Our Impact 2023

The mission of the Eagles Autism Foundation is to support the highest quality and most impactful autism research and care to improve the lives of affected individuals and families now, as well as foster the acquisition of knowledge, technologies, and discoveries that will bring new opportunities in the future. While we remain steadfast in our commitment to fund the most innovative research, we also recognize the immediate need to serve individuals through the community grant program. Stay tuned for updates regarding our 2023 funding process.

2023 Panelists

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Dr. Emanuel DiCicco-Bloom

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Professor, Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Chair of the NIH Developmental Brain Disorders study section, member of the Society for Neuroscience Audit Committee, serves on Autism Science Foundation and the American Brain Coalition panels

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Anita Bhattacharyya

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Associate Professor, Cell and Regenerative Biology

martin blaser

Dr. Martin J. Blaser

Rutgers Center for Biotechnology and Medicine

Chair of the Human Microbiome at Rutgers University, Professor of Medicineand Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Director of the Center for AdvancedBiotechnology and Medicine.

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Eric Butter

Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Chief of the Division of Psychology in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Chief of the Section of Psychology at Nationwide Children’s and Director of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Child Development Center

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Dr. Silvia De Rubeis

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Associate Professor, Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment, Department of Psychiatry, Mindich Child Health and Development Institute, and Friedman Brain Institute at the IcahnSchool of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

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Dr. Susan Hyman

University of Rochester Medical Center

Professor, Department of Pediatrics; Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Suzannah Iadarola

University of Rochester Medical Center

Associate Professor – Department of Pediatrics, Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics (SMD) Senior Instructor of Pediatrics

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Dr. Paul Jenkins

University of Michigan

Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Eric Levine

Univeristy of Connecticut School of Medicine

Professor of Neuroscience, Associate Director, Neuroscience Graduate Program

chiara manzini

Dr. Chiara Manzini

Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School The Child Health Institute of NJ

Associate Professor of the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Eric Morrow

Brown University

Mencoff Family Professor of Biology, Professor of Brain Science, Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior

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Dr. Tomasz Nowakowski

University of California San Francisco

Assistant Professor, Neurological Surgery School of Medicine; New York Stem Cell Foundation, Robertson Neuroscience Investigator

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Dr. Damon Page

Seattle Children’s, University of Washington

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Tim Roberts

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Vice-chair of Research for the Department of Radiology and the Oberkircher Family Endowed Chair in Pediatric Radiology at CHOP

Dr. Celine Saulnier

Dr. Celine Saulnier

Neurodevelopmental Assessment and Consulting Services

Founder; Clinician-Scientist

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Dr. Jill Silverman

UC Davis

Professor, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Neuroscience Researchers


Dr. Catherine Stoodley

American University

Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Director of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program

Lonnie Zwaigenbaum

Dr. Lonnie Zwaigenbaum

University of Alberta, Canada

Professor & Director of Autism Research Center

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Dr. Peter Tsai

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Associate Professor, Director of the Cerebellar Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic at Children’s Health

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Dr. Sara Webb

Seattle Children’s, University of Washington

Professor, Associate Director & Director of the Clinical Translational Core, Eunice Kennedy Shriver Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center

Scientists and specialist in autism meet on December 5, 2023 in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles)

Dr. Benjamin Yerys

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Associate Professor; Psychiatry, Psychologist; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Director; Data and Statistical Core, Center for Autism Research, Director;Transition to Adulthood, Director; Clinical Translational Core, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Bar Ilan University

Primary Investigator: Evan Elliott

Pilot Project: Mechanisms and treatment of Autism-associated microbiome dysbiosis

Brown University

Primary Investigator: Sofia Lizarraga

Pilot Project: Translational studies in ASH1L-related disorders

IOWA University

Primary Investigator: Edwin Abel

Pilot Project: Characterizing the functional impact of mutations in Nr4a2-related Neurodevelopmental Syndrome

