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Autism Speaks Awards Scholarship Funds to Postsecondary Programs

January 29, 2015

Autism Speaks is proud to award $300,000 to 12 postsecondary institutions through the second annual Brian and Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund, which is designed to provide funding and educational opportunities after high school for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Funds were awarded to four-year colleges, two-year colleges, vocational programs and transition programs.

Committed donors and autism advocates Brian and Patricia Kelly partnered with Autism Speaks to help create the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund in July 2013 to develop additional opportunities for young adults with ASD to pursue postsecondary education, and ultimately increase the number of enrolled students on the autism spectrum. Last year, the first annual grant program awarded $249,000 to 13 programs around the country. Learn more about this grant program here.

Learn more about each of the programs, including quotes from many of the recipients, below:

Four-Year Colleges
Two-Year Colleges
Vocational Programs
Transition Programs

Four-Year Colleges

Youngstown State University
YSU Transition Options in Postsecondary Education Settings for Individuals with ASD (TOPS)
Youngstown, OH

"The YSU community is honored to be a recipient of the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship though Autism Speaks.  YSU-TOPS serves young adults with autism across the Youngstown region as they access transition and postsecondary opportunities. Our scholarship students will benefit from participation in YSU-TOPS through the provision of educational coaches and experiences aimed at enhancing skills students need to succeed in college and careers. Although YSU offers all students a variety of supports and services, TOPS educational coaches provide the customized supports TOPS students may need in order to benefit from existing university program, services, and activities while also offering experiences that prepare students for employment." 
- Dr. Darlene Unger, Director, Center for Autism Studies

University of Missouri at St. Louis
St. Louis, MO

"SUCCEED at the University of Missouri St. Louis is honored to be a recipient of the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund. The primary purpose of SUCCEED is to promote the acquisition of independent living skills, vocational skills, and a social network in preparation for degree-seeking programs and employment.  These scholarship funds will make it possible for us to increase access to the SUCCEED program by students with ASD who lack the financial resources for postsecondary education. In this sense, the scholarship funds have the potential to be life-changing.  On behalf of our students and their families, we are deeply grateful." 
Deborah Baldini, Ph.D., Associate Dean University of Missouri St. Louis, SUCCEED

University of St. Thomas
ASD College Success: Intervention to Support Access and Progression in Postsecondary Education
Minneapolis, MN

AJ Drexel Autism Institute
Drexel Autism Support Program
Philadelphia, PA

“The Drexel Autism Support Program (DASP) takes great pride in having been identified by Autism Speaks as the recipient of the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship. This generous award will be used to provide scholarships to a handful of deserving undergraduates in order to help close the college financing gap for scholarship recipients and promote retention to graduation. Since 2008, DASP has provided a peer-mediated community of practice that promotes academic excellence and social integration free of charge for current Drexel students. Our services include but are not limited to peer mentoring to foster psychosocial development, topical workshops that help explicate the hidden curriculum, and social events that promote autism-specific community building and identity formation. This commitment of the Autism Speaks Family Services Committee to Drexel's Autism Support Program is a testament to the achievements of our students and the community they have created at Drexel.”
- Antoinette Torres, Associate Vice Provost, Drexel University 

New York Institute of Technology
Vocational Independence Program (NYIT/VIP)
Old Westbury, NY

"We are very excited to have been chosen as a recipient of a Brian & Patricia Kelly Scholarship grant. As a U.S. Department of Education approved Comprehensive Transition and Post-secondary (CTP) program, we know the importance of job training, along with training in independent living and social skills, in promoting the employment of our students. With the Brian & Patricia Kelly Scholarship grant from Autism Speaks, a number of our students are one step closer to realizing their dreams of employment at a living wage."
- Dr. Ernst Van Bergeijk, Project Director, Associate Dean and Executive Director of NYIT’s Vocational Independence Program

PACE University School of Education TARA Center
OASIS College Support Program
New York, NY

