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The David C. Copley Foundation Expands Job Prospects For Those With Autism In San Diego Tech Market
The Grant Provides Funding for The National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR) Tech Program's Industry Outreach Efforts Aimed at Creating New Internships and Employment Opportunities for Their Graduates
"Unemployment for those with autism is as high as 85%, yetindividuals on the autism spectrum have skills well suited for the technology field," noted Juan Leon, NFARTECH co-founder and Stanford Business School Alumni. "High intelligence, attention to detail, and logical thinking can make them exceptional employees for tech companies."
Created in 2015, San Diego-based NFAR TECH -- a groundbreaking comprehensive training program that prepares young adults with autism for meaningful employment in the high-tech industry -- uniquely integrates work expectations and social skill development into a technical skills curriculum and provides critical experience that can help students with autism be successful when they enter the job market.
Acknowledging that this is a population that is currently and historically overlooked and unemployed, the David C. Copley Foundation has awarded NFAR TECH with a $25,000 grant earmarked specifically for outreach to San Diego businesses with the goal of creating new opportunities that will benefit both program graduates and the local tech industry.
NFAR TECH has a proven track record of training individuals with autism in the technical and social skills necessary for entry level positions in software testing, with 81% of graduates finding employment. But it has also been limited by an incomplete understanding among IT companies of the benefits of hiring individuals with autism.
"While some may focus on their disabilities, we really want to focus on our students' abilities," added Leon. "We know people on the spectrum have skills well suited for the technology field, they just need the training, the encouragement, and more importantly, the opportunity, to shine. The Copley Foundation grant is greatly appreciated as building awareness and understanding among industry leaders is critical if we are to make a lasting difference in the lives of those on the autism spectrum."
Autism now affects 1 in every 59 children in the U.S. andin San Diego, approximately 600 – 800 students with autism are transitioning from high school to the community each year and are looking for that next step. NFAR TECH is specifically designed to address the employment barriers by helping to build theconfidence and employment skills of autistic individuals so they can enter the workforce and become successful, independent members of society.
With this Copley grant, NFAR TECH will be able to expand their efforts to develop new industry partners and help existing partners feel prepared and supported in their efforts to integrate high functioning (HFA) young adults with autism into their workplace. By further building strong partnerships with San Diego-based IT companies, NFAR TECH hopes to change the hiring culture through education and first-hand experience working with highly skilled autistic individuals.
Employing Those with Autism is Good Business
Businesses around the globe and in San Diego, including tech giant Microsoft, are finding that employees with HFA bring very specific and desired skills, along with a commitment to the workplace that are needed to thrive in the tech community. Employment prospects in the industry continue to grow, especially in the local San Diego market.
"We are preparing our students to walk into an office and be able to contribute as an employee," explained Leon. "We want to make it easy for both the company and individual to work together and can offer companies a variety of options to address their needs."
Businesses interested in learning more about NFAR TECH and their students should email Juan Leon directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (mailto:info@
About the National Foundation for Autism Research (NFAR)
NFAR was established in 2003 to serve the critical needs of families and their children with autism, including increasing local awareness, information, support, and services to improve the quality of life for persons living with autism or an autism spectrum disorder. Since 2005, NFAR has invested more than $1.6 million throughout the San Diego community to positively impact the living and learning environment for thousands of people with autism. www.NFAR.org.
About the David C. Copley Foundation
The David C. Copley Foundation (formerly known as the Helen K. and James S. Copley Foundation) carries on the Copley family legacy of giving back by supporting efforts of nonprofit organizations that are making a difference, especially those programs and services that are improving life opportunities of the underserved in the San Diego area. http://copleyfoundation.org
Maya Del Guidice