The Center for Neurodiversity & Employment Innovation

The Center for Neurodiversity & Employment Innovation

Unemployment for neurodivergent adults runs at least as high as 30-40% which is three times the rate for people with disability, and eight times the rate for people without disability. Exact figures are unknown because there are few resources that track the specifics of unemployment among a wide range of neurodiversity, not just autism but also ADHD, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and many other neurological differences. Unfortunately, in many cases the research needed for developing these statistics does not exist yet. However, even at the most conservative of estimates, millions of neurodivergent adults are struggling to find meaningful employment that allows them to live independent, fulfilling lives.

UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation seeks to lead. The center will develop and share the critical innovations necessary to improve employment outcomes for neurodivergent adults and the companies that employ them.

Defining Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity refers to the concept that differences in brain functioning within the human population are normal, and that brain functioning that is not “neurotypical” should not be stigmatized or excluded. People with autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia and other neurological differences are collectively referred to as neurodivergent individuals.

The Employment Challenge

Neurodivergent adults who are eager to work professionally are often left out of the workforce or forced into lower skill jobs for a variety of reasons - non-inclusive hiring and retention practices, lack of employer education and training, absence of support ecosystems on the job, and skill differences or needs that often do not align with standard business operations all contribute to the problem.

Employers Tapping New Talent

Organizations have begun recognizing the value of hiring neurodivergent individuals. Their ability to approach problems differently and bring innovative solutions and ideas to the table creates real value. Moreover, increased levels of morale for all employees within an organization is often a result of greater levels of diversity and inclusivity. Lower turnover, higher productivity and better overall employee engagement create a compelling ROI story for companies pursuing a neurodiverse workforce.


Get Involved

Neurodivergent Student and Alumni Job Seekers:

Job Search Coaching and Support
Navigating the job search process is tough for any student, but for those with autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and other neurological differences the task is even more challenging. The Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation provides neurodivergent (ND) students with specialized 1-1 coaching around pursuing internship and employment opportunities with organizations who understand and support neurodiversity.

Neurodivergent-Friendly Hiring Platforms Pilot Program
UConn students are invited to participate in this pilot program that supports them in exploring the benefits and effectiveness of ND-friendly hiring platforms that support the needs of ND job seekers. Leveraging artificial intelligence, community-driven design, and the latest technologies, these platforms provide an integrated solution for ND job and internship candidates interested in “matching” with employers that promote, support, and seek neurodiverse talent.

Neurodiversity Internship Pilot Program
Work experience is key to securing full-time employment after graduation, yet many ND college students struggle to manage the search for internships alongside their academic demands, and fewer can identify opportunities with organizations that understand and support ND employees. UConn students are invited to participate in this pilot program that matches internship candidates with area employers who have expressed a commitment to building a culture and systems that support ND employees.

Get Involved

Employers Seeking Neurodivergent Talent:

Nationwide Talent Pipeline of Neurodivergent College Students:
UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation is excited to announce the University Council for Neurodiversity Employment. The University Council’s goal is for colleges and universities to work collectively and proactively to build a robust nationwide talent pipeline of neurodivergent (ND) college students. The council aims to produce ND college graduates who are better prepared for employment and more accessible to employers in need of their talents, and to utilize a standardized process for inclusive recruiting across member schools.

Neurodiversity Training and Education
More and more companies are discovering the value of including ND talent in their hiring strategies, yet many employers are unsure where to start or need help growing their programs. Companies are invited to engage the center to outline goals and objectives, understand the business case for neurodiversity inclusion at their organization, and scope out the implications of different options.

Neurodivergent-Friendly Hiring Platforms Pilot Program
Employers are invited to participate in this pilot program that enables organizations to explore the benefits and effectiveness of ND-friendly hiring platforms that provide employer education in neurodiversity recruiting and a supply of ND candidates for their open positions. Leveraging artificial intelligence, community-driven design, and the latest technologies, these platforms provide an integrated solution for employers interested in receiving a list of candidates that “match” their positions’ needs and organization’s support systems.

Neurodiversity Internship Pilot Program
Many companies are interested in considering ND candidates for their internship needs, but it can be resource-intensive to learn how to design programs and structure supports. Employers are invited to participate in this pilot program that provides employers with customized coaching throughout the internship process to help them design their internship roles, source candidates, and manage the program once it is underway. This is an excellent opportunity for companies to start small and grow their initiatives.

Get Involved

Universities and Colleges:

UConn’s Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation is excited to announce the University Council for Neurodiversity Employment founded in partnership with KPMG. The University Council’s goal is to work collectively to build a nationwide talent pipeline of ND college students who are better prepared for employment and more accessible to employers seeking their talent, and which utilizes a standardized process for inclusive recruiting across member schools. The council is open to all colleges and universities across the country committed to improving neurodiversity inclusion in employment for their student graduates.

Get Involved

Opportunities

To register for all Neurodiversity hiring opportunities contact: Judy.Reilly@uconn.edu

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Neurodiversity Hiring Program

Majors: All majors welcome

  • Individuals are assessed for enthusiasm, interest, and aptitude regardless of their major

Neurodiversity: Learning differences

  • ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, executive functioning weaknesses and other neurological differences

100% support during & after hiring

  • Low-stress, non-traditional interview process
  • Individualized feedback provided
  • Option to re-interview
  • Work with managers who understand and value your differences
  • Continuous post-hire mentorship and support
  • Job locations throughout the U.S. - supported relocation

Hiring events every other month throughout 2022-2023

For more information about open positions in the Wells Fargo Neurodiversity Employment Program, please email judy.reilly@uconn.edu

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank Autism and Neurodiversity at Work Program

Current roles:

  • Technology Development Program (TDP)
  • Neurodiversity: Learning differences
  • ADHD, autism, dyslexia, dyspraxia, executive functioning weaknesses and other neurological differences

Support during & after hiring

  • Resources and interview preparation for applicants
  • Enhanced onboarding support and facilitation available after an offer is accepted
  • Bimonthly 1-1 coaching sessions are included for the first four months of employment
  • Additional support as needed for the remainder of the program

For more information about open positions in the Citizens Bank’s Autism and Neurodiversity at Work Program, please email judy.reilly@uconn.edu

Corporate Founding Partners

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Organization of the Center

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Prototype Lab

The Prototype Lab is where we will identify, further develop, and test different approaches for solving the employment challenge. This process will allow us to understand the impacts of the most promising approaches and begin to implement them across all levels of the problem.

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Knowledge Hub

The Knowledge Hub seeks to be the central location for what is already known and developed around the topic of neurodiversity and employment. Here information from the prototype lab activities will be collected, organized, and kept up to date so that it can be made available to all interested parties.

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Innovation Fund

The Innovation Fund will focus on finding, funding, and amplifying new solutions created outside of the center. We will identify individuals, companies and organizations that are developing new ideas, and provide seed funding to help bring those ideas to market.

Cornerstone Programs

The Center is currently pursuing the development of programs that will help the neurodivergent college student population prepare for and secure post-graduation employment, as well as provide partner employers access to critical knowledge, support, and instruction in how to increase a neurodiverse workforce at their organization.

For more information about the Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation at UConn, contact:

Judy Reilly

Director, Center for Neurodiversity and Employment Innovation
Judy.Reilly@uconn.edu