Yes She Can Inc. was founded by Marjorie Madfis, a mother of a teen girl with autism, after retiring from a 30 year career in corporate marketing. The nonprofit organization was incorporated in New York State on November 26, 2013. With the help of Pro Bono Partnership, Yes She Can Inc. received IRS tax exemption status under code 501 (c) (3).
The mission of Yes She Can is to help teen girls and young women with autism spectrum disorders to develop transferable job skills to enable them to join the competitive workforce and achieve greater independence.
Only 20% of adults with ASD have a job.
And that those that do get jobs have difficulty keeping them, mostly due to the lack of job training and supports that meet their specific needs. Yet, holding a job is especially important for people with autism. A job can provide greater independence, a sense of purpose and belonging.
Very few businesses, both large and small, make any effort to hire people with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Furthermore, while people with autism may have the skills to perform the job, they are lacking the workplace social skills and resilience to keep the job. Often in the workplace, fitting is trumps competence.
Clearly there is a need to develop job skills and workplace social skills for people with autism in a safe and accommodating workplace where training is the key mission, rather than maximizing profits. However the training must be in a realistic environment that replicates conventional for-profit businesses, and where functional skills are transferable to traditional business enterprises.
Furthermore, there is a need to demonstrate success with employment of people with autism, to create models for training and human resource management, and for integration and inclusion with “typical” employees.
Within autism support services, women are an undeserved population, given that 75% of those diagnosed with autism are male. Women have different presentations of the disability and have different behavioral and social challenges than men. And they experience different societal expectations and pressures.
Yes She Can seeks to increase the number of women with autism employed in jobs where they can leverage their talents and interests, and to sustain their employment, just like anyone else.
In addition we strive to make the community, businesses, and employees more accommodating, accepting, inclusive and respectful of people with autism in the workforce.
- To leverage unique interests, expertise or skills of our target population that can be used in a sustainable businesses, with particular focus on products and services for which there is market demand.
- To develop competitive workplace skills including social skills to support the business operation that can be transferable to other businesses or organizations.
- To enable trainees to qualify for competitive employment, become hired and sustain employment.
- To increase trainees daily living skills and ability to live more independently (ie less social service support.)
- To create and operate a portfolio of non-profit businesses that will support the Yes She Can mission and serve both people with autism and without disabilities matching their interests with market demand. (The first of which is Girl AGain).
- To create training methods and tools that utilize technology, and are designed with the autistic person’s approach to learning.
- To create a model that can be replicated by other individuals or organizations.
- To create awareness of the advantages of employing people with autism when matching their skills to the right job.
To execute the objectives we need to create an incubator, an authentic business enterprise that offers products or services that meet market demand and that mimics a for-profit business in a competitive market, but has to have some controlling features such as:
- generates revenue to cover overhead (rent, utilities, etc.)
- does not require the most efficient and productive workforce
- that has flexibility for work hours
- that can be responsive to unplanned teachable moments and make teachable opportunities
- that incorporates job coaching from different providers
- that includes people without disabilities to function as models for “natural” supports
- allow for volunteers to work to keep costs down
- collaborate with school districts on internships
- obtain grants and donations to support the program
- provide a social support place for women with autism to connect with each other after hours