This is the second year of the Force for Positive Change event and awards ceremony. When the program first launched in 2016 there were two goals: Shine a light on the impactful work already taking place across Wisconsin; and inspire and engage the next generation of social entrepreneurs eager to make a difference. This year there were over 150 for-profit and non-profit applicants from throughout Wisconsin in six different categories including Food/Agriculture, Energy/Cleantech/Water/Environment, Finance/Lending/Housing, Education/Youth Programming, Manufacturing/Art/Design/Construction, and Workforce and Urban Development. The judging committees were struck by the stories of all the applicants and the ways in which each of them became a Force for Positive Change within their communities by demonstrating that it is possible to emphasize both social impact and financial stability. For more information on the Force for Positive Change visit https://www.warf.org/through-programs-and-events/for-inventors-entrepreneurs-and-researchers/force-for-positive-change/force-for-positive-change.cmsx.
The Make I.T. SOAR program gives high functioning individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) an opportunity to be gainfully employed in the information technology industry. Our program allows individuals with autism to have the opportunity to be gainfully employed and to fill the community need of IT talent.
Studies show that autism is the fastest growing developmental disability and autism in U.S. children has increased by 119.4% from 2000 to 2010. 35% of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school (Shattuck et al., 2012). Some estimates indicate that the rate of underemployment among adults with autism exceeds 90%. According to the Economic Outlook presented by the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce on in February 2015, and article published in November 2015 by NNB2B, there is a shortage of IT talent in the Fox Cities. Many high functioning individuals on with ASD have high technical skills and interest. These two key factors are the reasons Make I.T. SOAR program’s mission is to empower high functioning individuals with autism to pursue their dreams and utilize their talents in the technology industry.
Executive Director of SOAR Fox Cities, Erin Schultz, “We are honored to have been chosen as one of the recipients of a Force for Positive Change Award. There were over 150 well deserving applicants and for Make I.T. SOAR to have been chosen is truly humbling. It also sends a clear message about the social change we’re working to create within the Fox Cities and throughout the State of Wisconsin. Sadly, more often than not, individuals with developmental disabilities are only seen for their disabilities, not their abilities and SOAR Fox Cities and Make I.T. SOAR are working diligently to break this stigma. Receiving this award reaffirms what we’re doing and has energized our efforts.”