Kaplan University Launches First Online Autism Speaks U Chapter to Raise Awareness and Funds for Autism Advocacy and Research

Kaplan University students have established the first-ever online chapter of Autism Speaks U to support Autism Speaks, North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. The Autism Speaks U Kaplan University chapter includes members from all over the country who work together using a unique e-board format to host virtual meetings and online events as well as traditional tactics for raising awareness and funds to support the organization.

According to Patti Pelletier, academic chair for the Kaplan University Department of Educational Studies and one of the founding administrators for Autism Speaks U Chapter Kaplan University Online, the interest among students across the virtual campus has exceeded expectations. To date, the chapter has assembled 115 members and raised almost $3,000 since its launch in September.

"The rapid success of this landmark online chapter of Autism Speaks U is a testament to the passion our students hold for individuals impacted by autism including their families," said Pelletier. “Kaplan University strives to provide all of our students with experiences that prepare them for careers in the fields they study—not just in the classroom, but in the real world.”

The Autism Speaks U Kaplan University chapter has continued efforts to support those impacted by autism since the group was formed this fall. The e-board of students, all from the College of Arts & Sciences, which is part of the newly established Kaplan University College of Public Service, is planning additional fundraising efforts, such as, bake sales and Walk Now for Autism on some of Kaplan’s physical campus locations. According to Pelletier, the chapter will also focus on increasing autism awareness through the creation of a book club and special social media programming.

“We are thrilled to have Autism Speaks U Kaplan University establish the first online collegiate chapter,” said Sarah Caminker, development manager for Autism Speaks U. “We look forward to seeing their efforts grow and inspire students and faculty across the country to raise awareness, compassion and hope for the autism community.”

For more information about Autism Speak U Kaplan University Online, email studentlife@kaplan.edu. Membership is open to any interested student from Kaplan University.

Launched in 2008, Autism Speaks U, an initiative of Autism Speaks, is designed to support college students, alumni and faculty in their awareness, advocacy and fundraising efforts. Student-organized events can range from hosting a 5K run, benefit concert, eating contest, panel on autism and more. While many of the students involved with Autism Speaks U have a personal connection to autism, others not directly affected have also joined the program to support the cause.

Since its inaugural event at Penn State University in 2006, Autism Speaks U events have raised over $1 million and student-organized Walk Now for Autism Speaks teams have brought in millions more. Autism Speaks U events and chapters exist at colleges and universities across the country including Penn State University, University of California, Berkeley, Cornell University, University of Michigan, Ohio State University, University of Connecticut, Duke University, Northwestern University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

College students, faculty and alumni can get involved with Autism Speaks U by visiting AutismSpeaks.org/U.

About Kaplan University

Kaplan University offers a different school of thought for higher education. It strives to help adult students unlock their talent by providing a practical, student-centered education that prepares them for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries. The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Kaplan University serves nearly 50,000 online and campus-based students. The University has 11 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland and Maine, and Kaplan University Learning Centers in Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Florida.

Kaplan University is one of Kaplan, Inc.’s higher education institutions, which serve approximately 73,000 students online and through approximately 70 campus-based schools across the United States. Kaplan’s higher education schools offer a spectrum of academic opportunities, from certificates and diplomas to graduate and professional degrees, including a juris doctor degree. Kaplan, Inc. is a leading international provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. It is a subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO), and its largest division. For more information, visit http://www.kaplanuniversity.edu today.

ABOUT AUTISM

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder that inhibits a person's ability to communicate and develop social relationships, and is often accompanied by behavioral challenges. Autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed in 1 in 88 children in the United States, affecting four times as many boys as girls. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown.

ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS

Autism Speaks is North America’s largest autism science and advocacy organization. Since its inception in 2005, Autism Speaks has made enormous strides, committing over $173 million to research and developing innovative new resources for families. The organization is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. In addition to funding research, Autism Speaks also supports the Autism Treatment Network, Autism Genetic Resource Exchange and several other scientific and clinical programs. Notable awareness initiatives include the establishment of the annual United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2 and an award-winning “Learn the Signs” campaign with the Ad Council which has received over $249 million in donated media. Autism Speaks family resources include the Autism Video Glossary, a 100 Day Kit for newly-diagnosed families, a School Community Tool Kit and a community grant program. Autism Speaks has played a critical role in securing federal legislation to advance the government’s response to autism, and has successfully advocated for insurance reform to cover behavioral treatments. Each year Walk Now for Autism Speaks events are held in more than 80 cities across North America. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit autismspeaks.org.

ABOUT AUTISM SPEAKS CO-FOUNDERS

Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Bob Wright is Senior Advisor at Lee Equity Partners, Chairman and CEO of the Palm Beach Civic Association and served as vice chairman, General Electric, and chief e- officer of NBC and NBC Universal for more than twenty years. He also serves on the boards of the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation, RAND Corporation and the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Suzanne Wright has an extensive history of active involvement in community and philanthropic endeavors, mostly directed toward helping children. She serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations and is also Trustee Emeritus of Sarah Lawrence College, her alma mater. Suzanne has received numerous awards such as the CHILD Magazine Children’s Champions Award, Luella Bennack Volunteer Award, Spirit of Achievement award by the Albert Einstein College of Medicine's National Women’s Division and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In 2008, the Wrights were named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world for their commitment to global autism advocacy.

Contacts:

rbb Public Relations
Susan Gilden, 305-448-7536
Susan.gilden@rbbpr.com
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