[Title slide: A background image of two women working on a computer is shown. Over the middle of the image is the title of the webinar, "Getting to the heart of workplace inclusion with non-profits". The CAI Neurodiverse Solutions logo is shown in the top left-hand corner.] 00:00:09 - 00:00:50 Anthony Pacilio Getting to the heart of workplace inclusion with non-profits. My name's Anthony Pacilio, Vice President of Neurodiverse Solutions at CAI. A little bit about me, besides being the brand and media ambassador, my responsibilities are to help organizations build neurodiversity programs and to lead our global expansion efforts of CAI Neurodiverse Solutions. My expertise lies in managing neurodiversity recruiting efforts, developing candidate pipelines, and ensuring best practices for onboarding, support, training, and organizational success. A few things before we begin today, I'd like to take a moment to go over some housekeeping items. [Agenda slide: A white background is shown with four boxes. The top left-hand corner is a dark blue box labeled number 1. Beside the box are the words "5 min. Introduction" are written in black text. The bottom left-hand corner is a blue box labeled number 2. Beside the box are the words "35 min. Discussion" written in black text. The top right-hand corner is a light blue box labeled number 3. Beside the box are the words "15 min. Audience Q&A" in black text. The bottom right-hand corner is a green box labeled number 4. Below the box are the words "5 min. Wrap Up" in black text.] 00:00:51 - 00:01:38 Anthony First, if you have any questions to submit during the discussion, we just ask that you use the Q&A feature found at the bottom of your Zoom app. Hopefully you all know where that is. There's going to be a time at the end of the discussion that we'll address as many questions as we can. In addition, you're going to find more information on the event in the chat box, so make sure to follow along with that as well. And lastly, I want to let you know that we're recording the session today for future viewing. So first, let's take a look at the agenda. As you can see, we have a few things that we'll be talking about today and we're going to be sharing with you each question visually as well. And we're going to meet today's guest right now. [Introduction slide: A white slide with the words "Meet our guests" is written in the top-left hand corner. The three guests circular headshots, names, and titles are shown in the middle of the screen. On the far left is speaker Jeremy Sutton, Chief Program Officer, Skills Center at Boone Center, Inc. His company logo is displayed below his name and title. Beside him in the middle of the screen is speaker Jennifer Faust, Director of Operations, REED foundation for Autism and Greens Do Good at REED Autism Services. Her company logo is displayed below her name and title. Beside her, on the far right of the screen is speaker Anthony Pacilio, Vice President, Neurodiverse Solutions at CAI. Below his name and title is a blue pill shape that with "Moderator" within it. 00:01:39 - 00:02:31 Anthony First, let's meet Jeremy Sutton. Jeremy joined Boone Center Inc, we're going to call it BCI from this point on, in 2018 and leads the skills training services offered through the BCI Skills Center, which is located in St. Peters Missouri and provides vocational training for individuals with disabilities. Jeremy helped start up the BCI Skills Center, which launched in 2019, and since opening 86 individuals with disabilities have graduated in 93%. That is a big number, have secured competitive employment as a result of the training, which is absolutely fantastic. And Jeremy's favorite part of the job is seeing the improvement of student soft skills at the end of the training. That's mine as well. Jeremy and welcome, Jeremy. 00:02:30 - 00:02:36 Jeremy Sutton Thank you, Anthony. Thank you for having me and this opportunity to present on behalf of BCI. 00:02:37 - 00:03:31 Anthony Yeah, we are excited to get to the questions for you as well. It's going to be awesome. We're going to move to Jennifer Faust. Jen has worked at REED Autism Services since 2012, and her current role is director of operations for the REED Foundation for Autism and Greens Do Good. She oversees partnerships and projects that focus on expanding education services and workforce development for individuals with autism. She also co-hosts REED's podcast, Changemakers in Autism with CEO, Chantelle Walker, who maybe we should pose this out there, I might be a guest on it in a little bit. Jen has a Bachelor of Arts in English from North Carolina State University and is inspired by the values that are essential to REED's mission in challenging the status quo for individuals with autism. Welcome, Jen. 00:03:32 - 00:03:38 Jennifer Faust Hey, good morning. It's an honor to be here. I'm really looking forward to talking about everything that REED has to offer. 00:03:39 - 00:04:41 Anthony Awesome. We can't wait to hear about it either. So thank you both for being with me today and we're going to get started if you don't mind. So helping people reach their true potential, and that is the biggest thing, the true potential gets to the heart of what productivity and purpose really mean at work. So when given the right support, neurodivergent employees can bring exceptional value to the workplace while expanding their skill sets and capabilities. Some businesses that play an instrumental role in providing this support are non-profit organizations. Jen, Jeremy, our like-minded organizations share a belief that individuals thrive when they can present their best self of work. And together all of us, we play that influential role in empowering neurodiverse talent by increasing awareness of neurodiversity, building a more inclusive workforce and creating work environments that set up neurodivergent individuals for success. 00:04:42 - 00:05:47 Anthony So in this sixty-minute webinar, and we're going to give you some time at the end, about 45 minutes in to ask questions, our guests are going to share how their organization cultivates support for neurodivergent individuals as they establish their careers, as well as discuss the following topics. The mission behind their non-profit organizations, easy for me to say, and challenges they face, the role they play when it comes to spreading awareness and acceptance of neurodiversity, how their organizations have made a difference for neurodivergent individuals and why it's important to give back to the neurodiverse community. So again, if you have questions for any of today's guests, make sure you use that Q&A feature at the bottom of the Zoom. So Jeremy, I'm going to kick it off with you today. So share a bit more about your organization, BCI, Boone Center, Inc. in that mission. [Question slide: A blurry backround of a woman walking between shelves of files. The question "Can you tell us more about Boone Center, Inc., and its mission?" is written in the middle of the screen. Below the question is a white background with speaker Jeremy Sutton's headshot, name, title, and