Why We Are Doing This
It is completely unacceptable that our autistic community is experiencing an over 80% unemployment and underemployment rate. As passionate advocates who have either been diagnosed with autism ourselves or have family members affected with autism, we understand that with the right resources, training, coaching, and environment that individuals with autism can thrive in the workforce.
By founding Science Prep Academy, we are moving one step closer towards slashing the 80% unemployment and underemployment, and in turn creating highly qualified, skilled, and eager to work autistic employees (Autism Workforce) to fill job vacancies in the tech industry.
What Is Science Prep Academy Going to Do?
Despite our population becoming more autistic by the year, there are simply not enough quality schools that are designed towards training adults with autism in the real-world career skills. As a result, too many adults with autism are either unemployed or working in menial jobs below their skill levels. By contributing towards our campaign, you are contributing to the successful expansion of Science Prep Academy, the world’s first STEM private school for students with Autism. By contributing towards our campaign, you are joining a movement to support kids with Autism to become happy and self-sufficient adults that can have the skills to pay the bills.
About This Project
We are the first private STEM middle & high school specifically designed for students on the autism spectrum. Watch our recent PBS News Report and read our story to learn how Science Prep Academy is working to combat unemployment and underemployment rates among people with autism.
Tax-deductible donations made to our Crowdrise campaign, as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, will help support us triple our enrollment and double our number of staff for the 2018-2019 school year.
Thank you for joining this movement - for your contribution, for sharing this campaign with others, and for standing together with us, so that students with Autism can transition into a STEM career. Our goal is to create a sustainable nonprofit organization with one year of operating reserves, so we'll continue to raise our goal as the campaign continues. For resources, guidance, or more information, please visit: http://www.scienceprepacademy.com
Brief Background on Autism
What is Autism?
Autism is a complex developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood. It affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. People on the autism spectrum also display a tendency towards restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities. In 1994, autism was redefined as being a wide spectrum of conditions ranging from non-verbal and more significant impairment, to Asperger's Syndrome, which is considered to be a more "high functioning" version of autism. Some notable figures who are or are speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome are Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Burton, Temple Grandin, and Bill Gates.
In the United States today, there are over 4 million individuals with autism: roughly 3 million being children and 1 million being adults.
Since 2002, autism prevalence has increased by 6-15% year over year and is deemed as one of the fastest growing developmental disorders in the United States.
Out of all the adults on the autism spectrum, over 80% of them are either unemployed or underemployed.
66% of all high school graduates both do not continue their education or obtain a job within 2 years after their high school graduation.
1 out of every 59 children born in the United States is born with a form of autism.
Autism is 5 times more prevalent in boys than it is in girls.
Autism in the Workforce
Research has shown that typical autistic characteristics such as attention to detail, affinity for repetitive tasks, and introversion are all traits that lend themselves to becoming a successful employee within the tech industry. For this reason, some researchers have dubbed autism the “Geek Syndrome”. With the $50k+ average annual salary for entry-level, full-time web developers, tech is an attractive industry to pursue careers in.
Over the last decade, companies such as Microsoft and SAP have implemented autism hiring initiatives (Autism at Work). This was done not to combat autistic unemployment, but because they have seen that adults with autism can be exceptional employees and drive innovation when provided the right structure, mentorship, and on-boarding.
Positive Characteristics of Autistic Employees in the Workforce
Affinity for repetitive tasks
Meticulous attention to detail
Incredibly dedicated employees (rarely late, miss work, etc.)
Operate well in structured environments
The principles behind Science Prep Academy:
Every aspect of Science Prep Academy is designed to best fit the needs of learners on the autism spectrum. With small class sizes, on-site behavioral, occupational, and a special emphasis on interpersonal communication and collaboration support, we are able to best set our students up for success in the real world.
Innovative Instruction Programs
Often times the greatest barrier for the Autism Workforce is not knowledge or skill proficiency, but deficiencies in social skills, such as making eye contact or reading social cues. To best ensure that our students can succeed in the workplace we place a special emphasis on social skill building. This also encourages students to build new friendships among their peers and build a network that will stick with them long after they graduate.
Extracurricular Activities & Career and College Preparation
Our students are exposed to the greater Autism Workforce ecosystem. We set our students up with the tools they need to succeed in a world that is not necessarily built for them. The real world can be daunting for an individual with autism so we work with our students to ensure that they are prepared for the real-world in all fronts from personal financial management to arriving to work prepared and on-time. This is done by field trips to local Tech companies, college & universities in addition to bringing mentors into the classroom from Intel and local tech companies.
By graduation, our students will be set up with the tools they need to not only stay financially self-sufficient but able to grow into a long-term career where they can flourish. We will help our students find the employment opportunities best suited for them through an on-site career counseling, corporate partnerships, career fairs and more. We also will help them build their resumes and practice for interviews