The Texas A&M-San Antonio Institute for Autism and Related Disorders (IARD) has been awarded $45,000 from the San Antonio Area Foundation.
The grant, which will be paid in installments over the next three years, supports the IARD’s general operating expenses. The money will help the institute enhance accessibility to essential autism services in Bexar County and launch various programs, assessment methods, educational strategies, behavioral interventions and transition services.
With a projected annual operating cost of $1.5 million, the IARD launched in July 2022 and currently operates Autism Lifeline Links, a collaborative of 14 partner agencies working together to streamline services for individuals with autism and their families. The institute also has several proposed initiatives, including a mobile unit, an autism journal, state conference and clinic.
“The San Antonio Area Foundation finds strength in collaboration with the Texas A&M San Antonio Foundation and the Institute for Autism and Related Disorders,” said Patricia Mejia, the foundation’s vice president for community engagement and impact. “The excellence in education and training that students will have access to through the Institute will undoubtedly create a workforce that is prepared to provide a range of vital services within the autism/mental health sector and will allow us to close opportunity gaps for our young people who need barriers removed for their success. “
To secure the grant, Sarah Minner, director of the IARD, collaborated with A&M-San Antonio’s University Advancement, which builds and cultivates meaningful relationships with alumni, donors, corporations and leaders to assist in the University’s growth.
Founded in 1964, the San Antonio Area Foundation has grown to become one of the top 20 community foundations in the nation. The foundation manages more than 500 charitable funds totaling over $1 billion in assets and serves hundreds of nonprofit organizations every year – grantmaking exceeded $57 million in 2022, including more than $7.5 million in college scholarships.
With its focus on youth success, Minner said, the foundation aligns with the mission of the IARD, which aims to be a premier autism research institute.
“I am thrilled the San Antonio Area Foundation selected IARD and am grateful they are focused on the success of all children,” said Minner.
“Their contribution will allow us to continue to do our work in the community and provide the resources and referrals for critical autism and intellectual developmental disabilities services.”
About 1 in 36 children have been identified with autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While autism occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, the disorder is nearly four times more common among boys than girls. Among A&M-San Antonio’s ASPIRE network, which includes seven South Bexar County ISDs, approximately 1,000 children have been diagnosed with autism, Minner said.