company shown in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:05:48 - 00:06:59 Jeremy Absolutely. So yeah, so Boone Center, we've been around, actually the company's been around since 1959, but like you said earlier, Anthony, we are located in St. Peters Missouri, so just outside of St. Louis. And really, what we do is we provide employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Now we achieve that really through three different distinct ways. So the first way is we offer organizational employment where we employ individuals for jobs at BCI Packaging. So those are going to be production jobs, slight assembly jobs, and basically they're going to work here for us at BCI, we currently have about 220 individuals with disabilities who work for us between our two locations. So we do have another location that's a little bit smaller about 30 miles north of here. So that's one way that we provide opportunities for employment. The other two ways are really focused on what we would call competitive employment, so employment out in the community. 00:07:00 - 00:08:07 Jeremy And we do that through two distinct programs. So the first one is called Competitive Employment, and what they do is they work with individuals and they provide very personalized services for individuals with disabilities to explore and to secure competitive employment in the community. And then the other option, which is really what I head up, is the vocational training through the skill center. And what we do there is we provide short-term vocational training programs for individuals with disabilities that prepares them and places them into competitive employment with our employment partners. And just to talk about our mission a little bit, so our mission at BCI is to inspire and support individuals with disabilities, challenging personal growth and development through a continuum of innovative employment opportunities. So really the innovative employment opportunities are the ones that I spoke of. So we call that our continuum of employment services. So that's a little bit about BCI, what we do and our mission. 00:08:08 - 00:08:27 Anthony So I have a couple follow-ups here. So the BCI Packaging, so we always talk about serving the entire community, so those who need less support and those who need more support. So BCI Packaging, when did that come into existence? 00:08:28 - 00:09:25 Jeremy Yeah, so actually the organization, like I said earlier, has been around since 1959 so it actually started with one individual with a disability. We were founded by two mothers, Margaret Holmes and Jane Crider. They founded it and they actually started BCI by doing what at the time was candle making, so that's how we got our start. So it was candle making out of their garage and their first staff person, they hired their first staff person that had a disability and from that point on, it just grew from there. So from 1959 to making candles to now we're packaging and repackaging goods for some very large manufacturing companies. We have several contracts that we work with to provide those services for those companies. So it's pretty amazing how far we've come. 00:09:26 - 00:09:46 Anthony Yeah, so 60 plus years in existence, that's pretty darn impressive actually. Well, thank you for that. And we're going to talk more obviously, and Jen, I'm going to flip it to you, share a little bit more about the REED Autism Services in its mission. [Question slide: A blurry background of four people gathered together holding papers is shown with the question"Can you share with us more about REED Autism Services and its mission?" in the middle of the screen. Below that is a white background with speaker Jennifer Faust's headshot, name, title, and company in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:09:47 - 00:10:56 Jennifer So happy to, and I thought when I was going to come on and say we're 20 years old, that was impressive, but next to the 60, it feels like we're toddlers in this industry, so we still have work to do clearly. But REED Autism service is actually a group of four separate 501(c)(3) organizations where education, we provide one-to-one education to students from 3 to 21 with a primary diagnosis of autism. And it really focuses on the end of the spectrum that requires the greatest amount of support. We also have an adult day habillitation program for 21 plus, a residential program which is homes with fully supervised support. And then we have our farm Greens Do Good. That was conceptualized as a place where people with autism could work and thrive. And finally, the foundation that's our idea incubator. As I say, we have just celebrated our 20 years and we still have much more to do. 00:10:57 - 00:11:17 Anthony So question for you on that. So you talked about the... I have two questions actually. So the residential program, can you touch on that a little bit more? Is there a large age gap, who specifically is in there? How many maybe are you servicing? 00:11:18 - 00:12:22 Jennifer Okay, so much like Jeremy, we began with a small group of families. These parents were looking for appropriate education for their kids and as the kids grew out of their educational entitlements, they were looking for what's next. And that's how we came up with our residential program. So it's for anyone who's over 21 and it's group home models. So right now we have two homes in Glen Rock, New Jersey for four adult males in each. We have a third coming and we're really excited about that because it will be our first female residents. And so the age group that you're talking about is really the graduates of our program. They range from 21 years old to 28 years old right now. But we are also looking into an occlusive apartment housing model. We've done a feasibility study on that and we realized there's a great demand for the lower support needs. There's something like a 6,000 person waiting list in New Jersey for that kind of residential option. 00:12:23 - 00:12:31 Anthony Wow. That is a lot of folks that are just clamoring for some independent living. 00:12:32 Jennifer (12:32): Yeah. 00:12:32 - 00:12:38 Anthony All right. So I got the second part to that, the coolest thing is the farming. What are you farming? 00:12:39 - 00:13:08 Jennifer Okay. So it is really cool because it's controlled environment agriculture, which means we are a warehouse in the middle of a food desert, growing basil and lettuce and microgreens and kale. And it's really cool because there's a job for everyone on the farm. So whether you are a high support need individual or a very low support independent, drag yourself to the farm individual, there's something for everyone to do. 00:13:09 - 00:13:15 Anthony Now are you supplying local businesses? How does that work? 00:13:16 - 00:14:13 Jennifer So the lettuce that we grow, half of the lettuce that we grow actually goes to food pantries. And that's an empowering concept there because what we have are neurodiverse individuals really trying to impact food insecurity, so that's cool. The rest of the produce that we grow, the basil, the arugula, the baby kale goes to local ShopRites, which is the big grocery chain out here. Country clubs, restaurants, local markets. It's important to remember that it's local. So something about food that you don't necessarily know when you're in this autism space is that typical food is grown for transportation, not for consumption. So the importance of eating local is that it is picked the same day that it is hitting the ShopRite shelves. So we have a 30 to 40 mile radius that we sell to. 00:14:14 - 00:14:19 Anthony Wow, that is impressive. Now I need a salad. 