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New Phoenix job center offers internships for young people on autism spectrum

Arizona Autism Charter Schools (AZACS) network.
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Arizona Autism Charter Schools (AZACS) network.

The Arizona Autism Charter Schools (AZACS) network opened a new job training center Tuesday. It will offer career-readiness programs to older high school students and young adults on the autism spectrum.

There are four real businesses at Essential Piece Enterprises on Indian School Road in Phoenix: a coffee shop, a silk screening store, a shipping and receiving store, and a tech repair and coding design studio.

Students and young adults can work the equivalent of an unpaid internship at one of those businesses, then go on to make their own money. Warner Baum just graduated from high school at AZACS.

“I am excited about this because to me, it feels like it’s a great expansion to our AZACS campus,” Baum. “I’m planning on working here at some time.”

AZACS is also partnering with businesses like Raytheon, Banner Health, and UHaul to provide apprenticeship opportunities to students.

“It will be great to learn something new,” Baum. “Trust me, I do enjoy learning about all sorts of jobs. Just give me a head start!”

AZACS founder Diana Diaz-Harrison said the center is intended to help with a services cliff that people with disabilities face after graduating high school.

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Senior field correspondent Bridget Dowd has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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