Eye to Eye Receives $5 million from MacKenzie Scott for $15 Million Initiative Aimed at Supporting Neurodiverse Youth

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This article was published on PR Web on June 12th, 2023.

Eye to Eye, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the educational experience and outcomes of neurodiverse young people while engaging them and their allies in the movement for a more equitable and inclusive society, is thrilled to announce a game-changing $5 million grant from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This significant investment is a pivotal milestone within Eye to Eye’s strategic plan, “Innovate to Amplify”, as part of its ongoing $15 million fundraising campaign, aimed at expanding its impactful programs and reaching more neurodiverse young people.

Set to celebrate its 25th anniversary, marking a quarter-century of providing life-changing support and mentorship to neurodiverse students, Eye to Eye will utilize Scott’s generous gift to expand its reach and amplify its impact. In addition to expanding its existing programs, Eye to Eye is proud to announce the launch of a new scholarship program. This initiative aims to directly invest in the community by providing financial support to students who are furthest from opportunity. This will allow the organization to continue its mission of serving young individuals between the ages of 10 and 26 who identify as neurodiverse or have been identified as such. We have a strong commitment to intersectionality and we focus on prioritizing underrepresented communities, including Black and Brown neurodiverse youth who face significant barriers to opportunity. Eye to Eye will also expand its services to educators and education leaders by equipping them with the tools and knowledge to effectively serve their neurodiverse students. Furthermore, Eye to Eye actively engages allies and advocates crucial in supporting and championing neurodiverse students, peers, friends, and family members. By strategically utilizing this generous gift, Eye to Eye will expand its programs and initiatives to create a more inclusive and equitable world for all.

“As Eye to Eye embarks on its next chapter, fueled by MacKenzie Scott’s generous investment and support from other donors, the organization remains steadfast in its commitment to amplifying the voices of neurodiverse youth, nurturing their potential, and fostering a more inclusive society,” said David Flink, CEO and Co-Founder of Eye to Eye. “Their belief in our mission has been instrumental in propelling us to where we stand today, and we are eager to expand our reach and deepen our impact, uplifting even more neurodiverse young people and shaping a future where their voices are celebrated and embraced.”

At the heart of Eye to Eye’s success is the classic after-school program, which pairs neurodiverse near-peer high school and college students with local middle school students. Through a two-year cycle of art-based, action- and reflection-driven mentoring, these dynamic relationships inspire young people to embrace their unique strengths and navigate the challenges they face.

The program’s effectiveness has been rigorously validated, including a comprehensive three-year evaluation study conducted by UCSF, alongside over half a dozen other studies. The UCSF study found statistically significant improvements for students participating in Eye to Eye’s Mentoring Program, reinforcing the transformative impact of their initiatives.

“With the recent support from MacKenzie Scott, I’m beyond excited to witness the incredible impact Eye to Eye will have on young individuals like me. Ever since I joined Eye to Eye events back in 2018, I discovered an amazing community that wholeheartedly embraces and accepts me, while helping me develop my advocacy skills,” said Maggie O’Hagan, Eye to Eye Young Adult Guiding Coalition member. “From being a Chapter Leader, a Diplomat, a Community Leader Intern, to now chairing the Professional Learning Committee as part of the YAGC, Eye to Eye has truly transformed my life. I’m grateful for the opportunities to create real change and advocate for those who learn differently, and I can’t wait to see the impact MacKenzie Scott’s support will have on countless young people, just like me.”

Eye to Eye’s commitment to supporting educators is also at the core of its mission. The Professional Learning for Educators Program equips teachers with the mindset, skills, and knowledge to effectively engage with neurodiverse learners. With customized professional learning pathways tailored to meet the strategic goals and needs of communities, this competency-based program fosters affirming, supportive, and equitable learning environments.

Furthermore, Eye to Eye is dedicated to promoting youth leadership and advocacy through their ND Alliance Clubs. These student-led clubs, established on high school and college campuses, ensure that young people are connected in community and mobilized to act for systems change through grassroots organizing and advocacy. ND Alliance Clubs embolden young individuals to drive positive transformation in their communities, actively challenging and combating the stigma often associated with neurodiversity.

“With this incredible gift from MacKenzie Scott, we are inspired to deepen our commitment to centering youth voices and amplifying their stories,” said Marcus Soutra, Co-Founder and President of Eye to Eye. “We believe their stories are powerful and deserve to be heard. With Scott’s investment we will continue to provide platforms and opportunities for neurodiverse youth to share their experiences and advocate for themselves.”

As Eye to Eye embarks on its next chapter, driven by the significant investment from MacKenzie Scott, the organization remains dedicated to actively engaging individuals and organizations through dynamic outreach activities, powerful advocacy campaigns, and impactful community events, both on the ground and online. With an unwavering commitment to ensuring that neurodiverse young people are seen, heard, and valued, Eye to Eye is poised to make a lasting impact, driving change and fostering a more inclusive society.

For media inquiries or further information, please contact: Philister Lukacevic, Director, Marketing and Communications, at plukacevic@eyetoeyenational.org.

To make a gift toward the “Innovate to Amplify” campaign, please contact: Alicia Siegel, Director of Development at asiegel@eyetoeyenational.org

About Eye to Eye:

Founded in 1998, Eye to Eye aims to improve the educational experience and outcomes of neurodiverse young people, while engaging them and their allies in the movement for a more equitable and inclusive society. By utilizing the lived experiences of our community and amplifying the voices of students, we are working towards fostering a more equitable world that embraces individuals with learning differences. http://www.eyetoeyenational.org