EnCircle Technologies is celebrating their fifth anniversary and looking at plans for a merger.
*Editor’s Note: Woodhaven announced a merger with EnCircle Technologies on August 9, 2018.
EnCircle Technologies will soon announce a merger aimed at strengthening their already successful program of teaching technology skills to students on the autism spectrum.
“Our private pay system has been a barrier to many students, and as we try to keep the costs down, we’ve had to operate on a shoestring budget,” says Teri Walden, Encircle Technologies’ executive director. “However, when we merge with a larger agency, this will change.”
Walden reports that EnCircle Technologies has raised enough money this year to stay operating, but the future isn’t as certain, which is the reason for the merger.
Direct service is expensive, Walden said. Tuition helps pay for the costs of a location; software for classes covering WordPress, HTML/CSS, Adobe Photoshop, video production, Excel Basic and data entry; and staff and teachers. Tuition aid is available.
The pending merger could lower tuition costs as well as stabilize efforts, she said. It may also provide a better ability for EnCircle to serve individuals with technology talents. Walden said she would like to expand from serving only autistic students to providing help for others with different types of barriers to education.
Merger and Sustainability
After a record high of 30 students enrolled in their programs last year, this year is a pull-back “toward merger and sustainability,” Walden says. EnCircle is currently helping students find work and they plan to have seven students in this fall. “We hope to have a full house again in 2019,” she says.
Many people with disabilities have an interest in and aptitudes for technology, but “an active advocate is really needed for them to find jobs,” Walden explains. Taught the basic skills to succeed, she notes, “They find they are not limited by their own strengths.”
One in 59 individuals have autism; 50,000 individuals with autism graduate from high school each year. Only 37 percent have received vocational training, and 85 percent are unemployed.
Stats Speak Success
Walden reported the following accomplishments for its donors and clients since EnCircle formed in 2013:
- 41 students served with 100 percent receiving vocational training in technology and soft skills either on a work track or supplemental skills track.
- 15 young adults who were seeking work found jobs directly through EnCircle or other vocational rehabilitation partners.
- 11 junior high or high school students were given vocational training before secondary graduation.
- Three individuals who were already employed added supplementary skills for their jobs.
- Four individuals used EnCircle as a bridge to higher education.
- Two students started their own business using skills learned at EnCircle.
- Some students took one class to build skills for a project or to enhance knowledge.
- 100 percent of EnCircle students experienced a learning community and an opportunity to be part of various social events to improve social connection.
Into the Future
Additional funding would allow EnCircle to “increase the number of work-ready students as we connect to vocational rehabilitation services which will fund student’s training and give us a supported channel for job placement,” Walden says.
“We can place more students in jobs and provide integrated life care to help with social connectedness. We can continue to provide a bridge to work, higher education, or to entrepreneurship,” she adds.
Stay tuned for more information on the merger.