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Arizona Autism Charter Schools Opens an Entrepreneurial Training Center

Arizona Autism Charter Schools will open a new Entrepreneurial Training Center next week as part of an effort to better prepare high school students and young adults on the autism spectrum for their future careers.

Four social enterprise businesses will operate from the center: a coffee shop, a screen printing and retail shop, a shipping and receiving shop, and a design studio for technical repair and coding. These ventures, known as Essential Piece Enterprises, will provide students with crucial job skills in a supportive environment.

AZACS Founder and Executive Director Diana Diaz was inspired to start the first school in 2014 due to the lack of quality school options for her son Sammy. As Sammy and many other students graduate from elementary school, Diana is excited to expand her transition program with the new Essential Piece Enterprises.

“These four community-focused businesses – the Cafe, the Screen Printing Shop, the Shipping & Receiving Shop, and the Tech Studio – are not just businesses, they are a game-changer for our community, serving high school students and adults on the spectrum with the opportunity to acquire professional skills in an innovative, safe and supportive environment,” said Diaz. “We are excited to launch this program and see how it changes the trajectory of young adults on the spectrum, and we invite you to be part of this exciting journey.”

The project was accomplished through a partnership with the Charter Schools Development Corporation and funding from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. SD Crane Builders, a long-time charter partner, oversaw construction to ensure the facilities are state-of-the-art.

“The establishment of the Entrepreneurial Training Center will provide AZACS students with a premier educational facility, preparing them for success in the job market,” said Laura Fiemann, Chief Development Officer of the Charter Schools Development Corp.

AZACS has a track record in the field of innovation in education. Over the past decade, it has opened five campuses and achieved national recognition, including winning the 2022 Yass Prize, a highly sought-after recognition that honors excellence in educational organizations.