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Crypto donors to star-studded benefit raise $440K for autism awareness

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On April 30, a virtual benefit co-hosted by American TV star Jimmy Kimmel and NASA engineer-turned-YouTuber Mark Rober raised over $3 million in donations to support NEXT for AUTISM, a charity dedicated to addressing the needs of people with autism and their families across the United States. 

The interactive livestream featured a wide range of well-known entertainers, comedians, musicians, and athletes, among them Jon Stewart, Conan O’Brien, Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and Charlize Theron.

The virtual benefit was also brought a step forward into the digital currency era, with crypto lender Nexo and The Giving Block offering a payment channel for viewers to donate to the charity using a wide range of crypto assets. Alongside Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), donations in Dai (DAI), The Graph (GRT), Litecoin (LTC) , Storj (STORJ), Zcash (ZEC), 0x (ZRX) and other altcoins were supported.

Now that the livestream has ended, Nexo has left open its crypto donations portal for viewers to catch up and contribute their funds to the charity.  The company told Cointelegraph that it was still gathering data from ongoing contributions from crypto contributors and would release its final tally soon. A representative from The Giving Block meanwhile provided the organization’s own figures for crypto raised by Color The Spectrum:

“The event raised over $440,000 in crypto donations from about 100 donors. In general, the crypto community continues to be incredibly generous, especially during bull markets. We’re seeing millions of dollars donated on a monthly basis.”

While the event was successful in engaging high-profile stars and raising funds, a large section of the autism community has voiced criticism of multiple aspects of the Color The Spectrum initiative. In one open letter signed by a group of autism activists, they pointed to their concerns about the recipient charity, NEXT for AUTISM, highlighting its failure to communicate directly with autistic-led organizations. There has also been a high level of dissent regarding NEXT’s controversial contribution of funds to the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain. The latter is an organization that researches the causes of and “cures” for autism, an approach that the autistic community has condemned as eugenicist and unacceptable.

Mark Rober has engaged with the aforementioned open letter and its criticisms, leading to a dialogue that the authors have characterized as being in good faith. Other members of the community have emphasized that they feel their concerns have not been adequately responded to by many of the participants in the event.  In parallel, autism activitsts have also circulated their own hashtag #FinanceTheSpectrum, which aims to highlight NEXT’s failure to address the persistent under- and unemployment that autistic people continue to struggle with.

The Giving Block is a major crypto donations platform that has partnered with various crypto industry actors in the past. Last month, the organization launched an initiative called the “Crypto Giving Pledge,” which encourages crypto investors to pledge at least 1% of their holdings to charities each year.

In The Giving Block’s estimation, if every participant in the crypto market donated 1% of their holdings to charities, they could collectively raise $20 billion, based on the market capitalization of digital assets in late April, the time of the initiative’s launch.