00:14:20 - 00:14:21 Jennifer Yeah. 00:14:22 - 00:14:41 Anthony Now I'm just hungry. Jeremy, going back to you, in your role as the chief program officer, what are you doing on a day-to-day basis and take a little bit more and go deeper into the skill center? [Question slide: A blurry background of two people in a warehouse has the question "In your role as Cheif Program Officer of the BCI Skills Center, what exactly does that entail? Can you share with more about what the BCI Skills Center is?" written over it in the middle of the screen. Below that with a white background is speaker Jeremy Sutton's name, headshot, title, and company shown in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:14:42 - 00:15:43 Jeremy Absolutely. Yeah. So really what I do is I head up our vocational training programs. So I set our class scheduling and really determine what the employment needs are in the area and then try to match that with our programming. So a lot of what I do is also business development. So meeting with companies around the area, identifying companies that we may find have a lot of openings. And so those are companies that we may approach and let them know about our training programs. So that's a lot of what I do is that outreach piece but I also do a lot of compliance. We have some funding organizations that we heavily rely on in order to basically cover the cost of our training programs for students to come to us and not have to pay any tuition. So that's the beauty of it is we've got those funders in place that make that possible. [Image slide: Three images are shown in a collage style. The top left photo is a group of 12 individuals. Five of the individuals appear to be students and are holding certificates alongside their employer. The bottom left photo is a large zoomed out group photo of the company in their skills center. The third photo to the right of the first two is of a student on a piece of machinery wearing a safety vest.] 00:15:44 - 00:16:42 Jeremy So along with that, there's some compliance involved and then also compliance with the Missouri Department of Higher Education in the state of Missouri. So all of our training programs are certified by the state so that holds us to a very high standard. We got to make sure that what we're doing is quality work and so that's another thing that I really oversee. And then I think the most important thing that I do is I get to work with an outstanding team of individuals who truly are passionate about working with individuals with disabilities and doing whatever they can to make sure that they're successful. So that's the best part of my job. So there's some pictures there on that slide I'd like to talk to a little bit. So at the top picture, that is a picture of our first skills center graduating class for our partner, True Manufacturing, which True makes commercial refrigeration units. 00:16:43 - 00:17:55 Jeremy Their headquarters are actually right across from us in O'Fallon. And that was the first class so I actually got to teach that class and that was an amazing experience and you can see that there's a lot of folks there from True that were at attendance at our graduation ceremony. So that was a very important milestone for us to have that first graduating class so obviously I'll never forget those guys. The big picture below with everybody that you see there, those are our St. Peters organizational employees for BCI Packaging. So that's about 185 plus, staff as well so another probably 60 that are in that picture too. So that's my family. That's the way I see it. So these are people that I get the opportunity to see every day and work with every day. And I tell you what, it's the happiest place on earth when you walk through BCI Packaging. If you're having a bad day, I can tell you that it doesn't last long when you go and meet our hardworking employees, they're just amazing. And then another little picture there on the side, that's a young man, his name is Dalton. 00:17:56 - 00:19:09 Jeremy He went through one of our training programs... Actually, I'm sorry, he went through competitive employment and it's a good picture because it highlights that, the competitive employment side where again it's more of that individualized approach. But he was able to get a job as a forklift driver. So he started working at a company called Distribution Management. It's a large warehouse facility. He really had eyes on operating a forklift. And so he's just a good success story that I wanted to put in there. A very bright young man with a very bright future who's making a lot of money. So that tells you a little bit about BCI and everything and a little bit about me. And then as far as sharing what we're doing at the skill center. So really what we do is it's those two programs, it's our vocational training programs and it's our competitive employment services programs. I would say that the vast majority of the students that we serve would be considered neurodiverse. So we have a pretty high population of individuals that are on the spectrum, but other neurodiverse conditions as well. 00:19:10 - 00:20:09 Jeremy We serve them mostly, that's our population. So we started in 2019, and currently we offer four vocational training programs. So those include manufacturing, those include warehouse, we have a healthcare and social assistance program and then we also have a hospitality training program. So our training programs, the way they work is they're very specific to a job and they're very specific to an employer. And so that's a little bit of a different approach that we've taken is when we start a training program up to this point, it's based off of really what that employer, really the skill set that they need for the particular jobs that we are helping them fill with our students. So it's a little bit different approach in the sense that it's not necessarily completely generalized. We are looking into some generalized training programs, but at this point it's been very specific to employers. 00:20:10 - 00:20:49 Jeremy And so almost all of our training programs are held on site at our employment partners. And so what that does is that really allows our students to get acclimated to their environment, to get comfortable with the people that they're going to be working with and the supervisors that are going to be managing them. And so we found out that that's been a very, very good thing for our students. And they will train for about eight weeks and it's three hours a day. And as I said earlier, tuition is covered. So any student that comes to us, we have a mechanism to fund their tuition so there's no out-of-pocket cost to them. They just have to show up every day for training. 