December 11, 2014 09:00 ET

iCapital's "#Givealatte" Crowdfunding Campaign Bulldozes Goal to Fund Vital Programs for Teens and Adults with Autism

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 11, 2014) -

Editors Note: There is a video associated with this press release.

The ask is simple - give up your morning latte and donate it to 16 year old Anthony's campaign for Autism Ontario. The result has been a surge of support for this sweet, but gutsy, Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

Leveraging social media and word of mouth, the campaign was able to hit its first humble funding goal of $2,500 in less than three hours. By the end of the first week, donations doubled to $5,000. As the campaign goes in to the holiday stretch, the aim is to hit a goal of $10,000, which will be matched by a donation from small business lender, iCapital. The scholarships and programs offered via Autism Ontario are valued at $500 a piece, so the potential for a cumulative donation of $20,000 could mean 40 teens and adults with autism can benefit from help with life skills, one-on-one learning, and developing personal interests.

Inspired by Anthony, the 16-year-old nephew of Diane Capobianco of iCapital, the campaign focuses on helping teens and adults with autism. Although there are plenty of programs for children with ASD, there is a major gap in offerings beyond school age. And due to the way funding is set up in Ontario, there is also a lot less money available once they turn 18, which makes a huge difference to families that are already financially tapped out from the extra costs of raising a child with autism.

"Available programs decrease the older a child gets," says Anthony's mother Tina. "A lot of kids adapt better and are able to socialize, so they don't need special programs to teach them that. In our case, it's gotten harder to get Anthony to participate, and at 16, I think he should be able to choose his extra curriculars, just like his brother does. The programs that the #givealatte campaign supports will allow individuals to have access to opportunities to develop skills that will enhance their daily life, such as social skills."

For people on the spectrum, higher education can pose significant financial issues. The funding will also help young adults with autism attend college and university.

"Because of their social skills, they have trouble getting summer jobs," says Margaret Spoelstra, Executive Director of Autism Ontario. "So raising funds for tuition, books, laptops and transportation becomes a huge challenge. Plus, parents are often not in a financial position to help. These scholarships can make such a difference."

A $500 scholarship or program may not sound like a lot, but it can make a real impact on a family that's already struggling to make ends meet.

"We've received so many letters that show us what we're doing is worthwhile," says Spoelstra. "The scholarships have helped with tuition, they've allowed people start up their own businesses, and they've ensured families can afford activities and care for their grown children. It's so encouraging to people who find doors closed at every turn."

The #givealatte campaign is about raising funds, but it's also about boosting awareness. People's knowledge about children with autism is great, thanks to the efforts of a number of wonderful organizations. But fewer people know about what life is like for young people leaving the school system and entering adulthood. So learn more, talk to your friends, and spread the word on social media. Encourage people to #givealatte. You'll be giving more than you know.

For more information about the Give a Latte campaign: igg.me/at/givealatte

About iCapital

iCapital is the best small business loan alternative in Canada. The "i" stands for "intelligent" = and it really is the smartest and easiest way for entrepreneurs to get access to the money they need. The funds are repaid over time through a small percentage of daily credit and debit card sales. There is no interest, no payment due dates and no restrictions on how the funds are used - it can go to anything from purchasing equipment and advertising to buying out a partner, expanding, and solving cash flow challenges.

To show their gratitude, iCapital makes yearly donations to help make their community a better place. They proudly support World Vision, local groups like the Warren Park kids' hockey league - and have now partnered with Autism Ontario to help fund scholarships and programs for teens and adults with ASD.

About Autism Ontario

Autism Ontario's mission is to ensure that each individual with ASD has the means achieve quality of life as a respected member of society. They are a province-wide source of information and referrals on autism and one of the largest collective voices representing the autism community. They focus on increasing awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by individuals with autism, providing information and education, supporting families, driving research, and advocating for programs and services.

To view the video associated with this press release, please visit the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YuRcgtmQRg

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