It is with great pride that we can reveal that Specialisterne Foundation, Inc. has now formed in the USA. Incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware. The foundation will drive and support the adoption of the Specialisterne model across the United States, and carry out fundraising to facilitate the global drive to enable one million jobs for people with autism and similar challenges.
Furthermore, Specialisterne Minnesota has also become an official entity, which will bring the Specialisterne model into the state of Minnesota. Specialisterne Minnesota is headquartered in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, with Local Coordinator Tim Hanson already working hard on fund-raising and business planning activities.
“Our plan is to model Specialisterne Minnesota as a consulting practice with a compelling portfolio of capabilities similar to that of Specialisterne Denmark,” says Hanson, a successful local businessman and the father of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “Like Denmark, we will assess and train people with autism and similar challenges, and then employ them as consultants providing valuable services to corporate clients in sectors including technology, IT, telecommunications and software.”
The US market is ripe for Specialisterne (The Specialists in Danish). According to the US Census Bureau, the population of the USA is 310 million. Research suggests that approximately 1% (3.1 million people) have ASD, 90% of whom are unemployed.
“There is so much opportunity for us in the US to create meaningful and productive lives for the growing number of people diagnosed with ASD,” says Thorkil Sonne. “We are confident that our seven years plus of operational experience in Specialisterne, combined with local partners adoption of the Specialisterne model will bring about a change in the US. And with Tim at the helm, we are confident that Specialisterne Minnesota will be a shining example of how the Specialisterne model can be adapted successfully throughout the US. This is a major step in our efforts to reach our goal of enabling one million jobs globally for people with autism and similar challenges, and we are thrilled about partnering with Tim and his team.”
Hanson has already assembled a team of business professionals and autism experts with the goal of establishing Specialisterne Minnesota as the gold standard for in the US.
“I believe that Minnesota is the perfect entry point for Specialisterne in the US. The business climate here is healthy and we are home to a large number of Fortune 500 companies,” says Hanson. “The social climate here is also encouraging, as Minnesota is the national leader in providing opportunities and services to individuals with special needs. Last but not least, the employment climate is ripe with a significant need for skilled technical employees.”
Although Specialisterne Minnesota plan to replicate the Danish model as much as possible, some modifications are necessary. The ongoing work to complete a comprehensive feasibility study will identify the specific conditions needed to make Specialisterne Minnesota a successful, self-sustaining consulting practice providing high-quality IT professionals to the market while employing people with autism.
As Thorkil Sonne is an Ashoka Globalizer, Specialisterne Minnesota will also benefit from the support of the Ashoka Localizer Program.
“”The mission of our Localizer program is to ensure our community has access to the best social innovations from the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. By connecting Thorkil Sonne with local community leaders, we showcase the Twin City’s long-standing commitment to hosting and nurturing innovative solutions that have the potential for ground-breaking positive change,” Said Jennifer Aspengren, Director, Ashoka Twin Cities
Specialisterne Minnesota plan to launch business operations in early 2012 with the first round of candidate assessment starting soon after. For more information, follow this link.