Alpha Xi Delta suspends its partnership with Autism Speaks

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Alpha Xi Delta has ended its national philanthropy with Autism Speaks.

Alpha Xi Delta National Committee announcement on June 14 that they will end their 12-year partnership with Autism Speaks and reorient their philanthropic focus towards the Caring Hearts Campaign, which focuses on service and fundraising for the communities most affected by the pandemic.

A photo published by AXIDCUSE


Melanie Hecker, member of the communications team at Autistic Self-Representation Network in New York, said Autism Speaks, as an organization, primarily conducts research on autism rather than helping or providing services to members of the autism community.

“People are surprised to find that only 4% of their budget is spent on actual services to actually help people,” Hecker said. “The rest of this money goes into causation and healing research, which fuels the stigmatizing message that autism is a tragedy.”

Hecker is the former vice president of the Delta Alpha Pi section of the University of Albany, an honorary organization recognizing students with disabilities and their achievements. Now, Hecker works at ASAN, where she promotes community acceptance of autism and hopes to change the stigma, she said.

ASAN research Autism Speaks Nonprofit 2018 990 Tax Exemption Form and found that only 1% of Autism Speaks budget was spent on family services. In addition, only one person with autism sat on their board of directors in 2018.

Autism Speaks faced a growing backlash, prompting the national AXiD organization to create a work group who consulted nearly 4,000 current and former members and researched Autism Speaks. Following the formation of the task force, AXiD announced that it would end its philanthropic partnership with the organization.

“It’s a step, but it’s a big step,” Hecker said. “The more organizations learn about and end their relationship with Autism Speaks, the more organizations will follow suit. As more and more organizations denounce all links, more and more people are discovering their true nature. ”

Autism Speaks did not respond to a request for comment on the end of their relationship with AXiD.

Going forward, AXiD’s Eta Chapter at the League is launching the Kindly Hearts campaign to serve and fund communities directly affected by the pandemic. According to AXiD Press release, the section’s campaign aims to organize events for local communities focused on supporting students, tackling food insecurity and providing basic necessities.

“We have worked very hard with our national headquarters to try to shift our national philanthropy from Autism Speaks to something else,” said Kate Reynolds, vice president of philanthropy for the Eta chapter of AXiD. “I have organized many meetings with our nationals and Autism Speaks to make our voices heard and to share our concerns.”

AXiD’s Eta Chapter in the League stopped fundraising for Autism Speaks last year, and after meeting their national committee’s fundraising requirements, they focused their philanthropy on other organizations. .

This year, as part of Kindly Hearts, AXiD chapters across the country will choose a local organization to support, said Reynolds. AXiD’s SU chapter chose two organizations: Rescue Mission Syracuse and the Kelberman Center.

Rescue Mission Syracuse provides emergency shelter, housing and employment resources, and the organization aims to fight hunger in the Syracuse area. The Kelberman Center provides autism services to children, adults, and families in Syracuse and central New York City.

“It’s a cause that is close to our hearts as a Chapter and one that we wanted to stay close to,” said Reynolds.

AXiD still plans to host their Kicks and Xiti events, both of which have become staples of their philanthropy, and will also raise funds for Rescue Mission Syracuse. Earlier in the semester, AXiD hosted an event through Good Uncle where students could purchase lunches and a portion of the proceeds went to the Kindly Hearts campaign.

“We have a lot of fun events planned for this semester as part of the Kindly Hearts campaign,” Reynolds said. “(Rescue Mission Syracuse) will provide us with many fundraising opportunities and hopefully in-person services as well. ”

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