The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles are funding autism in a novel way of health-related philanthropy by selecting individual research projects for funding, turning the team into a giant founder of research.

Driven by the “Eagles Autism Challenge,” executive director Ryan Hammond reports the funding is based on the “idea of not being transactional, and not just putting our money out there and hoping for the best.”


Autism impacts 1 in 59 children under the age of 21 and is increasing in prevalence across the United States. Part of this trend, according to Philly Mag, may have to do more with broadening diagnostic criteria and heightened awareness more than anything else. However, autism is still poorly understood.  Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, has a brother who has been diagnosed with autism.

Eagles are Different

The Eagles aren’t just giving money away for a photo op, but taking an active approach to donating. They are strategically selecting the type research that they want to fund, not just handing money over to an institution and letting them do whatever they want.

A Miniature NIH

In this way, a professional football NFL team becomes like a research sponsor, which could become a fascinating trend if it continues.  What if other NFL, and for that matter, NBA and MLB teams, start doing the same? What about professional soccer teams in Europe?

Eagles Autism Challenge

The Philadelphia Eagles Autism Challenge has raised considerable funds for autism, and that number may increase over time with success.  See their website and think about the possibilities if other teams sign up a similar approach.  For those interested, the Philadelphia Eagles Autism Challenge Executive Director is Ryan Hammond.

Source: Philadelphia Magazine

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