Category Archives: Social Enterprise

Self-Employment as a Transition Tool: Meet JennyLuDesigns

One employment approach for young adults with disabilities should include exploring self-employment.  Tapping into strengths and talents, desires and interests, self-employment may be the niche for many people who otherwise might experience difficulty in securing competitive employment.

Meet Jenny Unrein and her stepmother, Wendi, who together have created JennyLu Designs featuring their artwork. The work is sold online and at art shows and conferences.  Jenny and Wendi organize “fun raisers” for various causes, including cancer and Williams Syndrome.

JennyLU Designs is a new business featuring artwork of Jenny and Wendi Unrein. Jenny has Williams Syndrome and is an artist who loves vibrant colors and passionate expressions.[from the JennyLuDesigns facebook page]

Visit JennyLU Designs here.

Kansas School Creates Greeting Card Business

A satellite school for special education students in Riverton, Kansas has developed a business project where students with disabilities are gaining skills for post secondary employment, according to an article in The Joplin Globe, January 23, 2014.

When Riverton High School special-education teacher Matt DeMoss came up with an idea for a new program, he figured it would take a year for students to learn it, adjust to it and begin thriving.

“In reality, we had to catch up to the kids’ progress. They’re now teaching one another,” he said Thursday morning as they got busy.

The students are running their own business, called 323 MFG. The 323 references their classroom, and MFG stands for manufacturing.

Their product?

“Greeting cards,” said senior Bella Stemm as she carefully ironed a 5- by 7-inch piece of wet, hand-created pink paper.

“This is my favorite part to do,” she said.

….DeMoss, who is in his second year of teaching in Riverton, said he wanted to start something hands-on for his students that would engage them and could be tied to as many curriculum areas as possible.

“They’re following written and verbal instructions, reading job tickets, doing math, handling money,” he said.

It’s also improving their communication skills and teamwork abilities.

“They probably all will end up after high school with Class Ltd.,” DeMoss said. “My goal while they were in high school, just like any other teacher, was to get them ready for that post-secondary career.”

Read the article here.

Going to the dogs: Autism program at Williams produces canine treats for sale

Times-News post , November 26, 2013 (be sure to click the right arrow at the bottom of each page to read the entire article).

A couple days a week, the smell of baking and cinnamon wafts down the second floor hall at Williams High School.

“When we walk down the hall, all the kids stick their heads out and say, ‘I want one,’” said Jennifer Hogg, teacher assistant with the school’s autism program. “And I say, ‘They’re dog bones.’”

They look surprised and lose interest, Hogg said.

The six students in Williams’ autism program mix the dough in their large classroom, roll it, cut it into Christmas or dog-friendly shapes, and hustle it down the hall to the oven in the food lab to bake.

It is a funny thing, said teacher John Osborne, since they had a hard time selling cookies last year. People would eat one cookie, but were too weight conscious to buy more. They get excited about dog treats, though.

While senior Tyson Haith starts mixing the dough, Zach Farrington puts the baked and cooled bones into a box with six squares drawn on it, one in each square. He puts them in clear plastic bags, and ties them with silver twist ties. Jaiquese Pinnix helps with the packaging and places them in a laundry basket. Each bag has the name of the person who ordered them.

Continue reading here.

Roses for Autism

Roses For Autism is a social enterprise that fosters the thoughtful transition of individuals with Autism to meaningful employment and personal success.

Through the Discover Learn Work career training service, individuals discover their unique strengths, learn the necessary technical skills and social competence, and gain valued work experience at the dynamic Roses For Autism business so that they can obtain employment and be successful in their chosen careers!

According to a September 2013 Huffington Post Article with Tom Fanning (President and CEO of Ability Beyond Disability, the parent organization of Roses for Autism),

“There have been amazing changes in the confidence levels of many of the adults that work at Roses For Autism. While here, they have learned how to be part of a team, utilize the transferable skills they have been taught, advocate for themselves and even mentor others who are just starting in their career paths. Each individual recognizes that their contribution is essential to the success of the entire operation.

We have also witnessed increased independence in other aspects of their lives which we believe is due to the personal growth and success that they have achieved here. Some of our employees have obtained driver’s licenses, moved into their own apartments, pursued college level education and obtained secure, permanent employment in careers of their choice.”

Continue reading here.