University of California, Davis

Primary Investigator: Kim McAllister

Pilot Project: Identifying a novel neuro-immune protein interactome central to models of autism spectrum disorder

University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine

Primary Investigator: Erica Korb

Pilot Project: Endocrine disrupting chemical effects on the brain epigenome

Washington University School of Medicine

Primary Investigator: Adam Thomas Eggebrecht

Pilot Project: Establishing Specificity of Motor Imitation as a Biomarker for Autism Spectrum Disorder

University of Wisconsin Madison

Primary Investigator: Justin Wolter

Pilot Project: Identifying common genetic variants that affect molecular & cellular traits in ASD macrocephaly

Primary Investigator: Xinyu Zhao

Pilot Project: Epigenetic regulation of neuronal maturation and autism

Yale Child Study Center

Primary Investigator: James McPartland

Pilot Project: Biomarker development in preschool children with autism and intellectual disability

Seattle Children's Research Institute

Primary Investigator: Karen Bearss

Pilot Project: Pilot Randomized Trial of the RUBI Program for Families of Autistic Adults

Child Mind Institute

Primary Investigator: Adriana Di Martino

Pilot Project: Delineating a path toward brain connectome biomarkers of treatment in autism

UCLA logo

Primary Investigator: Daniel H. Geschwind

Pilot Project: Enhancer-targeted correction of haploinsufficient gene expression in mouse models of autism

UNC Chapel Hill

Primary Investigator: Hiroyuki Kato

Pilot Project: Linking cortical hypo connectivity and reduced sensory habituation in autism mouse models

Post Doctoral Fellowships

Drexel University

Dr. Elliot Gavin Keenan – Autism-Adapted Criteria for Manic Episode

A Step Up Academy Logo

A Step Up Academy

A Step Up Academy’s (ASUA) mission is to prepare students to become engaged participants in society by developing innovative academic, social, emotional, and behavioral programming as well as impactful community partnerships. In service of that mission, our transition program is critical to building skills that prepare students for future careers in fields that suit their unique interests. Reaching for Independence and Successful Employment (RISE) is a new program that provides valuable in and out of school work experiences for our students. The program includes the PAES Lab and Spectrum Greenhouse, while building new and expanded opportunities. RISE will include three career tracks for students to explore in administration, sustainability, and the arts. Students will use various forms of technology to design, produce, market, and sell artistic items. For students who are not of transition age, the RISE Program will provide meaningful introductions to new skills they can develop early in their educational careers.

Valley Forge Educational Services

Valley Forge Educational Services

Founded in 1959, Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES) offers a continuum of educational, summer, and employment-related programs for children and adults with special needs. VFES is most well-known for The Vanguard School – a Pennsylvania licensed, approved private school serving students, 4–21 years of age, the majority (70%) diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Vanguard School programs extend beyond the traditional classroom. Many of our students participate in community-based employment where they receive valuable employment readiness and job training. Many also take part in our community-based instruction to learn daily living and life skills. Community-based programming is critical in learning to live as independently as possible. Meeting transportation needs will allow a continued impact throughout the community by providing access to services and programs.

The Pathway School

The Pathway School

The Pathway School is a special education school founded in 1961 for students ages 5 to 21 years old. Whether a child/youth has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, a learning disability, or emotional management issues, Pathway’s educators and clinical/therapeutic support professionals meet individual students where they are, inspire their courage as learners, and teach them the way they learn best. Our mission enables students to acquire both education and practical life skills helping them thrive in their communities as children, and later as adults. We’re launching the first of potentially multiple autism support classrooms designed to address the needs of these students/families in the region. The Autism Support Classroom will assist students with learning verbal behavior, social skills, life skills, and classroom readiness skills. Instruction will be provided within regular school hours. All staff in the classroom will be qualified to work with each student equally. This grant will help us acquire needed items for the initial classroom (specialized equipment, learning devices, furniture).



