The Autistic People of Color Fund
The Autistic People of Color Fund exists to provide direct support, mutual aid, and reparations by and for autistic people of color. We are based in the nation currently known as the United States, though our reach is global.
We first created the Fund in June 2018 with support from the American Association of People with Disabilities Hearne Leadership Award, along with a portion of all royalties from sales of All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autism. As of Fall 2023, we have given over $300,000 USD in microgrants to individual autistic people of color since we launched the fund.
We rely mostly on small donations from community members to survive. Sometimes donations as small as $5 can make a huge difference in what we can offer to people in need.
Our Mission & Values
The Autistic People of Color Fund practices redistributive justice and mutual aid by returning and sharing money directly to and with autistic people of color. We provide microgrants to Black, Brown, Native, Asian, and mixed-race people in the autistic community for survival, organizing, leisure, and pleasure. We are committed to the principles of Disability Justice, including leadership by those most impacted, intersectionality, anti-capitalist politic, cross-movement solidarity, interdependence, collective access, and collective liberation. Our work is grounded in commitment to ending extractive economies and building and sustaining generative economies.
You can also mail a check. Please make out the check to “Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network” and write “APOC” in the memo line. You can mail your check to Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, 5100 Van Dorn Street, Suite 6633, Lincoln, Nebraska 68506.
We welcome donations as small as a couple dollars and as large as thousands. Your donations are tax-deductible as our fiscal sponsor, the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Its federal tax identification number is 27-5133111. If you are a grantmaking foundation, philanthropic organization, or other financial entity that requires a W9 to process a donation or bequest, you may email [email protected] to request one.
First and foremost, this fund is meant for autistic people of color applying for themselves – autistic youth of color and autistic adults of color. (This includes when an autistic person asks a trusted person to help fill out the application.)
This fund is for autistic people of color, not for parents, caregivers, or family members.
Effective September 1st, 2020, parents, caregivers, and family members will no longer be allowed to apply for funding.
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Since the Fund launched in June 2018, we have had one mission: to support autistic people of color who face the severe financial impact of combined racism and ableism.
This Fund was created by autistic people of color for autistic people of color – NOT for parents, caregivers, or family members of autistic people of color.
During the first year and a half of our existence, the vast majority of our applications came from autistic people of color applying for themselves – occasionally with assistance from a trusted relative or friend to fill out the form. A few applications came from parents of autistic people of color. We were willing to provide some support to these applicants if we believed that the purpose of the microgrant would directly benefit the autistic person of color.
Since January 2020, we have been overwhelmed with applications by parents and other caregivers of autistic people of color to the point where up to 85% of applications in a given cycle are by parents or caregivers, rather than by autistic people of color themselves.
We have never been and are not now a fund to support parents and family members of autistic people of color. This is NOT a parent support fund or a family support fund.
We were founded and created by an autistic person of color, and our leadership remains as autistic people of color. Our director (Lydia) is a Chinese American/East Asian autistic person, our grants selection chair (Morénike) is a multiethnic Black African autistic person, and our disbursements manager through our fiscal sponsor (Sharon) is a mixed-race Native autistic person. All of us are autistic ourselves. Two of us are also parents of autistic children in addition to being autistic ourselves.
We exist to support autistic people of color directly. We do not exist to support families of autistic people, even though supporting a specific autistic person of color sometimes indirectly benefits their family members.
Unfortunately, despite our previous lenience in permitting some parents to apply for household help or individual help for their autistic children of color, we have learned that many of the parents who are seeking assistance from the fund wish to start or continue ABA for their children. Some of these parents have also exchanged comments with another suggesting that they should present misinformation on their applications in order to receive funding that can then go toward ABA.
Our community knows that ABA is abusive and harmful. Although it claims to be “evidence-based,” what the evidence shows is that ABA works – in training children to be compliant, and thus vulnerable to future abuse of all kinds, especially from family members and people in the helping/service/clinical professions. Autistic people of color and white autistic people alike have all documented the harms of ABA, including its cause and effect relationship with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in autistic adults who went through ABA as a child.
Effective as of 1 September 2020, we will no longer consider any applications made by parents or caregivers, and we are changing our application form accordingly.
We do not believe in instituting onerous gatekeeping and surveillance/monitoring procedures as so often employed by white-controlled charities and social services agencies. Such measures would be necessary in order to fully assess all parent-written applications from now on. The only just way to ensure that funds go directly to autistic people of color’s own, individual needs as defined by themselves, is to institute a complete ban on parents, caregivers, or other family members of autistic people applying for money on the basis of having an autistic family member.
We have provided a Q&A to help our community members and the public better understand the new policy.
We also receive many inquiries from parents or caregivers of autistic children who’d like to apply for help with their child. Sometimes, we do approve applications sent by parents/caregivers on behalf of autistic people of color. Please note this important information if you are a parent/caregiver:
- Our fund gives money to be used for the autistic person of color, no matter who helps with the application. We strongly prefer applications that emphasize the autistic person’s individual wants, needs, desires, preferences, choices, and interests. For example, we’d love to know if your child wants help with math tutoring, is interested in art, wants to learn a sport, or loves bouncing on trampolines.
- We sometimes approve applications for help for a child’s therapy, but only if this is therapy that the child actually wants. We never approve applications to pay for ABA because our community widely understands ABA to be abusive and unhelpful.
- If you are applying for help with things affecting your whole family (e.g. rent, groceries, utility bills), we will still consider this application, since children rely on their parents to take care of necessities like rent and bills.
- If you have more than one autistic child in your family, and you are applying for household help (e.g. rent, bills, etc.), we will consider your children as part of a single application for the family.
- If you are applying for help for yourself as a parent/caregiver, you will not be eligible. For example, if you are looking for funds to give yourself a respite day from childcare, this would not be an eligible request. On the other hand, if you are looking for funds so your autistic child can have a weekend respite from family, then this would be an eligible request.
If you are in a crisis right now, and need a shorter application, you can send us an emergency request. Crisis usually means that you are currently in danger of losing housing, health care, or food, or that you are in a dangerous or abusive situation.
Please send questions or requests for alternative formats to [email protected] – we may be delayed in responding but will do our best to reply as soon as we can.
We need donations more than ever as we receive record-breaking numbers of applications from community members who need help.