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OARacle Newsletter

OAR takes great delight in introducing the fall 2023 Peer Education Grant recipients. Launched in 2012, the Peer Education Grant Program supports projects that promote autism awareness and acceptance among nonprofits, communities, libraries, and K-12 public schools using OAR’s peer education resources. This fall, OAR awarded $12,669 to support eight projects. In total, OAR has funded $30,221 for 14 projects in 2023. With these grants, OAR has helped to educate more than 190,000 children through the Kit for Kids program since 2012.

Congratulations to these fall grant recipients!

AnnMarie Bates
Increasing Autism Acceptance in Shepherd Public Schools
Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Mich.

This will be the third year Bates and the Central Michigan University team will use the Kit for Kids materials to increase autism acceptance within local schools. Encouraged by the previous years’ positive feedback from teachers, staff members, and families, Bates hopes to expand into the greater Mount Pleasant area to increase autism acceptance.

Jane Farrell
Acceptance Alliance
East Brook Middle School, Paramus, N.J.

Farrell and the educators at East Brook Middle School intend to use the peer education materials to teach their middle school students about autism while fostering kindness toward and acceptance of all neurodiverse people. The team hopes this initiative will help the students develop into empathetic and accepting adults.

Shawna Gibson
Empowering Our Students Through Inclusion
Flemingsburg Elementary School and Fleming County Sensory Partners, Flemingsburg, Ky.

Serving pre-K through 6th grade, Flemingsburg Elementary School has partnered with a local community advocacy group, Fleming County Sensory Partners, to create fun and engaging activities to increase awareness and inclusion in the local school and community. This program will support and educate students to become inclusive leaders and role models in their greater community. By integrating these programs and events, Gibson’s goal is for the students to be empowered to serve as champions for inclusion.

Kasi Graver
Vacherie Elementary School – Peer Education
Vacherie Elementary, Vacherie, La. 

Vacherie Elementary plans to curate an interactive and engaging program for pre-K to 3rd grade students. The program’s primary goal will be for students to gain a basic understanding of autism and learn ways to positively interact with their autistic peers. The hope is for students to learn how to advocate for their autistic peers and to help educate the local community as a whole.

Pamela Ha
Wagner Ranch Autism Super Advocate Training
Wagner Ranch Elementary, Orinda, Calif.

Using OAR’s peer education resources, Ha and educators at Wagner Ranch will use this grant to foster a more compassionate and inclusive community. They aim to explain the unique perspectives and challenges of autistic individuals to neurotypical students. The team also hopes to build bridges of connection, empathy, and support among the K -8 students, their autistic peers, and the broader local community.

Dana Kern
Autism Awareness
Kuleana Education Academy, Kona, Hawaii

These educators plan to use this grant in their social-emotional learning program to teach students about inclusion and honoring differences. The program will incorporate the school’s nurturing learning environment that encourages exploration, community involvement, and lifelong learning.

Mel Robertson
Awareness and Acceptance of Peers with ASD
Valley Center – Pauma Unified School District, Valley Center, Calif.

Robertson and the district’s educators serve a diverse school population, including Native Americans, migrants, second language learners, and students from low socio-economic status households. This grant will be used to empower autistic students through embedded support, which includes communication support, access to sensory labs throughout the school day, and a robust counseling department to address students’ mental health.

Katie Spear
Peer-Mentoring Club
Lawson Elementary, Jefferson City, Mo.

This K-5 public school will create an after-school peer-mentoring club to enhance autism awareness and acceptance. Students will gain a better understanding of diverse learners and learn skills to build friendships with their peers. Students will also have the opportunity to become peer mentors.

Apply for a Peer Education Grant

Youth group organizers, parents, autism professionals, teachers, and administrators can apply for $500 to $5,000 grants. Applications are due on January 22, 2024, for projects starting as early as April 1, 2024. OAR supports projects that use the Kit for Kids and Autism Tuned In to increase autism awareness and acceptance. Example projects include awareness campaigns, workshops, and presentations. Eligible expenses include but are not limited to OAR’s peer education materials, print costs, honorariums and travel expenses for guest speakers, venue rental, and refreshments.

For questions or comments, contact OAR at programs @