Autism Shifts has met their fundraising goal of $105,000 to launch a Artistas Mobile Cafe. Autism Shifts is a local 501(c)3 foundation whose mission is to shift the outcome for those touched by Autism through employment, independent living and community integration.
“We want to thank the Tampa Bay community for the many donations, sponsorships and volunteer offers we’ve already received. We want to especially thank the kind donor, who has selected to remain anonymous, whose donation helped closed the gap on our $105,000 goal to make Artistas Mobile Café a reality,” says Vicky Westra, Chairman of Autism Shifts. “Our Artistas Mobile Café will help us broaden our ability to communicate the benefits of hiring individuals on the autism spectrum and be a major driver towards making Tampa Bay the first Autism-Ready community. We are planning to have our Mobile Café on the road during the first part of 2018”.
Nationally, one in 68 people are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, 50,000 young people with autism are turning 18 each year and roughly 90% of those will be unemployed. These statistics inspired Autism Shifts to establish the Artistas Café concept, a first of its kind business where young adults, diagnosed with autism, learn to be successful frontline employees. Autism Shifts training help these young adults develop social, communication and multi-tasking skills and how to best use their unique talents and abilities.
Westra opened Artistas Café and her related employment and emotional training program to close some of the gaps that exist for people with Autism as they age out of the school system. The Autism Shifts training program was developed in conjunction with the job of Barista at Artistas Café, however, the foundation of the training can be applied to other types of careers that match the many “Uniqabilities” that are inherent to many more young adults diagnosed with Autism.
“We’ve set our next financial goal at $1.5 Million to allow us to create more “Pathways to Employment” for people diagnosed with Autism. In order to create these opportunities, Autism Shifts has partnered with several organizations including a Medical company that has contracted their services to provide Fulfillment (packing/shipping) and customer service and an Animation Company that will allow them to open an animation school here in Tampa Bay. In addition, the program will also expand to include Culinary, Social Media, Videography, Graphic Design and IT and Administrative roles. “With all of these new opportunities for training, we have outgrown our current space and will need to find a new home, including the capital improvements that can allow us to accommodate not only the training aspects of the program, but also all the jobs that it will create”, said Westra.
“In order for us to expand our program, we are asking for the community to “Join the Shift” for Autism. Ways you can join are to make a donation, become a sponsor, mentor, volunteer or an Autism Ready Business, Partner so that you can experience the benefit of hiring this talented and dedicated market of employees.. Please check out our calendar of events, stop by, call 813.251-2787 or visit https://www.autismshifts.org to sign up or get more details.
Autism Shifts is focused on shifting the outcome for people diagnosed with Autism through career training and employment; independent living and community integration to create an Autism-Ready community.