Kaplan University Launches First Online Autism Speaks U Chapter

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Nov. 19, 2012 — 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.

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