Crowdfunding campaign aims to open coffee shop where individuals with autism can work

Washington D.C. — Laura Pickard started crowdfunding in hopes of being able to open a coffee shop that will employ individuals with autism.

Today, only an estimated 16.8 percent of individuals with disabilities are currently working. As the number of individuals diagnosed with autism rise each year, and as time flies and many individuals with the developmental condition reach the age where the services stop— many remain unemployed.

Pickard, who is a principal at a special education school in D.C., hopes to change that by creating a place where they can be employed. So far, she was able to raise $10,000 out of her goal of $95,000. Pickard is optimistic that Independent Grounds coffee shop will soon be a reality.

About 20 miles away, in Fairfax, a shop named Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates stands. Their motto says: “We don’t hire people to make chocolates, we make chocolates to hire people.” Pickard decided to pay them a visit as part of her research.

The owners, Jim and Ellen Graham, decided to open the shop two years ago so that their daughter, Cameron, and others like her, can have a place to work.

Today, Cameron’s Coffee and Chocolates has 12 employees on the spectrum, who work side by side with parallel workers and job coaches. According to Mrs. Graham:

“I think we are good for the community and the community is good for us.”

Source: Jennifer Davis: FOX 5 Local News: Organization raising money for coffee shop designed to employ students with autism