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Tucker Foundation
6154 South Fairbanks Hall
Hanover, NH
Phone: (603) 646-3350
Fax: (603) 646-2645
Email: Tucker.Foundation@Dartmouth.EDU

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Tucker Student Spotlight

Eliza Rockefeller '17

Eliza Rockefeller
Assistant for Multi-Faith Programs

Major: Religion Major and Studio Art Minor

Hometown: New York City, NY

Read the full interview


Program Description

ASPIREASPIRE is dedicated to providing resources and support for individuals on the autism spectrum. We are committed to advocating for autism research, to increasing public awareness, and to providing services within the Upper Valley for children with autism and their families. It is our goal to improve the lives of those affected by autism and to give these special people a reason to hope... to dream... to aspire.  There are three weekly activities: playgroup, swim group, and STEPS, a social program for older kids on the spectrum.

Playgroup: Saturdays, 12:30PM-3:30PM (travel time included)

Playgroup is ASPIRE's oldest and largest program.  We travel to the Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School, where we lead children with autism through a number of fun and engaging activities.  These include story time, art project, snack time, and of course, lots of free play time!  Each student volunteer is responsible for playing and interacting with one child, and helps this child through the art project and other tasks.  Playgroup is fun for kids and volunteers alike, and provides a unique opportunity for children with autism to develop social and communication skills.  We also typically include a trip to the Montshire Museum of Science each term!

Swim Group: Fridays, 4:00PM-6:00PM (travel time included)

ASPIRE's swim group was created in 2010 with the goal of providing autistic children with a fun, new outlet for their energy, and with opportunities to gain experience with swimming and social interaction.  Every Friday at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center, volunteers work one-on-one with autistic children to develop swimming skills and to have fun.  A swim instructor helps kids with various skills, such as kicking and blowing bubbles.  The UVAC facility also includes a lazy river and water slide, which the volunteers love almost as much as the kids!  In the years following swim group's creation, all of the children have made amazing progress thanks to help of our volunteers. We look forward to seeing swim group continue to thrive!

Note: There is no required swim test to volunteer for ASPIRE's swim group!  Even the deepest part of the pool is shallow enough that all volunteers can easily stand on the bottom.

STEPS: Saturdays, 1:00PM-2:45PM (on campus)

First conceived in 2011, STEPS is ASPIRE's newest group and is targeted towards higher-function, slightly older children on the autism spectrum. STEPS is modeled after social thinking groups, which are more focused and structured than the playgroup setup, but still allow the kids (and volunteers!) to have a lot of fun.  The theme for each day is based on a specific skill that the kids will work on.  Since STEPS participants are a bit older, field trips (lunch or gelato) and higher-level activities (baking or playing organized sports) are often included. STEPS typically meets in Brace Commons in the East Wheelock cluster, and also joins the with playgroup once a term for the trip to the Montshire Museum of Science!


Time Commitment

  • A mandatory training session at the beginning of your first term volunteering with ASPIRE
  • Requires a once per week, Friday or Saturday afternoon commitment
  • An additional meeting will be held each week for discussion, reflection, and event planning


  • If eligible, mentors are required to become driver approved
  • We will be driving Tucker vehicles to the Hampshire Cooperative Nursery School and the Upper Valley Aquatics Center, both of which are located about 10 minutes away from campus

For More Information

- Blitz ASPIRE

- Call 603-646-3350

- Stop by the Tucker Foundation, South Fairbanks Hall

Last Updated: 2/3/15