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Autism Speaks Seeks Applications for New Round of Family Services Community Grants

NEW YORK, NY (July 24, 2008) -- Autism Speaks, the nation's largest autism advocacy organization, today announced that it is seeking applications for its third round of Family Services Community Grants to promote services that enrich the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Fifty grants totaling more than $1 million have been awarded since the inception of the Family Services Community Grants program.

Grant proposals are being solicited that address one of the following areas of need: Education, Recreation/Community Activities, Equipment/Supportive Technology, or Young Adult and Adult Services. More information about the Family Services Community Grants is available here. Successful applicants will apply grant funding to support innovative and collaborative new programs or the expansion of existing projects to new participants. All applications must be submitted online at: by September 26, 2008.

In June, Autism Speaks approved more than $450,000 in funding for 21 Family Services Community Grants to help community organizations across the country expand existing programs and create new ones that demonstrate true innovation. Autism Speaks received 370 applications from organizations throughout the United States and Canada in this second grant cycle. Information about grant recipients can be viewed here.

“We encourage organizations that are providing services to individuals with autism in innovative ways to apply for funding so that they can expand and enhance their efforts to serve this growing community,” said Peter Bell, Autism Speaks Executive Vice President for Programs and Services.

A two-tier review process will once again be used to assess each grant application. In the first tier, each proposal will be reviewed by both the parent of a child with autism who has experience in the area of need and an autism professional with expertise in that same area. To help ensure objectivity, proposals will be assigned to reviewers located in a different geographic location from the applicant. Proposals that earn an established minimum score will reviewed by members of the Autism Speaks Family Services Committee (FSC). All recommendations for funding of the Autism Speaks Family Services Committee must be approved by the Board of Directors of Autism Speaks.

The FSC members will consider the following criteria for each program:

  • Field building – The grant's impact on increasing services (new opportunities) and the capacity of service providers;
  • Numbers served – The number of individuals currently being served by the program and its ability to expand to serve more people;
  • Innovation – The creativity of the proposal;
  • Ability to replicate – The viability of the program as a model for the development of similar programs;
  • Clarity – The extent of the proposal's defined interim and outcome measures;
  • Cost effectiveness – Proposals must demonstrate cost effectiveness and include a reasonable, detailed line item budget;
  • Credibility – The qualifications of the organization, its principals and advisors;
  • Sustainability/viability – The ability to continue the project beyond this funding cycle

Autism is a complex brain disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by extreme behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in one in 150 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. The diagnosis of autism has increased tenfold in the last decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

Autism Speaks is dedicated to increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders, to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, and to advocating for the needs of affected families. It was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Vice Chairman, General Electric, and served as chief executive officer of NBC for more than twenty years. Autism Speaks has merged with both the National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) and Cure Autism Now (CAN), bringing together the nation's three leading autism advocacy organizations. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit