The Eagles Autism Foundation has announced that 20 projects specializing in cutting-edge autism research and care will receive $4.1 million in funding. The grants are a direct result of the proceeds raised by participants from the 2022 Eagles Autism Challenge, in addition to other foundation-related fundraising initiatives throughout the year.
A total of 41 letters of intent were submitted for research grant funding. The projects were narrowed down to 30 full proposals that went through a comprehensive evaluation process. Each project was carefully reviewed by an independent team of scientists who have demonstrated a clear and steadfast commitment to autism research, services, and programs. It was then determined that nine pilot studies would be awarded to Boston Children's Hospital (BCH), Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Cleveland Clinic – Lerner Research Institute, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, University of Iowa, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"Since launching the Eagles Autism Challenge in 2018, we have raised more than $20 million and funded 83 research projects and community grants," said Jeffrey Lurie, Chairman and CEO, Philadelphia Eagles. "Once again, Dr. (Emanuel) DiCicco-Bloom and his esteemed panel of colleagues facilitated a thoughtful and well-organized scientific review process that went on to identify 20 projects, all of which have the potential to produce groundbreaking results in the field of autism. This process even led us to discover and fund our first global project. In many ways, 2022 was a record-setting year for the Eagles Autism Foundation, but we know there is more work to be done. We look forward to expanding on our mission and assisting even more families with the help of our community, fans, partners, and supporters."
Awarded to nine organizations, this year's community grants address topics such as neurodiverse employment, speech-language pathology, community inclusion, and behavioral health, among others. The community grants were awarded to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Center for Autism Research, Evidence-Based Practice & Innovation Center, KenCrest, Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support, Popcorn for the People, Salus University: The Speech-Language Institute, Special Olympics Pennsylvania, The Arc Alliance, and Variety – The Children’s Charity of the Delaware Valley.
In an effort to attract researchers to specialize in the field of autism, the two post-doctoral fellowship awards provide opportunities for young investigators in related disciplines to continue their work under the mentorship of experienced scientists in Philadelphia. Supporting these efforts at CHOP and Drexel University will create a pipeline for the future, while attracting talent to our city.
Pilot grants were considered for applicants who completed their doctoral or medical degrees and have a full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty appointment, or equivalent full-time non-tenure track appointment at an accredited academic, medical, or research institution. The community grants program promotes local services that enhance the lives of those affected by autism, expand the capacity of organizations to effectively serve the autism community, and increase services to individuals with autism.
The research proposals were assessed by Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom, the lead scientific advisor from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, and 17 nationally recognized researchers who were individually selected based on the areas represented in the research proposals. The following criteria were closely considered in weighing the merit of each application: significance, investigator(s), innovation, approach, and environment. All research proposals were evaluated for measurable outcomes and transformational impact in the field of autism.
The Eagles Autism Foundation is interested in all areas of basic, population, and clinical research and programs that are designed to elucidate the etiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of autism. The approved research projects spanned the range of building on current ongoing and effective programs to topics and approaches that were novel, exploratory, and innovative. The community grants were distributed to projects that proved to be evidence-based, were aligned with the Eagles Autism Foundation mission, and provided an immediate impact on the community.
To build on this incredible work and expand the impact, a $100,000 matching gift is being offered to Eagles Autism Challenge participants to help with their 2023 fundraising goals. The match has been made possible thanks to an anonymous Eagles Autism Foundation donor. Beginning on Tuesday, March 14 at 9:00 AM ET, the first $100,000 in online donations will be matched, dollar for dollar. There will be no limit on the amount contributed per donation.
"The funds we have been able to raise over the past six years, along with the life-changing resources provided to families in need, would not be possible without the support of so many people," said Ryan Hammond, Executive Director, Eagles Autism Foundation. "We are committed to fostering a world of compassion and acceptance so that individuals with autism can live their best lives. Our peer review panel, the generous donors who graciously support our mission every step of the way, and countless others have all played a pivotal role in our foundation's growth and ability to support the autism community around the world."
The sixth annual Eagles Autism Challenge presented by Lincoln Financial Group will take place on Saturday, May 20, 2023. For more information, or to register, visit EaglesAutismChallenge.org. New participants can use the promo code SPRING23 to receive a 50% discount at registration.
About Eagles Autism Foundation
The Eagles Autism Foundation is dedicated to raising funds for innovative autism research and care programs. By providing the necessary resources to doctors and scientists at leading institutions, we will be able to assist those currently affected by autism, as well as future generations. The Foundation aims to inspire and engage the community, so together, we can provide much-needed support to make a lasting impact in the field of autism. Please visit EaglesAutismFoundation.org