Providing life skills and tools for youth with disabilities.
Graduating from high school can be both an exciting and unnerving time for young adults. For those on the Autism spectrum, though, it can be much more daunting.
With a very small percentage going on to college, most look to enter the workforce. However, many young adults with autism are often unprepared to work, or live independently. In fact, according to the US Department of Education, within four years of graduating from high school, less than half are employed. As few as 32% are currently working for pay.
When traditional careers or continued educational options like college or trade schools are not the right fit, many young adults on the spectrum become socially isolated and depressed. Up to 87% continue to live at home with their parents. And about one in four haven’t had contact with anyone outside their family for over a year.
The Minnesota Independence College and Community (MICC) believes there can be another way.
Formerly the Minnesota Life College, the nonprofit provides a three-year program that prepares young adults with learning disabilities for all the challenges they’ll encounter in life, including employment, housing, public transportation, friendships, community involvement and wellness. By focusing on the skills needed for independent living and financial self-sufficiency, the school gives students the opportunity to discover their full potential and live a vibrant life.
Students at MICC live in apartments with three roommates and go to classes within either retail, hospitality or culinary certificate programs. With students living and studying on campus, they learn life skills both at home and at work. Plus, MICC provides over 80 structured social activities every month, like movie nights or trips to see a Minnesota Twins game.
The results are impressive. Ninety-nine percent of eligible MICC job seekers are employed. Of overall graduates, 82% participate in two or three social activities every month and 90% are employed and living in their own apartment.
MICC doesn’t just prepare its students for graduation, they provide lifelong support and resources for alumni.
Andeavor’s partnership with MICC goes beyond charitable investment. In addition to providing financial support to the organization’s vocational education programs, Andeavor also employs graduates of MICC to work at SUPERAMERICA retail stations.