The non-profit seeks to raise awareness, acceptance and opportunity for autistic and neurodivergent adults
“It’s difficult to estimate the unemployment rate for autistic/neurodivergent adults. Some studies show unemployment as high as 66 percent for young adults two years post-high school.* Others show it as high as 85 percent for autistics with a college degree**,” said Amy Gudmestad, CEO of MICC. "Regardless of the statistics, the fact that there are barriers to neurodivergent adult employment is obvious and must be addressed. MICC works with both autistic adults and employers to address workplace accessibility and offer a broadened lens on inclusion so both the individual and employer can achieve success.”
MICC was founded in 1996 as a person-centered post-secondary education alternative pathway for autistic high school graduates not bound for a two- or four-year academic degree programs. In those more than 27 years, MICC has offered autistic and neurodivergent adults who desire independence the opportunity to engage in hands-on learning, education, support, and resources in a college-like environment that includes on-campus residential living and social programming.
“Every person is unique. Our programs focus on the whole person and are customized according to each individual’s talents, goals and support needs,” said Gudmestad. “Our curriculum and services are hands-on and encompass independent and healthy living skills, social and emotional learning, and career skills and employment. The integrated Careers Program includes specialized training in retail, hospitality, health services, and culinary certificates endorsed by Century College. It also includes job placement, on-the-job coaching and workplace accommodations.”
MORE OPTIONS FOR AUTISTIC/NEURODIVERGENT ADULTS
To date, to take advantage of MICC’s programming, participants could only enter through the three-year on-campus College Program available to adults 18-26, but this month, MICC is launching a pilot Specialized Employment Skills (SES) program.
“The College Program is all-encompassing, guiding neurodivergent adults toward independence through skill development and hands-on support, but not all autistic adults need that. Many have college degrees and/or their own apartments and transportation, but they want more support with specific skill development, job readiness and career enhancement,” said Gudmestad. “The SES Program is an expansion on what MICC has been doing for the last 27 years, but we’re making it more flexible, affordable and accessible to more people.”
The MICC track record speaks for itself. 100 percent of MICC participants who are eligible for employment are employed and 97 percent of Career Program participants self-reported they benefit from career services and feel supported in pursuing their career goals. MICC wants to build on that success. SES will be available to individuals who have completed their high school education and are at least 22 years of age at the time of enrollment. Applications for the five-month SES program are being accepted now with classes to begin in January for eight participants with the plan to open enrollment to more participants when SES officially launches in Summer 2024. If you are interested in learning more about SES, visit MICC’s website at https://www.miccommunity.org/sesprogram and attend an on-site Information Open House:
Thursday, October 26, 2023, 6 pm to 8 pm
2120 West 76th Street
Richfield, MN 55423
The success of MICC’s careers program and the launch SES pilot program wouldn’t be possible without the participation of employers in hosting practicums and experiential learning experiences in addition to job placement. MICC partners with organizations across the Twin Cities including Best Buy, Target, Walgreens, Fresh Thyme, CVS, Lunds & Byerlys and more. According to the US Department of Labor+, companies that are leaders in disability inclusion have 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income and 30 percent higher economic profit margins.
“Many businesses have had a difficult time filling roles, how might employing autistic/neurodivergent individuals address that? I urge companies to consider which of their current practices and processes unintentionally exclude autistic/neurodivergent individuals,” said Gudmestad. “There are extremely talented individuals who identify as neurodivergent and on the spectrum at all levels of employment, from entry-level to executives at Fortune 500 companies. Their contributions will bring a different perspective to your conversations, your designs, your culture, your customer experience. Autistics and the neurodivergent see the world differently, and if companies can see that as an asset versus a liability, their customer experience would change. Remember, what is good for someone on the spectrum is typically good for all of us.”
Employers can learn more by contacting MICC today and requesting a Neurodiversity in the Workplace training at https://www.miccommunity.org/connect.
Minnesota Independence College and Community (MICC) is a nonprofit post-high school vocational and life skills training program for autistic and neurodivergent adults. Since its founding in 1996, MICC has remained dedicated to helping participants make successful transitions towards independent living, self-sufficiency and true belonging.
Through hands-on learning, education, support, and resources, MICC participants achieve sustained, independent living, rewarding employment, financial security, personal growth and responsible citizenship. For more information about MICC, visit https://www.miccommunity.org/
For interviews with MICC team members, please contact Ella Carlsson, Red Mood Marketing at 612.805.0572, email@example.com