"Pace University’s OASIS College Support Program is both honored and appreciative to receive the Brian and Patricia Kelly Autism Speaks Postsecondary Scholarship Award. OASIS is a comprehensive college support program for individuals on the spectrum serving academic and social needs. Each student is provided with a coach for academic support and a campus life coordinator to encourage participation in social activities within OASIS and the college community at large. A self- supporting program, students attending OASIS are charged an additional fee above and beyond university tuition. The grant assists us to provide scholarships for students who qualify for the program but cannot afford the additional cost. It is our goal to implement services based upon individual needs and to help each student reach his/her greatest potential. The Brian and Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Grant Award provides the opportunity to reach this goal."
Janet D. Mulvey, PhD. Director, The Center for Teaching and Research in Autism, Pace University

University of Arkansas Foundation
Autism Support Program (ASP)
Fayetteville, AR

"The faculty and staff of the Autism Support Program at the University of Arkansas are proud to have been selected to receive a grant from the Brian and Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund through an organization as esteemed as Autism Speaks.  The ASP is committed to teaching our students the executive functioning and social skills they need to achieve their academic potential, to participate fully in university life, and to prepare them for the workforce upon graduation.  This award will make our services more accessible to our deserving students and their families."
- Aleza Greene, Ph.D., Program Director, Autism Support Network, College of Education and Health Professions

Two-Year Colleges

Kennesaw State University
Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth
Kennesaw, GA

"Kennesaw State University’s Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth is honored to be a 2015 recipient of the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship from Autism Speaks. Founded in 2009, the Academy has realized our dream to grow from a two-year certificate program to a four-year, fully inclusive post-secondary experience with the addition of the Enrichment Program. The Enrichment Program focuses on Leadership, Career Development and Advocacy. Successful applicants hold a completion credential from an existing Inclusive Postsecondary Program, and have demonstrated leadership skills and a desire to improve career skills and outcomes. Your generosity will support our efforts towards the increase of outstanding young adults with Autism in finding their Powerful Voice while pursuing the terminal certificate in the field."
- Beverly V. Maddox, Ed.D., Interiem Associate Dean, WellStar College of Health and Human Services

Vocational Programs

Exceptional Minds
Scholarship Opportunities
Sherman Oaks, CA

"Exceptional Minds is very grateful and honored to be a recipient of the Brian & Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund through Autism Speaks. At Exceptional Minds, we turn passion and talent into meaningful careers in computer animation and visual effects.  We are committed to creating a world in which individuals with ASD are recognized for their abilities and can work successfully in their chosen profession.  These funds will provide much-needed financial assistance for several students in our full-time vocational program who would not otherwise be able to attend.  Thank you for helping our students pursue their dreams!"
Yudi Bennett, Director of Operations, Exceptional Minds

Transition Programs

University of Iowa REACH
Realizing Educational and Career Hopes
Iowa City, IA

“The UI REACH Program is honored to be a recipient of the Brian and Patricia Kelly Postsecondary Scholarship Fund.  Our mission is to provide an integrated Big 10 University experience which prepares young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to achieve greater independence through campus involvement, career development, collaborative research, coursework, and residence hall living.  UI REACH is self-supporting. This scholarship will enable our program to offer financial assistance to students with ASD so they can benefit from the social, academic, and career engagement opportunities offered through this postsecondary program.  UI REACH provides the supports students need to be successful while developing greater independence, confidence, and self-advocacy skills.  Alumni with ASD developed impressively from experiencing a holistic college experience at the University of Iowa.  They have established life-long friendships, expanded career interests and social-interpersonal achievements, and have an employment rate (full- or part-time) of over 80%."
Pam Ries, EdD, Director, UI REACH at the University of Iowa

Have Dreams
Have Dreams Academy
Park Ridge, IL

Winthrop University
Winthrop Think College Program
Matthews, NC

"Winthrop Think College is honored to be a recipient of the Autism Speaks Brian and Patricia Kelly Scholarship Award for the 2015-2016 academic year. Winthrop Think College is a fully inclusive post-secondary program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Winthrop Think College students engage in traditional courses with typically developing peers, participate in a variety of recreational activities on campus, complete internships on and off campus to develop skills needed for competitive employment, and receive individualized support from staff and peer mentors to achieve their person-centered plans for fulfilling their dreams for the future. This award will allow five students with autism spectrum disorders to receive financial support to participate in this program. Ultimately, these five students will bring their gifts and talents to Winthrop University to achieve their personal dreams and positively impact the campus community in numerous ways."
- Dr. Deb Leach, Associate Professor of Special Education Winthrop University Counseling, Leadership, and Educational Studies