community grants initiative as a mainstay of the Family Services grants program. 

The program during the past two summers has funded 630 camp scholarships, totaling more than $300,000 awarded by 99 camps in 30 states.

“Camp is a valuable therapeutic and recreational experience for children and young adults with autism. We are thrilled to be able to provide scholarships so that financially disadvantaged families affected by autism can have the opportunity to participate in an experience all children should enjoy,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president for Family Services. 

Camps providing summer programs for individuals with autism who are financially disadvantaged are encouraged to apply for a Camp Scholarship Fund through the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp ProgramApplications will be accepted through March 5, 2012. Eligible camps will identify qualified campers and offer up to $5,000 in scholarship support.

Autism Speaksencourages prospective campers and their families to contact their camp organizations to submit an application. Camps should have a successful history of supporting individuals with autism; preference will be given to camps that provide opportunities for inclusion with typically developing peers and those located in underserved communities.

To apply, please visit the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Program grants webpage.

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 social and behavioral challenges, as well as repetitive behaviors. An estimated 1 in 110 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 600 percent increase in the past two decades that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is the world’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $173 million to research and developing innovative 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 $300 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, a Grandparent’s Guide to Autism, 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 29 states thus far, with bills pending in an additional 10 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 the Co-Founders
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 and Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association. He served as Vice Chairman of General Electric; and as the Chief Executive Officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the board of directors of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, Mission Product, EMI Group Global Ltd., and AMC Networks Inc., and is a Trustee of the New York Presbyterian hospital.  Suzanne Wright is a Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards, the Women of Distinction Award from Palm Beach Atlantic University, 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 the first ever Double Helix Award for Corporate Leadership from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the NYU Child Advocacy Award, the Castle Connolly National Health Leadership Award and the American Ireland Fund Humanitarian Award.  In the past couple of years the Wrights have received honorary doctorate degrees from St. John’s University, St. Joseph’s University and UMass Medical School.