00:20:50 - 00:21:39 Jeremy They have to be successful in training. And then once they are, then they get employed at that employment partner. So Anthony, you already talked a little bit about some of our statistics earlier on, and those are the things that we're really proud of obviously. But the one that stands out to me, I think is that we, as far as our skill center training graduates, we currently have, and this is a historical number, 86% job retention rate after six months on the job. And so we're very proud of that, but that just goes to really our clientele, the folks that we work with, honestly. We have folks that really desire to work, and when they get that opportunity, more times than not, they tend to stick and they tend to be very loyal. 00:21:40 - 00:22:29 Anthony That's awesome. You covered my one question of the no tuition, and it's not even a question, it's a statement. That's fantastic. No better thought from a parent, caregiver, guardian to know that there's not a fee associated with it. But that's not always the case and sometimes it's necessary to have a fee associated with that because you obviously have to pay your workers to make sure that you're doing the right things and you're assessing skills and aptitude, all of that good stuff. I think the other question that I have is, are these full-time or part-time jobs or are they a mix? 00:22:30 - 00:23:25 Jeremy Yeah, great question. So I would say the majority of our opportunities are going to be full-time, but we will have individuals that will really want to work part-time, and sometimes that has to do with their public benefits. And so if they work too many hours or make too much money, it could impact their ability to continue to get those public benefits. So that's something that each of our individuals and their families have to make a decision on. Luckily we have a benefits counselor who works with our clients and makes that math a lot easier to understand. But yeah, I would say most are full-time, but what we've started to see a little bit more lately is more part-time opportunities as well. So I would say that our employers have been very flexible with this as far as having both options available. 00:23:26 - 00:24:05 Anthony That's awesome. We can appreciate the making sure that everybody has an opportunity to go to work, whether it's for two hours a day or it's eight hours a day. That is absolutely spectacular. And so Jen, almost the same question for you, as the director of operations, the REED Foundation for Autism and Greens Do Good, share a little bit about each of those areas that you lean into. [Question slide: A blurry background of a greenhouse is shown with the question "As the Director of Operations, you oversee the REED foundation for Autism and Greens Do Good. Can you share with us more about each area you focus on?" in the middle of the screen. Below that is speaker, Jennifer Faust's headshot, name, title, and company shown in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:24:06 - 00:24:58 Jennifer Right. So the foundation is really where we like to say we are careful risk-takers. That's where we're being thoughtful about what programs we need to provide next. We frequently conduct surveys to see where there are gaps in services, and then I create partnerships or work with team members in the community to fill those gaps. The farm is different. The farm really is about opportunities for employment. We started with three students from a nearby high school providing some work-based learning, and within a year it turned into 50. And then the following year we now have 80 students that come to the farm from their high school programs, whether it's a private school or a public school, and they enjoy work-based learning. 00:24:59 - 00:25:41 Jennifer So 80 students come through the farm each week and by the time they finish with our curriculum, the idea is that they are now trained and ready for employment at either a traditional farm or any other controlled environment. However, what we have learned is that the jobs on the farm actually align to many other career tracks. So whether you're really good with inventory or understanding the science behind the agriculture, or perhaps you're into sales or marketing or maybe delivering. So we have found that while we're focused on growing fresh food, it has been a vehicle to many other career tracks. 00:25:42 - 00:26:29 Anthony All right, a follow-up to that. One of the big points that you made just talking about the farm is seeing not only farming, but when you assess skills that those are transferable skills, not necessarily only the farm, it can be applied elsewhere. I think that's a huge part of the community itself. So a lot of folks don't know what they're going to do or they grabbed a certificate to do X, Y, and Z, but it may not translate into "job opportunity". What you're able to provide them is hands-on experience, understanding how that work benefits them. But it's also a business case too, right? 00:26:30 - 00:27:13 Anthony There's profit and all the other good stuff that goes along with it. But I think those transferable skills, and we know that not everybody's going to have a resume, it's going to be a profile of what Billy or Sally likes to do and what they're good at. I think taking that, figuring out what those individuals have internally and what their passion is, what you're finding out on the farm is probably, in my estimation, is probably one of the most unbelievable things because who would've thought a farm figures out what maybe the next life goal is? So I don't know if that's a question or statement, but that's pretty awesome. 00:27:14 - 00:28:21 Jennifer Thank you. I could speak to that just a little bit. So what's cool is that when we started this vocational work-based learning program, we realized we needed to break it down. And because we have this background in education, we were able to create more than a hundred task analysis for every job that's needed to do on the farm. So while we were guiding students through that curriculum, we realized that there were areas that we weren't hitting, which was job exploration. Maybe you don't love agriculture, maybe you're really good at packaging and marketing, and this is just a leaping off point. So what we realized is that we needed to do more in the supported employment sector. So we started with resume prep, workplace readiness, and career counseling and job exploration. So thank you for bringing that up because one thing, absolutely, when we see someone who's excelling, that's great, but when we see someone who's in our curriculum and not doing so well, that gives us an opportunity to reevaluate and create more opportunities for them. 00:28:22 - 00:28:40 Anthony Yeah. Sometimes you have to zig left to go right, right? So that's awesome. So Jeremy, we're going back to you on this