Washington, DC – The Arc is pleased to announce that it has received $105,000 over three years from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation to support its Specialisterne Replication project. The Specialisterne program creates inclusive employment opportunities for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including Asperger’s Syndrome, in the information technology (IT) field.
The Arc has a partnership with Specialisterne USA, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established by The Specialist People Foundation, a Danish nonprofit organization that works to create meaningful employment for people with autism and similar challenges by building relationships with technology companies that need employees whose skill sets match the characteristics of many people on the autism spectrum. The program engages top companies with IT needs interested in hiring youth with ASD and pairs them with chapters of The Arc that provide short-term intensive training and on-the-job support for youth with ASD. At the end of training, companies may hire program participants as developers, programmers, analysts, and administrators. Employers also receive training on supporting employees with ASD. Chapters of The Arc in Philadelphia and New York, working in collaboration with Specialisterne USA, began replicating the Specialisterne program in 2014. The 2015-2016 grant will allow The Arc to expand this crucial program to the Washington, DC area.
The program emphasizes that many youth with ASD are qualified to work in highly skilled positions, and with employer commitment and support they can be successful in community-based jobs of their choosing.
“There are many young people with ASD that possess the skills that are in high demand in the tech industry. This program plays matchmaker, and through our chapter network, we can not only connect a population we serve with employment in the community, we are raising awareness in a major industry about what people with disabilities can do. It’s an exciting initiative and we are thrilled to have the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation’s support,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation has released $1,539,600 in new and continuing grants, as part of its national M>PWR Initiative designed to empower youth and young people with disabilities to lead productive lives through increased employment.