Sunday, June 23, 2024

Arizona Autism Charter Schools to open Entrepreneurial Training Center – Chamber Business News

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Arizona Autism Charter Schools next week will open a new Entrepreneurial Training Center as part of an effort to better prepare high school students and young adults on the autism spectrum for their future careers. 

Four social enterprise businesses will operate out of the center: a coffee shop, a silk screening and retail shop, a shipping and receiving store, and a tech repair and coding design studio. These ventures, known as Essential Piece Enterprises, will provide students with critical job skills in a supportive environment. 

AZACS Founder and Executive Director Diana Diaz was inspired to start the first school in 2014 due to the lack of quality school options for her son Sammy. Now that Sammy and many other students are graduating from the K-12 school, Diana is excited to expand its transition programming with the new Essential Piece Enterprises. 

“These four community-facing businesses – the cafe, the silk screening shop, the shipping and receiving store, and the tech studio – are not just businesses, they are a game-changer for our community, providing high school and adults on the spectrum with the opportunity to acquire job skills in an innovative, safe, and supportive setting,” Diaz said. “We’re excited to launch this program and watch it change the trajectory of young adults on the spectrum, and we invite you to be a part of this exciting journey.” 

The project was achieved through a collaboration with the Charter Schools Development Corporation and funding from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. SD Crane Builders, a charter long-time partner, oversaw the build to ensure that the facilities are state-of-the-art. 

“The creation of the Entrepreneurial Training Center will provide AZACS students with a top-notch educational facility, ensuring they are prepared for success in the workforce,” said Laura Fiemann, chief development officer for the Charter Schools Development Corp.

AZACS has a record of innovation in education. Over the past decade, it has opened five campuses and received national recognition, including winning the Yass Prize in 2022, a highly sought recognition that honors excellence in educational organizations. 

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