one. Neurodivergent individuals in the work that you're doing, how is that making a difference? [Question slide: A blurry background of two people in a warehouse is shown with the question "How does your work with BCI Skills Center make a difference in the lives of neurodivergent individuals?" in the middle of the screen. Below that with a white background is speaker, Jeremy Sutton's headshot, name, title, and company shown in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:28:41 - 00:29:55 Jeremy Yeah, so I think the biggest difference that we offer is we're providing opportunities for employment for those who really want to work, who have capabilities to be successful in competitive employment and helping them land the job and then also to retain that job. So I think to me, that's the driving force behind what we do. So we also provide opportunities for individuals who are underemployed. So we get a lot of students that come to us that maybe they've been working in fast food for a while, not making really great pay and maybe not having much success, and so they're looking for something more substantial. So they come to us and we're able to provide that opportunity for them. Now we also, we help educate employment partners. So that's a big part of it is we do provide that at no cost to our employment partners. So we can come in and we can do diversity training with them to let them know what really some of the things that we've learned that work best, best practices for working with individuals that we serve. 00:29:56 - 00:31:08 Jeremy Because sometimes there's going to be some things that they might be approached with that they don't know how to handle. We put students into training programs where there's been managers who have been there and they felt like they have to really take it easy on them. And really what we say is treat them like everybody else. They're the same as everyone else. There's just some modifications in the way you might have to present yourself to them. So it's pretty minor stuff for the most part. So that education piece for our employment partners is huge. So that's another thing that we're doing to make a difference. Also, I feel like what we have done is we've held our students to a really high standard. So I've always been an advocate of that when we first started this program to really make sure that we're pushing our students to their maximum potential. Because in some, cases some of our students come to us and they've had a lot of previous failures. 00:31:09 - 00:32:01 Jeremy We want to put an end to that and we see the potential in them and we want to make sure that we're holding them, we're setting that bar high for them to achieve. Another thing we do is with our soft skills training, which we do one hour a day, so we have our students practice soft skills for one hour a day. A lot of that is going to be based off communication skills. But one thing that when I first started at BCI, a thing that I found online was the term "embrace discomfort". And that is something that we really try to practice with our students in the sense that for you to become your best self, for you to really improve, you've got to do things that really stretch you and take you outside of your comfort zone. And for some of our individuals that we serve, that can be very, very challenging. 00:32:02 - 00:32:57 Jeremy Change is hard, but we are here with them to help them through that change. So when they're able to start embracing that uncomfortable feeling, we tell them, "Hey, that's change. And that's good because that means that you're growing as a person." And so that's been a rally cry for our training programs. Other things that we do to help neurodivergent individuals is we provide job coaching, we provide retention services. We also provide discovery and exploration services for individuals who aren't sure what they want to do with a career. So that gives them the chance to try different careers out for a short period of time to see if there's one that maybe they really like and maybe something that they really have a strength in. We also do a summer work program. Last summer we had forty-six individuals who are high school students. 00:32:58 - 00:33:53 Jeremy They were juniors and seniors, who participated in our summer work program, which is essentially six weeks of a summer job at various sites that we partner with throughout the area. So that's a great way to get that first job experience. And a lot of times when students go through that and see the service that we provide there, they're pretty likely to come back to us for other services as well. We also, last year we did a manufacturing camp. It was called a manufacturing inclusion camp for high school students. It was intended to serve freshmen and sophomores. And so that was a three-week experience where students visited different manufacturing facilities in the area. They got exposed to what manufacturing looks like. They got to see the cool high-tech technology. They got to do some hands-on work at each of those different facilities. They got to experience something that a lot of young people don't get to. 00:33:54 - 00:35:07 Jeremy And so what that has done is that has created now an interest for them to work in a manufacturing environment once they're done with high school. So that was really great. And then some of our graduates and clients, just as far as the outcomes that we love to see, we've had some that have been able to move into their own apartments. We've had some that have been able to become completely independent. Some have gotten married, some have gotten engaged, purchased their own vehicles with the funds that they're making now through these jobs. And I think the biggest thing that we provide is hope, especially for families. Families, when we have our graduation ceremonies and we look around and we see the parents, most of the time there's tears because they finally see that their son or daughter can be successful in a job. And when they finally see that it does, it really instills that sense of hope for them that, hey, my son or daughter does have a bright future. And so when we see that, that makes our jobs completely worth it. 00:35:08 - 00:35:18 Anthony No, absolutely, man, that's a definite robust program. And Jen, I'm going to throw the same question to you actually. [Question slide: A blurry background of a woman picking fruit off a tree is shown with the question "How does your work with the REED Foundation for Autism and Greens Do Good make a difference in the lives of neurodivergent indivuals?" in the middle of the screen. Below that with a white background is speaker Jennifer Faust's headshot, name, title, and company in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:35:19 - 00:36:22 Jennifer So REED is really trying to be a comprehensive resource for individuals and their families who have a diagnosis of autism. And what we know is that the spectrum's pretty vast. And while the typical REED student has some high support needs, and we do provide, for instance, we have just launched an