Washington, DC – The Arc is pleased to announce that its national employment program, The Arc@Work, has received an additional $122,000 over the next two years from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation to support its ongoing efforts to expand its partner program with Specialisterne®. The Arc@Work and Specialisterne®’s program consists of a four-week intensive training curriculum and on-the-job training designed to equip people with autism with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in entry-level IT jobs. Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation previously supported this project of The Arc with $105,000 in funding from 2015-2017.
The Arc has a partnership with Specialisterne USA®, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization established by a Danish nonprofit organization, The Specialist People Foundation, that works to create meaningful employment for people with autism and similar challenges in the technology sector. The program engages top companies with IT needs interested in hiring young adults with ASD and pairs them with chapters of The Arc that provide the four-week training course, during which participants learn the basics about programming and data management while also improving soft skills. At the end of training, participants are hired into partner organizations as developers, programmers, analysts, and administrators. Employers also receive training on supporting employees with ASD and The Arc@Work and Specialisterne® work together to provide follow-up support for program participants.
Chapters of The Arc in Philadelphia and New York were among the first to adopt the Specialisterne program in 2014, but the program has since been adopted by chapters in Tampa Bay and Washington, DC as well. The 2018-2019 grant from Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation will allow The Arc to expand this crucial program to new regions throughout the country.
“Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation is committed to empowering young people with disabilities,” said Keijiro Hora, president of the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation and CEO and President, Mitsubishi Electric US, Inc. “By continuing to support The Arc’s expansion of the
Specialisterne employment model, we hope to see increased numbers of young people with autism empowered to enter the competitive workforce and live productive lives,” continued Hora.
The program emphasizes that many young adults with ASD are qualified to work in highly skilled positions and, with employer commitment and support, they can thrive 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 but also raise 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 ongoing support,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
The Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation, based in the Washington, DC area, was established in 1991 by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and the Mitsubishi Electric U.S. companies, which produce, sell and distribute a wide range of consumer, industrial, commercial and professional electronics products. The foundation has contributed more than $15 million to organizations that are empowering young people with disabilities to lead more inclusive and productive lives.