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The Els for Autism Foundation® Team Receives Million Dollar Grant to Launch the U CAN EMPLOY™ Initiative

The Els for Autism Foundation team has been awarded a multi-year million-dollar grant from Make Waves Foundation to develop and launch the U Can Employ initiative.

The Make Waves Foundation empowers and supports youth and adults with neurological, intellectual, and physical challenges that defy expectations. “In the next ten years, a half million individuals with autism will transition into adulthood. We are proud to support the U Can Employ initiative that will set companies up for success to employ individuals with autism,” says Donna Roth, Founder and Director, Make Waves Family Foundation. “Our goal is to support people with autism and other developmental disabilities so they can live meaningful, happy lives and be productive, valued community members.”

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of Make Waves Foundation and their leadership in paving the way to further establishing an inclusive workplace for people with ASD,” said Dr. Marlene Sotelo, Executive Director, Els for Autism. “Through the U Can Employ initiative, we aim to increase employment opportunities for individuals with ASD by providing the necessary training, consultation, and support to companies looking to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

The U Can Employ initiative is a significant step in creating a more inclusive workplace, as investors and shareholders increasingly recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in environmental, social, and governance investing. In addition, research has found that companies already employing individuals with disabilities report an 89% higher retention rate, a 72% increase in employee productivity, and a 28% increase in profitability.

This groundbreaking program will provide direct training, support, and consultation to large and small companies interested in recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and retaining employees with ASD. Furthermore, this program will be accessible to companies of all sizes through varying tiered membership services, including free access to downloadable tools and webinars.

The first U Can Employ pilot site launched with Next Level Distribution, a distributor of consumer electronics and 12V products this month. A second pilot with SBA Communications Corporation, a leading independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure, including towers, buildings, rooftops, distributed antenna systems (DAS), and small cells, is set to launch this fall. The specialized group of consultants, powered by the Els for Autism team, will work closely with both companies to provide consultation to their HR team to recruit, hire, onboard, and retain employees with autism and related disabilities.

For more information about the U Can Employ initiative, please contact the Els for Autism team at