intensive behavior clinic. And so the typical REED student is a one-to-one setting, one teacher to one student, and the intensive behavior clinic when necessary is two instructors to one student. So we really feel like it's important to be there in those crisis situations, but just as important are the folks on the other side of the spectrum who have very low support needs. And what we're seeing there is really a yearning to communicate, a yearning for socialization, a yearning to be part of a team, and REED is trying to solve for that as well. 00:36:23 - 00:37:24 Jennifer We've created some social opportunities. I go out of my way just to make happy hours after work, and it's really actually happy for everyone. We're all having a good time, and we're talking about dating and we're talking about safety and we're talking about college. And to that end, REED is launching a college program for individuals on the spectrum who don't necessarily have the traditional college prep track, but have the inclination and the interest and would love nothing more than to be part of a college campus and community and go to a dining hall and hang out after class at a quad. So we're working to solve all of that. And I think that's what makes REED a little bit different because a lot of foundations are focused on fundraising, a lot of schools are focused on education. A lot of day programs are focused on life skills. And what REED tries to do is really be a one stop for everyone so that they can thrive and live to their fullest potential. 00:37:25 - 00:38:12 Anthony Oh, that's awesome. And so I appreciate the whole happy hour concept. I think that socialization piece is massive. We've found over the years that it's been segmented in the community, not getting out, not doing all of these things, trying to bring the tribe together so to speak, is just one of those things that hopefully will just help people blossom from the executive function skills, getting to happy hour on time and conversing and being present. So I appreciate that you're trying to get folks to do that, and especially the college program, like that pre-program, is massive as well. 00:38:13 - 00:38:36 Jennifer Yeah. It's about meeting people where they are and filling the need that you see in front of you. So if I meet someone who desperately needs a job, okay, well we're going to work to make sure that we solve for their employment. But if I meet someone else who's really desperate for a friend, I'm going to go out of my way to create an opportunity for friendship building. And if the skills need to be taught, we'll provide the training. 00:38:37 - 00:39:04 Anthony No, absolutely. And I know we have about five or six minutes left before we get to some of the questions and maybe we can go a little bit longer. So I got a question for you, Jeremy. So the benefits to the employers, and we looked at the 200 people in that one picture. Why are we hiring neurodivergent individuals? What's the benefit to the employer? [Question slide: A blurry background of a group of people gathered together holding cups of coffee is shown with the question "From your experience, what would you say are some benefits to employers to hire neurodivergent individuals?" in the middle of the screen. Below that with a white background is the speaker Jeremy Sutton's headshot, name, title, and company in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:39:05 - 00:40:06 Jeremy Yeah. So there's obviously quite a few, but I think one of the greatest benefits is job retention. Again, and I spoke to this earlier, our population, again, not all, but some, have really had some limited opportunities. So again, when they get that opportunity, man, they seize it and they don't let it go. And so when I'm talking to companies, they're all saying the same thing. They're saying, "We can't find people that will show up to work each day. We can't find people who will work hard each day. And then when we do have somebody that starts working, they quit a week or two after they're done." And so I'm like, "Well, that's not the population we serve. that's the opposite of our population. So if you want a good workforce, you want people who are going to show up each day. You want people who are going to work hard, dedication, loyalty to their companies. Man, that's our population right there." 00:40:07 - 00:41:00 Jeremy So once companies start to see that, then they really get it. So an example of that is with True Manufacturing, True Manufacturing partnered with us back in 2019 on that first training class and they hired those five students over at True. And then from that point on, now they have over 30 individuals working at True Manufacturing who either came through our skill center training program or through our competitive employment program. And so True saw the benefit immediately, the job retention problem was all of a sudden much better. Their job retention honestly was really bad. But then with us as a solution and our people as a solution, it got much better. Another thing we see is it really does lend itself to increased morale among other employees from the employers. 00:41:01 - 00:41:55 Jeremy We go out and see when we go to the graduation ceremonies, it's really impressive to see just how involved and dedicated and supportive the coworkers are of basically having individuals with disabilities work side by side with them. And it really does honestly make the company much more productive and it really increases that relationship building. Loyalty is huge. The tendency to always show up for work is huge. And then another thing, and I will give credit to this to a guy named Barry Jacobson, he works for Bayer. He said this at a recent neurodiversity workshop for MasterCard. He said that when companies really focus on neurodiverse hiring practices, it makes people managers become better leaders. And that was a light bulb moment for me when he said that. I was like, you know what? That's a great way of putting that. 00:41:56 - 00:42:21 Anthony Yeah. Definitely a good quote on that one, for sure. And we're going to pivot to my last question here, and then we're going to get into the Q&A and we're going to throw in some other things within that Q&A. Jen, to you first, why is it important to give back to the community? [Question slide: A blurry background with a group of indivduals in an office setting is shwon with the question "Why do you feel it's important to give back to the neurodiverse community?" in the middle of the screen. Below that with a white background is both speaker, Jeremy Sutton and Jennifer Faust's headshots, names, titles, and companies in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:42:22 - 00:42:25 Jennifer Gosh, we should have all day for this, right? 00:42:26 - 00:42:27 Anthony Yeah. We only got three minutes, but yeah. 00:42:28 - 00:43:04 Jennifer Yeah. So here's the thing. It's not the diagnosis you get, it's what you do with it. And if you have talents, if you have skills, you've got to lend them. If you have financial resources, you've got to give that because the return on investment is exponentially bigger than anything you've ever given. I'm sorry that sounds really canned and corny, but it is the truth. Having lunch at Greens Do Good with a neurodivergent team is just the greatest experience ever. So if all I'm giving is my time, I'm getting so much in return. 