The HDS Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit Organization founded to provide mentoring services and opportunities to teens and young adults who have Autism-related disabilities—launched in 2008 by Founder and Chairman, Cristina Gilson-Miranda, the organization funds several initiatives, including the HDS B.R.I.D.G.E.S. GRANT. The purpose of the Grant is to address the social and transitional needs of a niche group of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are seeking to navigate through high school and transition to a post-secondary journey. Through the Grant, the HDS Foundation partners with local high schools to identify candidates who are under-served in these areas. The Foundation provides them with financial and community-based resources along with support that enables the teachers and students to engage in activities they typically would not be able to access. These activities are separate and distinct from those provided by the school system, also known as Community Based Instruction (CBI) trips.
The B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Grant provides specialized programming that offers interactive community and school-based activities. These provide real-life experiences that help students who are on the Autism Spectrum transitioning from high school into post-secondary. Through the Grant, facilitators and teachers of the program receive extra funds that allow the students to engage in non-typical school activities. These include organized community-based trips that teach students the importance of budgeting, resources, independent functioning, development, growth, empowerment, and social skill. During these trips, students will make their own purchases, dine out, and engage in typical social activities with individuals of their peerage. The grant funds also support typical school-based parties, prom, and any other related activities that are not funded by the school system and greatly benefit this specific population.
The Grant is structured as an annual application, available by mid to late January of each year. Schools must submit the grant request by April 28th, and the Foundation will award it by May 15th. The Grant maximum is $5,000 per school year; it is disbursed with part of the funds awarded at the student level. This process creates an exclusive learning opportunity for shopping, eating out, etc. which are vital to the budgeting component of the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Program.
To apply for the BRIDGES GRANT, please click on the link below:
For more information, please contact Liz Falk, HDS Foundation, Program Manager at [email protected] or call-954-217-9597, ext. 260.