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Philanthropy Report 2020 - 2021

  • Meredith Bloom
Posted on January 24, 2022

Though a great deal of the Institute’s research is funded by competitive grants, the work we do also depends on the philanthropic support of foundation grants and gifts from individual donors. The generosity of donors like the Lim Family, whose support of Transition Pathways has been monumental, and foundations such as the Coulter Transitional Research Program, which supports the Trestle Project, funds many of our projects.  


Over the past few years, the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute has been a grateful recipient of philanthropic funding from the Wawa Foundation. One such project that has been showing positive results in its early research is the “Childcare based early intervention program” led by Dr. Giacomo Vivanti. His pilot project focuses on implementing an early intervention program in a childcare center that works with underserved families.  


Dr. Vivanti and his team have partnered with the So Love Autistic Center in Drexel Hill, PA, which specializes in early learning and care for children diagnosed with autism. The staff of So Love were trained in an evidence-supported intervention program called the Group Early Start Denver Model (G-ESDM). They integrated G-ESDM into the daily routines of teachers and students. The So Love staff saw many positive results, especially in the areas of communication and socialization. They reported that integrating this program permanently would have a positive effect on the center as a whole.   


By partnering with So Love in this pilot study, there is a strong indication that the gains experienced by children who received this intervention would be effective in other daycare settings. The preliminary data shows that incorporating G-ESDM into daycare settings can be feasible, acceptable, and beneficial for children and families. We are excited about the findings and are looking to continue the expansion of this work in 2022 and beyond with other childcare and early intervention centers in and around the Philadelphia region. 


While generous foundation support like this is key to the Institute's success, gifts big and small can make a huge impact on our work and in our community. Click here to learn about ways to support the work of the Autism Institute.