00:43:05 - 00:43:09 Anthony Awesome. Jeremy, same question. We got about a minute or so before we get in there. 00:43:10 - 00:43:43 Jeremy Yeah. So the way I see it is it's an overlooked talent pool that have tremendous abilities. And if there's anything we can do to help connect them and give them those opportunities, then that makes it all worthwhile because what we're really providing to companies is a legitimate workforce solution. So this is not a charity, this is to make companies work better, be better, and just be more well-rounded. So that's the way I see it. 00:43:44 - 00:44:10 Anthony That's awesome. And so we've gone through my questions and here comes the fun part. We've allotted some time for the audience to submit some questions for both of you. And Jen, we're going to start with you here. How can we become a part of the program, Greens Do Good, REED Autism Services and contribute our expertise? [Q&A slide: A blue background is shown with Audience Q&A in the middle in white text and the CAI Neurodiverse Solutions logo displayed in the bottom left hand corner.] 00:44:11 - 00:44:59 Jennifer Okay. Wow. So email me because I would love to talk to you. If you are a young adult, if you're a teen, young adult in a transition program, we welcome you to the farm. We would coordinate with our workforce development coordinator and whoever the SLE... It used to be the SLE term, the Work-Based Learning Coordinator at your school is, we would fit you into the schedule. We're happy to have you. If you'd like to apply for a job at the farm, you have to go into our website. We have an opening for a driver right now if anybody is interested. And then for the school program, it's a little bit more complicated. There is an intake process. But listen, if you're interested, please reach out. We will talk to you. 00:45:00 - 00:45:09 Anthony Awesome. And so Jeremy, one for you. How are you growing the BCI Skill Center? What are we doing to expand it? 00:45:10 - 00:46:03 Jeremy Absolutely. So a couple of things we're doing is we are looking at... Actually, we're going to start at the beginning of next year, is offering general training classes. So what that's going to allow us to do is to capture more students and to be able to have a more regular schedule of classes. Because a lot of times we're pretty dependent on employers and when they have job openings. So with general training programs, that's going to have multiple employment partners rather than just one, which will allow different opportunities for students to go into. So we're going to do that with our warehouse training program. It's going to become a general warehouse training program. So there's a ton of warehouses here, especially where we live here in St. Peters, this area. And so a lot of companies that are really in need of a good workforce there. The other thing that we're doing is we're expanding to different areas. 00:46:04 - 00:46:48 Jeremy So we're actually taking the skills center model and we're expanding that to Southwest Missouri. So we're starting a school down there called ITI, which stands for Imagine Technical Institute with the BCI Skill Center. So we have a leader who works for BCI who is overseeing that, and we're going to start classes there. Same classes we offer up here in St. Louis, we're going to offer it to the Springfield and Branson area, and that's going to start in January. And so we're excited about that. We're also expanding our competitive employment services into Illinois. And so that's going to be another set of employers, another set of different job opportunities and a whole different population of individuals who could utilize that service. 00:46:49 - 00:47:29 Anthony Wow. You have a lot of expansion efforts on the horizon, that is for sure. That's a big piece to chew off, but I think you guys are well positioned and ready to go. It definitely sounds like it for certain. So Jen, and I wanted to ask this earlier, part of what you do, you personally, goes above and beyond the REED Foundation, the podcast you have. I wanted to get to it, how long you've been doing it, who's the target audience and what are some of the great things that have come out of that podcast? 00:47:30 - 00:48:44 Jennifer Thank you for asking. So we started it right on the cusp of COVID ending because we felt like that was a good way to continue to support our community. The ideal audience is really anyone who knows someone with autism or has it themselves, and that's pretty much everyone. Some of the really cool people we've spoken to are athletes who use neurodiversity as their philanthropy and they're really trying to get the word out. We've spoken to a lot of real estate developers who are looking to create inclusive housing models, truly inclusive housing. And we've spoken to a lot of academics who are doing some groundbreaking research where neurodiverse peers are teaching neurodiverse peers, which is really, really exciting and cool. And some of the cool things that we've gotten out of it are actually partnering opportunities. Some of the people we talk to end up wanting to partner with us more. Folks in this sector who are creating neurodiverse workforces, we're tapping into that and seeing how we can work together and provide some high value talent to their industries. 00:48:45 - 00:48:48 Anthony How long was the podcast? How long have you had it for? 00:48:49 - 00:48:54 Jennifer Started in '21, so not that long. 00:48:55 - 00:49:06 Anthony No, that's all right. Hey, going on three years. I can't believe it's almost '24 at this point. So going on three years, how many podcasts have you done? Can you even recall? 00:49:07 - 00:49:40 Jennifer Oh, yes. It's actually, we do... Yeah, 24. So because we all have full-time jobs, we do a season of recording. And so we're just wrapping up our season three right now and already have some folks booked for season four. And what's been interesting, and we always joke about it, is when you get the list back of listeners and demographics, we're killing it in Mongolia. And that's just fascinating, isn't it? 00:49:41 - 00:49:43 Anthony Mongolia? Okay. That is very interesting. 00:49:44 - 00:49:52 Jennifer No, but I think it does speak to the lack of autism services throughout the world and a lot more needs to be done in a lot of different areas. 00:49:53 - 00:50:13 Anthony Well, thank you, I appreciate that. And Jeremy, flipping you, there's a question for you. How are you recruiting and training your direct support staff in order to maintain staff to participant ratios? Not to make it too overwhelming. 