Rutgers University broke ground Monday on a facility that will house the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services, which provides employment, vocational training and other services to people with autism.
The center, located on the Douglass Campus of Rutgers University-New Brunswick, is the first of its kind at a higher education institution in the United States. The new building, expected to open in 2020, will allow the center to more than double its capacity from 12 to 30 participants. The project, estimated to cost $9.5 million, is financed by philanthropic funds.
“This center will have a lasting impact on the lives of adults with autism in New Jersey and across the country,” Rutgers President Robert Barchi said at the groundbreaking event.
RCAAS, established in 2016, serves adults with autism by providing paid employment and integration into the Rutgers community. The new facility will include vocational and life skills teaching areas, high-tech meeting rooms and amenities intended to provide a welcoming environment for program participants and other members of the surrounding community, including Rutgers students, faculty and staff.
Mel Karmazin, the former chief executive officer of Sirius XM Radio, was a key leader in fundraising for the project along with his daughter Dina Karmazin Elkins, executive director of the Mel Karmazin Foundation. Dina Karmazin Elkins’ son, Hunter, was diagnosed with autism at age two, and the Karmazin Foundation has been active in autism causes.