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Autism Speaks Issues Request for Applications for First Family Service Chapter Grants

NEW YORK, N.Y. (September 12, 2012) – In an effort to increase its impact at the local level, Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, today issued a request for applications for its first Family Services Chapter Grants, a pilot program that seeks to directly support the innovative work of autism service providers in four key geographic chapters of Autism Speaks: South Florida, Chicagoland, Southern California and St. Louis. Local organizations may apply for a grant of up to $5,000 for new programs or the expansion of existing programs.

The focus of the Family Services Chapter Grants is three-fold: to promote local services that enhance the lives of those affected by autism; to expand the capacity to effectively serve this growing community; and to increase the field of service providers in the four chapters. The Family Services Chapter Grants complement existing Family Services grant initiatives, including Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grants, which increase services for individuals with autism and the field of service providers; and the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Program, which selects eligible camps to offer scholarship funds for financially disadvantaged children with autism.

“We are excited to offer the Family Services Chapter Grants to service providers, as there is a great need for quality programs and supports at the local level,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president of Family Services. “The grants will help fill that void by providing funding critical to existing community-based service programs, in addition to encouraging the development of forward thinking, expandable programs for people across the autism spectrum in our chapter communities.” 

Autism Speaks Family Services Chapter Grant proposals must address one of three areas of need: education, recreation/community activities, young adult/youth services or equipment and supportive technology. Autism Speaks will place a significant focus on the end product or deliverable of each proposal that will benefit the autism community beyond those participating in the program. Deliverables include videos, manuals and curricula that will be shared on the Autism Speaks website for the broader community. In addition, Autism Speaks seeks to ensure proposals provide opportunities for individuals with varying functioning levels. Careful consideration will also be given to proposals that specifically address the needs of underserved communities.

Those interested in learning more about the application process and submitting an application can visit www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/grants/chapter-grants. Proposals will be accepted through Autism Speaks’ online grant system from September 12 to October 19. Informational webinars will be held on September 19 at 1:00 p.m. and October 3 at 12:00 pm ET, although attendance is not required. Please email sselkin@autismspeaks.org to register.

Grant applications will be reviewed in a two-tiered process. Each application will first be reviewed by the chapter’s grant review committee (made up of individuals with autism, family members of an individual with autism and an autism professional). All grants that score well will be forwarded to the Chapter Programs and Services Committee. The Programs and Services Committee will make recommendations to the local Board of Directors for approval. The Board will make the final recommendations for grant awards. Key considerations will include: number of individuals served (including individuals not previously served by the organization); field building; innovation and creativity; addressing the needs of the underserved; replicability; defined interim and outcome measures; sustainability and viability of the project and organization; and quality of the deliverable that will be shared with autism community at large.

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 one in 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 1000 percent increase in the past 40 years that is only partly explained by improved diagnosis.

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 over $180 million to research and developing innovative resources for families. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 95 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit www.autismspeaks.org.