Ambitious about Autism

A long-term partnership that has evolved along with the charity and the families it serves.

Pears Foundation have been true partners to Ambitious about Autism over many years, providing an excellent sounding board and being a critical friend. They have been prepared to support us at the beginning of new ventures and encouraged others to get involved too. The Foundation’s support has been vital to the growth, success and impact of Ambitious about Autism in our work for children and young people with autism.
Jolanta Lasota, Chief Executive,
Ambitious about Autism
This is one of the long-term relationships that really embodies our values. We’ve committed to each other over time and continued to refine our approach based on what we’ve learned together.
Sir Trevor Pears CMG

Partner since: 2005

Funding invested: £3.7million

  • Core: Unrestricted funding; Covid-19 Emergency Appeal
  • Project: Policy officer post; Annual lecture series; Ambitious College; Employ Autism
  • Capital: Pears National Centre for Autism Education

Pears Foundation works with groups that face barriers to society, particularly those with special needs or a disability. We support Ambitious about Autism because it combines expertise and excellence in education with policy and campaigning to create real change for young people with autism.

One in 100 people in the UK are autistic. Without understanding, acceptance and the right support at the right time, there are lifetime consequences for the quality of life for autistic children and young people and their families.

  • 56% of autistic children have been sent home from school illegally and one fifth of parents of autistic children have had to give up their job because of school exclusions.
  • Fewer than one in four young people with autism access education beyond school.
  • Autistic graduates in employment are the least likely of all disabled graduates to be employed on a permanent contract.
  • 70% of autistic children have mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Ambitious about Autism believes that every autistic child and young person has the right to be themselves and realise their ambitions and stands with autistic children, young people and their families to champion their rights, campaign for change and create opportunities.

The charity has grown from a one-room school founded by a group of parents in 1997 to a national organisation that runs two specialist schools, a specialist day college and employability programmes as well as influencing policy and campaigning for change.

As the original group of young people have navigated the challenges of moving through the education system and into further education and meaningful employment, Ambitious about Autism has evolved to meet their changing needs – and our partnership has evolved too.

Over the years we have provided project, core and capital investment alongside funding for the Centre for Research in Autism and Education at UCL Institute of Education, which Ambitious about Autism helped to establish.

In 2008 we gave capital funding to help the charity and TreeHouse school move from portacabins into a purpose-designed building, the Pears National Centre for Autism Education.

We then provided the lead grant to establish Ambitious College to help young people make a successful transition into adulthood.

Our most recent commitment is to the Employ Autism project, which aims to increase the number and calibre of paid internships available to autistic people by creating regional networks of employers and employability professionals.