Variety-the Children’s Charity of the Delaware Valley is expanding their innovative workforce development model VarietyWorks. This model provides young adults with autism and other disabilities ages 14-24 with individualized vocational training that prepares them for a career of their choosing and places them in community employment.  Variety will use funds to significantly improve the training spaces and classrooms on campus with adaptive tools and increased accessibility, as well as prepare to open a third mobile café while leveraging other funding to build a pre-apprenticeship model in the food service industry.

Philadelphia Charter School

Philadelphia Charter School

The Philadelphia Charter School for Arts and Sciences is a K-8 neighborhood charter school with an arts-immersive curriculum. The school has 3 autistic support classrooms in addition to a large population of children with ASD who require varying levels of support in regular education classrooms. The autistic support program at Arts and Sciences has grown considerably, and meeting the needs of children with ASD is a top priority. The school currently has two rooms on the first floor of the building ready to be transformed into safe, calming spaces for students to de-escalate from emotional or physical displays of dysregulation or to visit for lessons on self-regulation techniques. Arts and Sciences has three dedicated staff members who have access to the room. These staff members are trained to help students who are in distress regulate themselves through sensory exercises before returning to the classroom ready to learn. Students in the specialized autistic support classrooms attend school in the summer months, and a sensory room will be an incredible addition to the summer curriculum. Year round this space will have a major impact on the education and well-being of students with ASD, their teachers, support staff, and all who utilize this resource.

Ken's Krew

Ken’s Krew Inc.

Every individual deserves the opportunity to enter the workforce, earn a fair wage, and reach their full potential.  Ken’s Krew Inc. will continue to expand job placement and training services, which will train and place an additional 40 young adults with autism in sustainable careers in the Philadelphia area. Ken’s Krew Inc was founded 25 years ago by two families in the Philadelphia area.  KKI provides recruitment and job placement, training and retention services to individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. To date, the organization has assisted over 900 individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities in their transition from students to valued and productive employees. The efforts of these individuals, along with their vocational coordinators, KKI’s employment partners, and the support of their families has enabled our members to succeed in competitive integrative employment and to live more independent and fulfilling lives as productive members of the communities in which they live and work. KKI currently operates in nine states, supporting over 550 individuals in 197 retail and hospitality locations.  Vocational coordinators assess, train and support both the worker and the employer. Participants in the program are taught the skills necessary for independent employment and receive ongoing support services to maximize their potential for job success and employment retention.

So Much To Give Cafe

Pillars of Light and Love – So much to Give Inclusive Café

On behalf of Pillars of Light and Love (Pillars), So Much To Give Inclusive Café is café that offers an inclusive dining experience and work place. The purchase of accessible equipment for our employees to utilize while at work will benefit not only the café but the working community. We hope one day to be able to work with a POS company using the lessons that we’ve learned to create even more accessible equipment for individuals with Autism and other diagnosed disabilities to make restaurant positions more accessible for all.

Raise The Bar

Raise the Bar Family Services

Raise the Bar works to support families of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in the underserved community of Camden, NJ. Research has illustrated the unique challenges for low socioeconomic families raising a child with disabilities, particularly less access to essential services. Additionally, developing strong social connections has been shown to have a positive effect on caregivers, which then positively affects the outcomes of the youth with disabilities and the broader family unit. We utilized existing research in the disability space and the specific findings from our local community to create the Caregiver Night program model. This program fills an essential need in a community lacking tailored services for families of children with disabilities. Through a combination of educational workshops, support groups, and self-care events, Caregiver Nights provides a dedicated space for a community of families that has been overlooked and underserved.

Shore Medical Center

Shore Medical Center

To provide specialized emergency hospital care for adult patients with sensory needs for patients in Atlantic, Cape May, and Cumberland Counties as well as summer visitors. Provides patients with a safe and sensory-calming environment. The first adult emergency department sensory room in the region. Adult Sensory Disorders include: Sensory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The adult sensory room will be accessible to anyone who would benefit from the space. The Medical center will educate all department staff and security for working with, and caring for, adults with sensory needs.

