In response to the critical need for high-quality lifelong programming for individuals with autism, Spectrum360 has consistently expanded. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the incidence rate of autism in New Jersey remains the highest in the nation, increasing from 1 in 45 in 2015 to 1 in 41 in 2016. This far exceeds the national rate of 1 in 68. While considered a childhood disorder, the reality is that individuals with autism live a normal lifespan – the majority of which is spent as an adult. Each year, it is estimated that more than 50,000 children on the autism spectrum will reach adulthood, meaning that when they reach the age of 21 their entitlement to an appropriate educational program will end, and publicly-supported programs will be more limited.
While the need for services is on the rise, the public funding available for services has become more restrictive and increasingly unpredictable The recent passage of business code N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-18 places a disproportionate burden on private special education schools, making it harder to provide the services and supports children with more complex disabilities need. Despite growing awareness of the challenges faced by adults with autism, this population continues to be largely underserved. There is a shortage of programs due to a lack of funding to open and sustain them. Federal and state funding is minimal and current funding levels are not adequate to cover program costs. For capital expansion, there are no public funds available for start-up costs, depreciation cannot be used to recoup funds, and it is very difficult to secure a mortgage.
We see our commitment to providing options across a lifetime as a moral imperative. In the spirit of that commitment, and with consideration given to the changing funding landscape around students and adults with disabilities, the Spectrum360 Board of Directors voted to start an endowment. We see this as a critical step to ensuring the sustainability of our programs over time and to fulfill our promise to provide options across a lifetime.
The endowment will be a mechanism to provide a stable and predictable source of funding for the organization’s initiatives not covered by tuition and state/federal funding. Only the interest from the fund can be spent, not the principal, which anchors the endowment. Usually, only a portion of the interest or earnings is spent on an annual basis in order to assure that the original funds will grow over time. A committee has been established to oversee the endowment funds, investing the money in stocks, bonds, and other instruments.
You can make an investment in Spectrum360’s future by making a gift to the Spectrum360 endowment. Gifts made to the endowment are invested with the promise to spend the interest only. This means that each donation to the endowment will be used to ensure the stability of Spectrum360 and providing stable funding for years to come. With a large enough (and successful enough) endowment, the interest alone could sustain much of our programming. To learn more about Spectrum360’s endowment or to make a gift, please contact the Development Department at 973.509.3050 x237.