In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 2015, the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) established the Autistic Scholars Fellowship, an ongoing college scholarship program for autistic students.
The ASAN Autistic Scholars Fellowship program, designed to advance campus leadership, provides 4 to 6 autistic students a one-time, $5,000 tuition scholarship each to create systems change on their college campuses. Fellows are required to establish or participate in a leadership role within an ASAN campus chapter or a disability rights student organization, work to promote Autistic culture and community, and take steps to improve disability accessibility and inclusion on their college campuses. Fellows are also expected to check in with ASAN on a monthly basis to receive support in achieving their advocacy projects. Applicants must be Autistic, be willing to publicly identify as such and should have a strong interest in disability rights advocacy and activism.
Scholarship applications are released on the ASAN website annually in mid-July, and applications for the scholarship are due in late October. Application questions will ask students to describe the current problems for autistic and other disabled students on their college campuses and explain how their planned activities under the fellowship will enable them address these problems. ASAN staff reviews completed applications and interviews a select group of students starting in mid-November. We inform fellowship recipients of their selection by early January of the following year.
ASAN will look for the following indicators when screening applicants for the scholarship:
- Strong interest in civil rights advocacy and activism for autistic people and other people with disabilities. If students are not yet involved in disability rights, involvement in or support for other causes can demonstrate potential for leading disability rights efforts.
- A background in and experience with the values of the neurodiversity movement
- A commitment to building Autistic culture and community on their college campus or in their local community
- Commitment to working with all autistic people in an inclusive and welcoming fashion
ASAN is able to offer this program thanks to the support of a generous donor. Questions about the fellowship program and the application process should be directed to Reid Caplan, Leadership Programs Coordinator for ASAN, at email@example.com.