Apart from his music career, Aiken has been dedicated to advocating for education and for children's causes. His interest in autism issues led him, along with Diane Bubel (whose son Michael is autistic and was tutored by Aiken), to found the Bubel/Aiken Foundation, which supports the integration of children with disabilities into the life environment of their non-disabled peers. The BAF runs summer camps which reflect this mission, and also presents Able to Serve awards to support the volunteer efforts of children with physical and mental disabilities. The BAF was presented with a $500,000 grant from the US government to develop a curriculum for inclusion to be used in schools across the country. In addition State Farm has granted $1.5 million dollars to The Bubel/Aiken Foundation to help develop a primary education curriculum focused on teaching social and life skills through service to children of all levels of ability.
Bubel / Aiken Foundation
Aiken has donated his time and his voice to multiple benefit events and concerts, including the 2004 Rosalynn Carter Benefit, the America's Promise Benefit, and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (where he sung a duet with Heather Headley). He was one of the celebrity readers for the "Arthur Celebrity Audiobook (Stories for Heroes Series)," which benefits the BAF and other charities, and served as spokesperson for the series. He was also a spokesperson for the 2004 Toys for Tots drive, and is an ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House Charities® (RMHC®). In addition, Aiken donated his clothes from his American Idol March 11, 2003 "I Can't Help Myself" performance to the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.
Toys For Tots and The Ronald Mcdonald House Charities Supported by Clay Aiken
In 2004, he was appointed United States Fund for UNICEF National Ambassador, with a mission to help ensure that children everywhere are afforded a primary education. Through his work with UNICEF, he participated in the NBC4 telethon, which raised over $10 million, and recorded public service announcements in support of South Asian tsunami relief. He later recorded a video, featuring the song "Give a Little Bit," to be used as a public service announcement (PSA) to raise money for tsunami victims.
In March 2005, UNICEF sent Aiken to tsunami-stricken Banda Aceh area to raise awareness for the need to restore education quickly to the children who survived this disaster, in order to provide stability in a time of great loss. In April 2005, on behalf of UNICEF, he appeared before the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs of the Committee on Appropriations. In May 2005, UNICEF sent Aiken on another mission, to northern Uganda, to witness the plight of children called "night commuters," who flee the villages each night to sleep in streets and shelters in hopes of avoiding being kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army [LRA].
Aiken was the 2005 spokesperson for the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF drive.