(NEW YORK, N.Y., December 20, 2012) – Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, today announced that it has awarded more than $1 million to advance the work of community-based organizations. Funding will expand existing programs to serve more individuals with autism or create new programs that demonstrate innovation in providing services to improve and enrich the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) across the U.S. and Canada through its Family Services Community Grants and Chapter Grants programs.
The Family Services Community Grants are focused on proposals that serve to build the field of services for individuals with autism and expand the capacity to effectively serve this growing community. Applicants had to address one of the three areas of need: education, recreation and community activities, and young adult/adult services. Successful applicants can apply grant funding either to support new programs or expand existing projects. Forty-eight grants were awarded in the U.S. and Canada totaling more than $930,000. Funded programs include a library training program to better support children with autism, education for Scouting leaders to include scouts with ASD, and an employment readiness program for adults with ASD.
The Family Services Chapter Grants program, which was launched this year, provides one-time grants of up to $5,000 for local community organizations in four large geographic Autism Speaks chapters: Chicagoland, St. Louis, South Florida and Southern California. Applicants had to address one of the four areas of need: education, recreation and community activities, young adult/adult services or equipment and supportive technology. Twenty-one grants were awarded totaling $100,000. “Providing funding to local organizations to further their work in our communities is very important to Autism Speaks and we look forward to expanding the Chapter Grant model in 2013,” said Cathy Kanefsky, Autism Speaks vice president of Field and Chapter Development.
“We were extremely pleased with the innovation and collaborative nature of the proposals for the Family Services Community Grants, as well as the exceptional quality of the inaugural Family Services Chapter Grant applications,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks vice president of Family 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.”
Recipients for both the Family Services Community Grants and the Chapter Grants are listed on the Autism Speaks website, as well as the searchable online grant database. All applicants have also been added to the Autism Speaks Family Services Resource Guide as the organization continues to connect families and service providers with resources in their communities. As part of the grant award, all projects must ultimately provide a manual, video, tool kit or similar resource that will be available on the Autism Speaks website so that other organizations may replicate the programs and further enhance services for those affected by ASD.
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 88 children in the U.S. is on the autism spectrum – a 78 percent increase in six 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 $195 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. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in over 40 countries on 5 continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.