Coding Autism: The Future of Autism Employment
Helping empower autistics to reach their maximum potential in their careers, studies, and lives.
Coding Autism is committed to solving the following problems.
1.) The 80% un/underemployment rate of autistic adults despite their academic credentials, intellectual capabilities, and skill sets.
2.) The large number of unfilled technology positions due to a lack of talent/qualified applicants that don't consider people on the autism spectrum as qualified applicants. Estimated to be around 1M job vacancies in tech by 2020, not including jobs that we don't even have titles for yet.
3.) The lack of quality educational/training resources available specifically for people with autism after high school.
Through Coding Autism, we are building the first autism specialized coding academy, pairing online coding education, community, and an autism savvy support team to help transition autistic talent into our technology workforce. We provide project-based and in-demand coding curriculum, experienced mentors and career counselors, and on-call tutoring and soft skills support to help provide autistic students an alternative form of education that is catered to their strengths.
How Will Our Solution Change the World
Given that autism prevalence is on the rise and that technology is evolving at an unprecedented rate, it is inevitable that the workforce of the future will have to adapt to hiring autistic talent for technology roles. When analyzing autistic talent, we realize that the characteristics of autistics such as meticulous attention to detail, knack for repetitious tasks, the ability to hyper-focus on tasks, and analytical thinking are all key components of what it takes to be a successful coder.
By providing a technology platform to facilitate autism specialized coding instruction, we are creating a solution that offers pathways for autistics to up-skill, re-skill, or re-train in in-demand coding languages. Through innovative partnerships, we are able to then pipe-line autistic talent derived from our academies into technology companies that have an interest in diversifying their existing workforce with trained and quality autistic employees.
Through our efforts, we are creating opportunities to propel the autism community forward and changes the world for the better.
Watch our elevator pitch:
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Los Angeles, CA, USA
The dimensions of the Challenge our solution addresses:
If you selected other, please explain the dimension of the Challenge your solution addresses here:
What makes our solution innovative:
Many articles and research studies have proven that the characteristics of autistics are well equipped for technology related roles and that companies that have formal autism hiring initiatives like SAP and Microsoft have been incredibly successful. However, there are very limited coding training processes and initiatives that specifically focus on training our autistic population.
Through our innovative process of autism specialized coding instruction, we are equipping autistics with the necessary training and support required to adapt and provide value to our evolving technology sector.
How technology is integral to our solution:
Through our online coding portal, autistics can access our course offerings from anywhere around the globe with WiFi and a laptop. Through our online full-time webinar based instruction or our online part-time self-paced curriculum through our online coding portal, autistics throughout the spectrum can learn coding at a professional level and in turn successfully secure employment within the technology industry.
Our solution goals over the next 12 months:
1.) Complete our pilot program and secure employment for our autistic students in program.
2.) Enroll at least 500 autistic adults throughout the U.S into our online part-time and full-time coding academies.
3.) Develop coding programs for blockchain, VR, AR, machine learning, cybersecurity, and quality assurance.
4.) Develop mutually beneficial partnerships with major technology corporations, Regional Centers, Vocational Rehabilitation Centers, Department of Labor, and autism non-profits.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our solution to affect the lives of more people:
Once we can validate the successful outcomes of our programs, it will become easier to establish relationships with local government agencies, corporations, and other organizations that allocate funding and resources for companies providing vocational training opportunities for autistics adults. Utilizing these relationships will allow the company to scale rapidly and significantly impact the lives of autistic adults, who are struggling with 80% un/underemployment. Our immediate strategy would focus on solidifying these relationships in the U.S, but over the next 3-5 years we will transition to expanding globally We will also develop programs catered to autistic teenagers and children as well.
The key characteristics of the populations who will benefit from our solution in the next 12 months:
The regions where we will be operating in the next 12 months:
The countries where we currently operate:
Where we plan to expand in the next 12 months:
How we will reach and retain our customers or beneficiaries:
Our solution would be deployed through our online coding platform, which is accessible to anyone with wifi and a computer. By simply creating an account in the portal, autistic students can log in at anytime and take our free 50+ hour coding prep course. If students decide to pay to enroll into the course, they will get additional access to the coursework provided in the coding portal.