00:50:14 - 00:50:58 Jeremy So we've actually, we just posted another job requisition this week for another vocational instructor, which is awesome because we're at a point now where in order for us to really expand our offerings, we have to have a third instructor. So that's great, but as far as the training is concerned, really when we bring this new person on board, they're going to get trained up by our existing vocational instructors. And so they'll spend time with them in the classroom learning how they structure a class and really also sharing all the information that they've got through the different task analysis that they put together in their curriculum. And everything that they do is typically on Google Classroom. 00:50:59 - 00:51:35 Jeremy And so they'll share that with those new instructors. So really I had tasked them, the existing experts, with training the up and coming new ones. And then on the other side, with competitive employment, I know that vocational rehabilitation here in Missouri does some really good training for new employees. And so our competitive employment chief program officer, he makes sure that each of his individuals goes through that training. So that way it's really systematic, they're doing exactly what vocational rehabilitation wants them to do, and so then everybody's on the same page and it's uniform. 00:51:36 - 00:52:10 Anthony Yeah, that definitely makes sense. I appreciate that. And the growth continues, obviously. People are definitely interested. So speaking of interesting, Jen, question, was interested in your thoughts on the growth of the green agricultural-based employment for neurodivergent individuals across the US and start with that one and then they had a follow-up to that as well. 00:52:11 - 00:53:17 Jennifer Well, what I'd like to say is that it's a bright outlook job. So the Department of Labor has given it the label of Bright Outlook, which means it is an employment sector that's only got growth in its future. And whether you're neurodiverse, whether you identify as neurodiverse or not, whether you disclose that or not, our pay scale is exactly the same for everyone. So if you're a full-time employee, you all start at the same rate and there's plenty of room for promotions and growth. If you're a part-time employee, again, everyone is paid exactly the same. Now not everyone can work the same amount of time, like Jeremy alluded to earlier because of stamina, because of other requirements, because other people have multiple jobs. And again, we meet people where they are. If you have the stamina for 40 hours, we would love to have you. And the pay scale is exactly the same. And if you have the stamina for two hours also fine, there's a spot for you. And the pay scale is exactly the same. 00:53:18 - 00:53:30 Anthony Actually, now I got two other questions for this. Have other organizations that you're aware of done the same model in the agricultural space, that you know of? 00:53:31 - 00:53:52 Jennifer Now they are. So we were the first in New Jersey. That's not to say we were the first in the United States, but we were the first in New Jersey to create a farm specifically as an employment vehicle for people on the autism spectrum. And others have followed suit and we are getting some contacts from other states asking to lift and shift this model because of its success. 00:53:53 - 00:54:09 Anthony Gotcha. All right. So the follow-up to the follow-up to the follow-up, what is that program doing to dispel or de-stigmatize agricultural-based work for neurodivergent individuals? 00:54:10 - 00:55:21 Jennifer Well, I think that we do two separate things. So for the 80 students that come through the farm each week, it is part of their educational curriculum to experience job sampling. So what we do is one hour of agricultural education and it's part of their work-based learning curriculum. So that's not really dispelling or proving or disproving, it's just education. And then when they're finished with their education, they can decide if they're interested in agriculture, if they're interested in any of the career tracks that it could prepare them for, or if they're interested in media and they want to be an on-air DJ, there's a lot of options. Then as for the employment piece, like I said, everybody's exactly the same at the farm. So if you have a college degree or if you have come to us from the work-based learning program, everyone starts with seeding and everyone grows from there and everyone has equal opportunity to advancement. And again, the pay scale is the same so I think that speaks to that. 00:55:22 - 00:56:33 Anthony Yeah. And I think as we talk about the plethora of jobs and typically we have a representative of jobs that fit, we see them in most industries like IT, healthcare, legal, all sorts of different things. One of the newest pieces is making sure that there is that opportunity for everyone. And if you don't know what you want, the agricultural piece is a good segue to do other things. And I think the whole dispelling myths and rumors and de-stigmatizing, I hope one day we'll all get passed exactly having to do that every time. I know it's still here, right? Jeremy, you've been doing it a long time, Jen, you've been doing it a long time. I've been doing it for some time trying to tell people like, "Listen, human beings are human beings regardless of whether they think differently", everybody thinks differently. 00:56:34 - 00:57:34 Anthony We're just trying to make sure that we take into consideration empathy and understanding your neighbor or your friend, and laying that out for people to know that everybody needs a little assistance sometimes. And if there's people out there like your organization, Jen, and your organization, Jeremy, that are going to be able to help facilitate that, oh my gosh, what better opportunity for those individuals to take a new leap of faith, so to speak? And I know that there's lots of parents, caregivers and guardians who listen to these webinars and whatnot, but we are trying to stress that these two organizations that we're talking to today are outstanding. They know what they're doing and they're going to help whoever it is that needs an opportunity. So I'm going to stop there because unfortunately our time today is over. 00:57:35 - 00:58:24 Anthony I'd love to thank Jeremy and Jen for joining us today and sharing your insight with us. It's been an absolute pleasure chatting with both of you. I'd also like to thank our audience for your attention and participation. And later we're going to be sending everyone that attended a recording of this event to share with your colleagues and peers. And in the meantime, as I always say, if you're interested in learning more about CAI Neurodiverse Solutions or know someone that is, visit our website at cai.io and fill out our contact form. And thank you everybody for joining us today, and I hope you have a great rest of your day. [Closing slide: A photo of two women is shown with the title of the event over the middle of the photo reading "Getting to the heart of workplace inclusion with non-profits". Below that reads "Thank you for attending! To learn more, visit www.cai.io/neurodiverse-solutions.]


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