Neurodiversity Employment Network

Neurodiversity Employment Network

The Neuroinclusion Case Study Connect program is an initiative aimed at enhancing employer understanding of neurodiversity through a dynamic collection of video case studies created by a neurodiverse team, who will receive training and job experience as part of the project. This program offers a unique platform where individuals with diverse neurological profiles, as well as professionals who have created neuroinclusive workplaces, share their personal experiences and journeys within the workplace. By spotlighting these narratives, employers gain valuable insights into the perspectives of neurodivergent employees and can understand how different businesses of all sizes have approached neuroinclusion. Neuroinclusion Case Connect aspires to bridge the gap between awareness and action, fostering inclusive work environments where all talents can flourish. This program aims to educate employers of all types and sizes to see how others have embraced neuroinclusion, and to equip them with the ideas and the tools to take action.

Special Olympics of Pennsylvania

Special Olympics of Pennsylvania

Special Olympics Pennsylvania (SOPA) The Cities of Inclusion project is focused on taking a comprehensive citywide approach in our goal to ensure Philadelphia is a city where people with disabilities can lead healthy and fulfilling lives as respected members of an inclusive society. The focus areas we selected, education, employment, health, housing, and access to information & services, encompass our approach towards making Philadelphia a City of Inclusion.

SJU Kinney Center

SJU Kinney Center

To improve college experience and employment outcomes for students with autism across the Greater Philadelphia area, the Kinney Center is creating CLASS (Colleges Learn about Autistic Student Support). CLASS is an online self-paced training program based on a decade of synchronous trainings by Kinney. The training will cover topics critical to improve educational experiences of autistic people, such as creating an ASD-friendly learning experience; accommodating a student on the spectrum in residential life; preparing autistic students for employment and other topics. Incorporating direct experience, surveys and feedback from neurodiverse students, CLASS will educate academic advisors, faculty, public safety, career services and other units on campus critical for an ASD-student wellbeing. As a result, more students with autism will persist and graduate from college with practical skills for securing employment. These youth will become independent members of society, will lead a full life and will benefit the economy.

Woods Services

Woods Services

Woods Services is a population health management organization that, through a network of nonprofits in PA and NJ, provides care to meet the lifelong needs of more than 23,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, autism, and acquired brain injury who also have complex medical and genetic conditions. To increase access to care for those with autism or mental health issues, Woods recently opened a new Center for Behavioral. Health. Among the services provided is autism assessment, diagnosis and treatment of children and youth. The clinicians want to provide a sensory-friendly and low-stress environment for evaluations or play therapy, which will help ensure an accurate diagnosis, The Center will also help families navigate the treatment journey, which can be difficult and overwhelming.

Theatre Horizon

Theatre Horizon

Since Theatre Horizon’s founding in 2005, our Autism Drama Program (ADP) is the only arts education program of its kind in the Philadelphia region that inspires imagination, communication, and interest in personal relationships for youth and young adults on the autism spectrum. Our ADP classes have historically consisted of three different sessions (Summer, Fall, and Spring) that meet weekly over six weeks. We offer a variety of topics like Youth Drama, Storytelling & The Art of Playwriting, and Acting 101. Feedback from our students and families indicates that they desire even more experiences throughout the year. Your support would allow us to launch and successfully execute our first-ever on-site ADP Summer Drama Camp, where 10 students on the autism spectrum would participate in 15 hours of instruction over the span of five days at Theatre Horizon. In ADP Summer Camp, through improv games, creative play, and immersive theatre and world-building experiences, students will learn flexible thinking and valuable social skills in an environment that celebrates their unique talents. This funding would  allow us to: carry out technology upgrades in our classroom, including a smartboard, class set of tablets, speakers, and portable lighting equipment so the camp can be made more accessible, engaging, immersive, and interactive for our students; purchase costumes and props to help their ideas can come to life; document and evaluate the experience completed by participants; and provide full and partial scholarships to remove the potential financial barrier of participating for 8 students.

