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Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation Grant Supports Specialisterne Program

By Katherine Murphy, Business Development Assistant for The Arc@Work. The Arc@Work provides companies with employment support services to assist them to find, hire and retain employees with IDD.

In 2015, The Arc received a 3 year grant from the Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation (MEAF) to support the replication of its Specialisterne project. The Specialisterne program empowers individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) both by providing individual participants the foothold they need to start their careers in IT and by supporting major employers in the field who want to hire more individuals with disabilities. For these individuals, the application and interview process presents social and information-sharing challenges, often leading employers to misinterpret the individuals’ true strengths and abilities. Through the Specialisterne program participants are given the opportunity to go through an interview process that is tailored to highlight their abilities, giving employers the opportunity to see how capable they truly are.

The Arc and its chapters now run the program in 4 locations: Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY; Washington, DC; and Columbia, SC. At these locations, The Arc has already partnered with a number of national corporations, including SAP, CAI, Towers Watson, Microsoft and Ernst and Young, and trained more than 40 individuals with ASD. The Arc of DC successfully completed its second training in September for potential Microsoft jobs in Redmond, WA. The Arc of Philadelphia is currently partnering with SAP for a second round of hiring, and Ernst and Young to train 20 plus individuals for analyst and administrator positions at both corporations. The Arc of Camden County in New Jersey has stepped in to help train and place individuals in Ernst and Young’s Mount Laurel location.

Thanks to the support of MEAF, The Arc has plans to replicate the Specialisterne program at an additional 2-3 sites in 2016 and we are currently looking in the following locations: New Jersey, North Carolina and Massachusetts. The Arc is excited about the progress that has been made with our Specialisterne program in 2015 and is looking forward to continuing the expansion of the program in 2016.