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About Us

About Els for Autism Foundation

Ben and Samantha Els

Els for Autism Foundation was established in 2009 by Liezl Els, Ernie Els, and Marvin R. Shanken. The Els’ son, Ben, is impacted by autism spectrum disorder, which affects 1 in 36 children in the U.S. The Foundation offers innovative, evidence-based programs for families and individuals across the lifespan in three primary impact areas: Early Intervention & Educational Services, Recreation Services, and Adult Services. Els for Autism Foundation serves families around the world, offering virtual services and in-person programs and services at The Els Center of Excellence® campus in Jupiter, Florida.

About The Els Center of Excellence

Located in Jupiter, Florida, The Els Center of Excellence is a world-class, 26-acre campus that is home to two separate nonprofit organizations: The Els for Autism Foundation and The Learning Academy: A tuition-free, nonprofit, Palm Beach County public charter school serving students ages 3 – 21.

Els Center of Excellence

The two non-profits co-exist on campus, sharing facilities such as a 300-seat auditorium, meeting rooms, and spaces to conduct therapy sessions, a sensory arts garden, a golf course practice facility, two playgrounds, and an outdoor basketball/tennis play court. Having these essential components on one campus is not only a game-changer for the local autism community but makes the campus the perfect hub for a variety of global outreach activities.

A capital campaign continues to secure funding to add a Recreation Complex and a Medical & Research Services Facility.  Once the campus is completed, the impact will be magnified!

Learn more about The Els Center of Excellence Campus



Non Profit Chamber AI

Els For Autism Foundation

The Nonprofit of The Year award is given to an organization whose strategic vision, passion and perseverance have led to extraordinary outcomes for the community it serves.  Recipients of this award generally utilize new approaches in overcoming obstacles to achieve its mission.



2024 Platinum Transparency Profile

Els for Autism earned the 2024 Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar through Candid, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. This is the highest rating level of transparency available.

A Platinum Transparency Seal indicates that a nonprofit has provided key organizational, leadership, and financial information in its nonprofit profile. By providing current information, we allow potential donors and funders to make educated decisions about the work we do transforming lives each day.