Center for Autism

Center for Autism

The Center for Autism (CFA) is the nation’s oldest autism-specific treatment center and has been proudly serving the Philadelphia community since 1955. CFA’s mission is to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families. CFA provides a full range of assessment and treatment services across the lifespan utilizing a multidisciplinary, relationship-based approach. CFA’s experienced and dedicated clinicians develop individualized treatment plans based on ongoing assessment of each participant’s strengths and needs. Ultimately, CFA aims to help Autistic individuals* develop lifelong skills, build meaningful relationships, and thrive in the community. (*We will alternate between using person-first language and identity-first language to reflect our commitment to honoring varying preferences among the autistic community. When working with clients, CFA always honors and respects the individual’s choice of how to be identified). To improve our ability to provide services with the greatest impact, CFA will invest in new gross motor equipment to enhance developmental skills across the lifespan, providing inclusive opportunities for multi-sensory activities regardless of age and developmental level. Engaging in physical and multi-sensory activities to address developmental goals is central to each of our programs, and the use of appropriate equipment is critical to client engagement, accessibility, and program effectiveness.

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Center for Autism

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia – Center for Autism

Funding provided directly from Huddle Up for Autism event, “The Center for Autism Research (CAR) coordinates and supports research on autism spectrum disorder (ASD). CAR’s goals are to identify the underlying causes of ASD in order to develop effective treatments, and support individuals with ASD and their families by providing evidence-based resources and education.”

Popcorn for the People

Popcorn for the People

Popcorn for the people has a vision of Let’s Work For Good in order to create a world where any adult interested in working can find a career they enjoy; earn fair, competitive wages; and maximize their independence.  They envision a society where businesses appreciate all abilities, value a neurodiverse workforce and provide necessary supports.  With the Eagles Autism Foundation grant, more employment opportunities will be created for the neurodiverse population.  With the Eagles Autism Foundation funding and the support of Wawa and Nouryon, a popcorn production factory will be opening in Philadelphia creating more employment and inspiration in the community.

Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center

Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center

SARRC’s clinical model is grounded in applied behavior analysis (ABA) with a particular focus on naturalistic behavioral interventions in inclusive environments, including but not limited to: home, school, job or community. SARRC provides support through children’s services, family services, teen and adult services, diagnostic services, community services, and ongoing research studies. Each of SARRC’s programs, classes, and trainings are guided by best practice models; the most currently available science; increasing independence and producing meaningful outcomes; and the individualized needs of the children, teens, adults, and families we serve.

Philadelphia Orchestra

Philadelphia Orchestra

The Philadelphia Orchestra requests the Eagles Autism Foundation’s support to continue our ongoing partnership with a sensory-friendly, in-person performance by the full Orchestra to kick off the Eagles Autism Challenge in 2024. The performance will welcome neuro-diverse children and their families to the Novacare Complex. The performance may also be livestreamed and will be recorded and presented virtually at a later date. Both the live performance and the digital presentation will be a part of the Orchestra’s Our City, Your Orchestra (OCYO) initiative, now entering its fourth season. OCYO uncovers and amplifies the voices, stories, and causes championed by unique organizations and businesses that align with what the Orchestra is today, and what we are becoming. In addition to the performance, the Orchestra will also offer an instrument petting zoo (in partnership with ArtReach), an instrument-making station, t-shirt decorating, mask decorating, and a balloon artist. The Foundation will provide a sensory-friendly space and inclusive elements for participants including a visual schedule, story-based intervention, gift bags for attendees with sensory items, and more.

Kulture City

Kulture City

Kulture city is the leading non-profit on sensory accessibility and acceptance for those with invisible disabilities. Kulture city trains venues and provides sensory inclusive certifications. This grant was used to promote accessibility at Super Bowl LVII