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Commonwealth Autism Accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute

Commonwealth Autism recently received the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing their rigorous accreditation program. Commonwealth Autism voluntarily opened itself to analysis by a peer review team over the last 18 months that examined the organization’s compliance with the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. These standards cover areas such as: Mission, Strategy and Evaluation; Leadership: Board, Staff, and Volunteers; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Finance and Operations; Resource Development; and Public Awareness, Engagement, and Advocacy.

The Standards for Excellence Institute evaluates fundamental values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability, all of which are inherently important in the nonprofit world. Commonwealth Autism’s programs and services, management, fundraising and financial practices were subjected to in-depth examination prior to earning accreditation.

John Toscano, President and CEO of Commonwealth Autism shares, “We are very proud of the work our organization has done over the last two decades but we are also very proud to have done it utilizing methods recognized as best practice in the world of nonprofit organizations.”

“We are also excited to be one of about six organizations in the Richmond region recognized by the Standards for Excellence Institute and the first in the region to achieve full accreditation. Pursuit of this accreditation was a team effort on behalf of our entire staff,” says Doug Garrou, president of Commonwealth Autism’s Board of Directors.

The Standards for Excellence Institute is committed to raising the level of principled and responsible practices within the nonprofit sector. The Institute offers a model for organizations to implement in their operating plans so they can gain a deeper understanding of their effectiveness, improve their decision-making and minimize risks. Nonprofits that adhere to the principles and practices of strong nonprofit management and governance can become formally accredited under the Standards for Excellence® program.

A recent university study of 102 nonprofit organizations that have received the Standards for Excellence accreditation compared with peer organizations of similar size and industry examined the impact of becoming accredited. Significant findings found that the process is associated with an increase in direct public support.

The Standards for Excellence program provides a structured approach to improved operations and quality management, delivering years of benchmarking and best practices to organizations’ leadership, and a “Good Housekeeping”-type seal of approval to outside stakeholders, indicating that the organization is performing as promised after comprehensive evaluation by practitioners and industry experts. In addition to this accreditation, Commonwealth Autism is recognized as an Accredited Charity with the Richmond Better Business Bureau and holds accreditation from the Code of Ethics for Behavioral Organizations (COEBO).

About Commonwealth Autism — Commonwealth Autism was established in 1995 by a visionary group of parents who recognized significant gaps in Virginia for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Commonwealth Autism’s mission is to build the capacity of the autism and developmental disability service provider network through leadership, innovation, example, and collaboration. Commonwealth Autism utilizes partnerships and collaborative efforts to maintain their standing as a leader in autism awareness, education, and services. www.autismva.org

About the Standards for Excellence Institute — The Standards for Excellence originated as a special initiative of Maryland Nonprofits in 1998 and has since expanded into a national program to help nonprofit organizations achieve the highest benchmarks of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management and operations. The program has been formally adopted by ten state, regional and national affiliate organizations. Since its inception, the program has accredited or recognized over 200 individual nonprofit organizations that completed a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate adherence to the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector. www.standardsforexcellenceinstitute.org.

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