Charles Lafitte Foundation Supports University of Washington’s DATA Project

The Charles Lafitte Foundation, a philanthropic organization run by Jeffrey Citron, and his wife, Suzanne, recently donated $100,000 to Project DATA, a program designed to meet the needs of autistic preschoolers and toddlers.  DATA (Developmentally Appropriate Treatment for Autism) is part of the Experimental Education Unit at the University of Washington (EEU), an inclusive early childhood center that educates children with and without disabilities.

“Programs like DATA are sorely needed, and I hope that our grant will help raise awareness about the requirements of autistic children and their families, “ said Jeffrey Citron, co-founder and board member, Charles Lafitte Foundation.  “I am happy that this contribution will affect positive change for the students involved in DATA and I hope that others will help in the growing effort to address autism.”

The generous grant from The Charles Lafitte Foundation, to be distributed in $25,000 increments over the next four years, will be used specifically to finance the toddler program that DATA is currently piloting.  Known as “Baby” DATA, the toddler project is similarly comprehensive, offering assistance to families, as well as an integrated educational experience for younger autistic children.  The program incorporates opportunities for student interaction, appropriate curriculum, and technical and social support for families. Children involved in “Baby” DATA receive intensive support and attention, including six hours a week of instructional time at the center, and an additional two hours per week at home.


“The gift from The Charles Lafitte Foundation will enable us to cement our services, and allow us to continue with efforts to improve education for autistic children,” said Dr. Ilene Schwartz, director, Project DATA.   “Running the time intensive programs critical to helping autistic children is extremely expensive, and fundraising is always a challenge.  Before we received the Citrons’ contribution, we were unsure about the future of the program. Now, we can definitely move ahead.”

In addition to the donation, The Charles Lafitte Foundation also helped the Experimental Education Unit run its first annual auction to raise funds for the school endowment.  Jennifer Vertetis, president of the Charles Lafitte Foundation and member of the EEU board, assisted in organizing the event.  Held May 18, the auction raised over $280,000 for the EEU programs.

Recent estimates show approximately one of every five hundred children are being diagnosed with autism, reflecting a significant increase in frequency that makes programs like DATA and “Baby” DATA even more critically necessary.  In addition to providing services to the children, the DATA project also prioritizes research into the area, as well as training educators to work with autistic children.

About The Charles Lafitte Foundation:

The Charles Lafitte Foundation is a private philanthropic organization founded by Suzanne and Jeffrey Citron.   A multifaceted, multi-purposed organization comprised of four distinct project areas, CLF strives to affect innovative change in the areas of education, children’s advocacy, medical research and the arts.  Contributions range from single donations to on-going project funding and volunteer work.  Grant proposals may be submitted via the organization’s web site,  Preference is given to proposals and programs that foster significant change for many individuals.

About Jeffrey Citron:

Jeffrey Citron is a technology pioneer and visionary who transformed the financial services industry. As Chairman and CEO of Vonage, Mr. Citron aims to redefine yet another industry — telecommunications.

Some of the more revolutionary financial services developments over the past decade were spearheaded by Mr. Citron. In 1995, Mr. Citron founded The Island ECN, a computerized trading system designed to eliminate the problems associated with order execution. The Island ECN matched over 53 billion shares in 2000, accounting for a dollar value of over $ 3 trillion. Today, it is the largest global financial exchange, responsible for one in four NASDAQ trades.

Following on the success of The Island ECN, Mr. Citron founded and became the Chairman and CEO of Datek Online Holdings Corp. as Datek transitioned into the online brokerage industry. Under his leadership, Datek has grown to become the fourth largest online brokerage in the US, according to Chase H&Q. Currently, Datek is one of the most recognized brands in industry and it has more than 800,000 funded customer accounts. Mr. Citron departed Datek in 1999 and, recognizing a similar opportunity, founded Vonage.

Apart from his entrepreneurial activities, Mr. Citron is continually pursuing philanthropic initiatives. He currently serves on the board of the Montclair Art Museum and through his family foundation routinely funds medical research, supports the Arts and dedicates his time and resources to children’s charities.


For more information, contact:
Ruder Finn

Jennifer Vertetis
Charles Lafitte Foundation
Contact Jennifer here


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