The spirit of hope and renewal of a new year has been made even more promising by a recent announcement that ASHA will as much as double its annual support of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation. This gift is intended to accelerate the research and scholarly commitment of both organizations to the discipline of communication sciences and disorders.
ASHA has enjoyed a strong collaboration with the ASHFoundation since the foundation's creation 66 years ago and, for the last two decades, has offered ongoing support through a generous annual contribution. With the further evolution of the discipline, the field's pressing priorities, a growing membership, and current research needs and opportunities, the ASHA Board of Directors recognized that increased support of the ASHFoundation would enhance current successes and future growth.
ASHA and the ASHFoundation believe this important resolution will benefit members for years to come, and complements the continuing strategy of raising funds from individuals, corporations and other organizations.
One of ASHA's core organizational values is to be research-based, and its mission statement identifies "advancing communication science" as a critical path to empower members. ASHA President Patty Prelock comments, "I can't think of a better way to empower our workforce and our new generation of speech and hearing scientists and clinical practice researchers than to invest in our members through increased support to ASHFoundation programs."
The ASHFoundation annually funds six research grant programs, including four for faculty-researchers and two for students; five scholarship programs (for research and clinical doctoral students; master's, international, and minority students; and students with disabilities); and three clinical recognition programs. In addition, the ASHFoundation serves as a catalyst for change with newly emerging field priorities related to its mission. Examples of these focused initiatives in past years include technology developments, treatment efficacy, research mentorship and research providing evidence for practice.
"The impact of ASHFoundation research grant funding is particularly compelling," ASHFoundation President Jon Miller says. "ASHFoundation-funded investigators have applied for additional grants—achieving a subsequent funding rate of 92 percent—according to a recent survey, particularly relevant in times of tight economic funding." ASHFoundation scholarships have helped students uncertain about finances to complete graduate studies and increased graduate program affordability for students.
ASHA's contribution to the work of the ASHFoundation is relevant to several objectives in the association's strategic pathway to excellence, Prelock emphasizes, noting that "accessibility and use of research" objectives tie to the grant programs, and "increasing the number of students and diversity of membership" align with the scholarship programs.
The need for evidence-based research and contributions to new knowledge is more critical than ever, particularly in light of health care reform and accountable care, value-based purchasing, and treatment outcomes. A motivator for the increase in association support, Prelock explains, is so ASHA's contribution to the ASHFoundation keeps pace with member growth, the need for research dollars in challenged economic times and the cost of graduate education.
As Prelock underscores, "ASHA investment in the research agenda and preparation of a highly qualified workforce is crucial if we as a field hope to achieve our vision." Miller adds, "The ASHFoundation could be giving many more grants and scholarships if we had the dollars to do so. This collaboration with ASHA will go a long way to drawing us closer to our goal, and our entire ASHFoundation community is grateful for this partnership."