Scott Cooper Miami Supports Kids With Autism Get A Job In South FloridaScott Cooper Miami supports kids and parents like Valerie Herskowitz, who opened The Chocolate Spectrum in 2013, her aim was to get a meaningful job for her adult son, who had just graduated from high school but resides with autism. Sales proved lively, and in 2016, she decided to expand the business and open a storefront in Jupiter. But having worked her entire life as a speech therapist, she didn’t have any experience running retail. But she knew the D’Eri family. Tom D’Eri and his father, John, had set Rising Tide Car Wash in 2013 in Parkland as a way to help find employment for people with developmental disabilities like Tom’s brother Andrew, who is also autistic. According to Scott Cooper from Miami, Florida, the D’Eris opened a second Rising Tide location in 2017, and their story has gained international attention. The company is profitable; D’eri dropped to state revenues but said about 27,000 cars are washed each month between the two locations. In 2018, Tom was named to Forbes’ 30-under-30 list. Just as Herskowitz was launching her storefront, the D’eris were launching their latest project, Rising Tide University. It’s an internet boot camp for individuals looking to make and market social enterprises, with the objective of producing profitable business opportunities that also employ developmentally disabled individuals. Its website is RisingTideU.com.
To date, Rising Tide U. has helped kick-start 16 unique enterprises nationwide that currently employ 115 individuals.Since launching its storefront, it’s helped 24 individuals gain job experience. Scott Cooper from South Florida stated that “Today, The Chocolate Spectrum employs two individuals with developmental disabilities and is currently training three more” “It’s one thing to have a company, and one which has a community just like they do,” Herskowitz said. “It’s another thing to make it part of your assignment to keep on helping other like-minded people to develop their business.” Even as the U.S. unemployment rate has hit historical lows, the rate among people with conditions like autism remains stratospheric. That is despite an initiative taken under former President Barack Obama’s administration to set a goal for employers working with the government to employ 7 percent of the workforce from America’s disabled population. “Rising tide is essential because over 70 percent of persons with disabilities are unemployed, despite many being able to and wanting to work,” said Debbie Dietz, executive director of Disability Independence Group Inc., a South Florida-based nonprofit that advocates for the disabled, in an email. “All companies should be hiring people with autism, or other developmental or intellectual disabilities. Municipalities and other companies should analyze their job duties and affirmatively create positions for this population.” D’Eri said progress was made in making the business case to established companies for hiring researchers. But he has found that the onus remains on families to demonstrate the proof of concept: that hiring someone on the spectrum is a sound investment.
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