Matthew Cortland, co-founder of the Student Clubs for Autism Speaks (SCAS), was recently honored by Kohl's Kids Who Care Foundation. Over 12,500 kids were nominated and Matthew finished among the top earning one of 10 national scholarships worth $5,000. In addition, he receives $1,000 in regional winnings and Kohl's will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on Cortland's behalf.
In 2005, Matthew participated in his first Walk for Autism Research, the signature fundraising event of the National Alliance for Autism Research (now Autism Speaks Walk Now for Autism). Inspired by a conversation he had with a parent that day, Matthew and his best friend founded Students Together for Autism Research (S.T.A.R.) to increase student and community autism awareness. With more than 100 members, S.T.A.R. initiated a weekly soccer club that works with autistic children ages 3 to 8 and has raised nearly $20,000 over the past three years. Most recently, Matthew worked with Autism Speaks to create one student club for both High School and Middle School level students now called Student Clubs for Autism Speaks. SCAS launched this spring as a combination of two clubs formed independently of each other with similar goals.
“Autism affects one in 96 people in [New Jersey]. The need for the S.T.A.R. club is a result of that prevalence,” said Denise Cortland, Matthew's mother and nominator.
“Kohl's is very proud of our nation's youth and the compassion they display on local and national levels,” said Julie Gardner, Kohl's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “These winners are directly impacting the programs they touch, but also are helping transform their communities into a better place for future generations. We are impressed by Matthew's dedication and are certain his efforts will inspire others to make a difference too.”
To learn more about the history of SCAS or how to start a club at your school, please click