How many people we are currently serving with our solution:
We are currently serving 5 autistic adults in our pilot program. We decided to take on a small cohort as it is our first program and wanted to work out the kinks in our program prior to scaling our programs to its fullest capacity. Three of the students paid to enroll into our part-time online program while the other two enrolled into our full-time program. Students learn coding through our curriculum that is facilitated by coding instructors and teachers assistants and supplemented by our 1-1 soft skills and career counseling training.
How many people we will be serving with our solution in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
According to Autism Speaks, there are roughly 4 million autistic Americans, 3 million being children and 1 million being adults. Within this population, roughly 500,000 autistic teenagers will age into adults in the next 10 years, which are currently experiencing a 80-90% un/underemployment rate despite their academic credentials, intellectual capabilities, and skill-sets. However, this population is actively seeking opportunities to learn valuable skills to obtain meaningful employment.
Stating the above, with our autism specialized online coding programs, we expect to serve 500 autistic adults within the next 12 months and over 5000 in the next 3 years.
How our solution team is organized:For-Profit
How many people work on our solution team:3
How many years we have been working on our solution:1-2 years
The skills our solution team has that will enable us to attract the different resources needed to succeed and make an impact:
Our team has various skills ranging from corporate partnerships, marketing, and coding but we would say that Coding Autism's greatest strength is our storytelling ability. When it comes to making an impact and persuading others to support your vision, it's imperative that you can articulate your vision in a way to drive action and build resources. Given that our CEO Oliver Thornton is autistic himself and built Coding Autism based off of his passion of advocating for creating meaningful career opportunities for all autistics, we have been able to leverage this attribute to secure resources for Coding Autism.
Our revenue model:
Our primary revenue stream comes from coding bootcamp tuition from autistic learners from our part-time ($10,000/student) and full-time ($13,500/student) online coding academies. Our supplementary revenue streams come from our soft skills workshops, re-skill/up-skill/re-train programs, college counseling services, and career counseling services.
One major advantage of our business model is that because we tailor specifically to autistic learners, there are various channels such as Regional Centers, the Department of Labor, government grants, Vocational Rehabilitation Centers, etc that can help subsidize tuition costs for students to enroll into our programs. According to Autism Speaks and Forbes, roughly 80-90% of all autistic adults are either un/underemployed and seeking different initiatives to learn new skills to secure employment and that there are roughly 4M autistic Americans. With vocational training program funding (ex. California investing $200M in 2017 into vocational training initiatives) and autism prevalence and awareness on the rise, there are more incentives for autistics to receive funding to enroll into training programs like Coding Autism. This increases our profitability as a program based on additional enrolled students with guaranteed income which supplements our expansion and long-term sustainability efforts.
Why we are applying to Solve:
Our two goals for Coding Autism is 1.) Improving the quality of life for people with Autism through education and employment, and 2.) To start shifting the conversation worldwide to Autism and neurodiversity being "different" and "talented" instead of "disabled". As a growing start-up, we believe that having open dialogue and collaborating with the "change leaders" from the MIT Solve community is an excellent resource for us to use to accomplish our goals. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
The key barriers for our solution:
Two key barriers for our solution would be 1.) if companies failed to adapt to the positive trend of hiring neurodiverse talent, and 2.) If we failed to secure funding and partnerships from companies, non-profit organizations, and government organizations (regional center, Dept. of Labor, etc.). By collaborating and learning from MIT Solve’s robust community of “change leaders”, and utilizing resources from the MIT Solve community, we are in a better position to overcome our key barriers and make a positive impact for autistic workers.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Solvers:
- Beth Brennan, Ph.D. Associate Dean, California Lutheran University
- Ian Earley Director of Career Counseling and Technical Mentorship, Coding Autism
- Mr Michael Fieldhouse Director - Emerging Business & Cybersecurity, DXC Technology
- AG Alon Goren Advisor, Coding Autism
- Greg Monterrosa Advisor, Coding Autism
- Mike Panesis Executive Director, Center for Entrepreneurship, California Lutheran University
- Edlyn Peña 5228145 Associate Professor and C0-Director of Autism and Communication Center, California Lutheran University
- Oliver Thornton CEO and Founder, Coding Autism
- Mellissa Toler Director of Soft Skills, Coding Autism