EVANSTON, Ill., Aug. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A $125,000 grant from the Coleman Foundation will fund the pilot and launch of Have Dreams Academy at Have Dreams, a local autism resource nonprofit. Have Dreams Academy is an autism-speciﬁc workplace training program for high school graduates and young adults with ASD seeking to successfully navigate future employment, career planning, college or post-secondary coursework. Young adults with autism face great challenges securing employment and navigating adult life independently once they have completed their education programs.
In partnership with ILOVESWEETS Bakery, funding will support the development of a manufacturing curriculum, a related soft skills curriculum, and job assessment tools that can be adapted for each program participant. In addition, the grant provides for the engagement of an intern from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. The intern will assist in the collection and analysis of Have Dreams Academy students' job training and performance data at the bakery. The intern will also assist in the creation a business case which outlines the economic benefits of hiring Have Dreams Academy students. This business case will then be used to develop a pipeline of employers for Have Dreams Academy graduates.
"The need for vocational and workplace training for young adults impacted by autism has never been greater," said Kris Johnsen, Have Dreams founder and Executive Director. "We field calls every day from concerned parents who are looking for options. Our focus is on utilizing the strengths of people with ASD so that their employment provides a business advantage to the employer, too."
"As a funder of programs in disabilities as well as entrepreneurship education, we see great potential in the collaboration between Have Dreams, ILOVESWEETS Bakery and their Kellogg School of Management intern to discover, document and articulate the profit-driving reasons for employing individuals with ASD in manufacturing settings", said Clark McCain, Senior Program Officer at The Coleman Foundation.
Have Dreams Academy participants will acquire a variety of transferrable job skills needed for competitive employment, increase social and communication skills ("soft skills") needed for career readiness, formulate a personal plan for disclosure, including needed job supports or accommodations, develop their own resume and electronic portfolio matching strengths and interests, and practice job interviewing and the use of job searching strategies.
About Have Dreams
Have Dreams is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and families with autism. Have Dreams provides best practice programs to individuals with autism, helping them learn important communication and social skills enabling them to develop into contributing members of their communities. Have Dreams also provides autism intervention methods training to teachers and professionals, consultative, diagnostic, assessment and family support resource services. Have Dreams was established in 1996 and has locations in Park Ridge and Evanston, Illinois. For more information please visit havedreams.org.
About The Coleman Foundation
The Coleman Foundation is a private, independent grantmaking foundation established in Illinois in 1951. The Foundation supports educational institutions offering entrepreneurship education, organizations providing cancer treatment, education and support, and non-profits providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities. Since 1981, the Foundation has committed over $20 million to various programs aimed at helping individuals with disabilities experience a higher quality of life and increased self-determination through success in their work, comfort in their home and satisfaction across the varied stages of their lives.
SOURCE Have Dreams