News Three projects earn Arc Tank awards totaling $200K

Providers’ Council member Arc of South Norfolk’s Autism Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) was one of three projects that received funding during Northeast Arc’s Arc Tank 2.0 competition on Nov. 27 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

In all, four Council members were among the seven semifinalists vying for up to $200,000 in funding for projects that will help improve the lives of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

The winners, selected by judges after hearing pitches from all seven semifinalists, included:

  • Autism Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) – $40,000: ALEC is a program that offers specialized trainings to first responders. The program increases communication between parents within the community and first responders, increasing their ability to interact effectively with individuals with autism. The funds will help expand the program beyond the five states in which it is currently used. ALEC is already a mandatory training in Massachusetts at the recruit level. “Everybody recognizes the need for this program,” said judge Marylou Sudders, Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary, in announcing the award.
  • Stronger Communities Through Open and Organized Transportation (SCOOT) – $70,000: SCOOT is a mobile app developed by New Star of Chicago Heights, Ill., that connects individuals with I/DD to drivers who are direct service professionals or others experienced in caring for persons with disabilities. It will expand transportation options for individuals with I/DD. Drivers will use their own vehicles, provide the service separate from their employment and may or may not take payment.
  • Virtual Reality Functional Communication Activities (VR-FCA) and Training Seminars, $90,000: The program developed by Interactive Media Institute of San Diego, combines immersive training technology with a proven intervention, making services that promote social integration and self-advocacy in children and adolescents accessible to families and clinicians. The therapy or training session can be delivered at home on a mobile phone, VR headset or other device. A pilot project helped children with autism navigate an airport. Other sessions in the works include a playground, public safety and could be expanded to restaurants and other places that involve social interaction.

Three other Council member organizations that presented projects to the judges were WORK Inc., which was seeking funding for a feasibility study required to determine if a Pay for Success (PFS) Model can attract investors and government support; May Institute, which was seeking funding to expand on a program to establish Autism Spectrum Support Emergency Response Teams (ASSERT); and HMEA, whose project would leverage a multi-provider electronic information system to create a model to monitor health risk, prompt early access of medical services and communicate timely, relevant information between health care and community-based providers to improve overall care.

This was the second year of the Arc Tank, which was started by Northeast Arc in 2017 and funded through the organization’s Changing Lives Fund, which was established with a $1 million donation by philanthropist Steven P. Rosenthal.

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