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Opportunities for All: SFPUC Graduates First-Ever Neurodiversity Interns
Multi-stakeholder initiative is agency’s newest effort to diversify San Francisco’s construction industry workforce
Posted Date: 5/29/2019 9:45 AM
neurodiversity program graduates

Graduates of the SFPUC's Neurodiversity Pilot Program

San Francisco, CA—A group of diverse and talented San Franciscans are now officially graduates of an inaugural Neurodiversity Pilot Program led by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), and made possible through partnerships with the community-based organization, The Arc San Francisco, and private sector partners Sundt/Walsh, Brown & Caldwell, Stantec and Webcor. 
The Neurodiversity community includes individuals with autism, down syndrome, severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder or other learning differences diagnosed as significant barriers to employment. Last week, the SFPUC hosted a graduation ceremony for the first enrollees of the growing program. 
“The SFPUC is pushing forward inclusion and diversity initiatives to serve all San Franciscans by encouraging our partners to expand their pool of potential employees,” said SFPUC General Manager Harlan L. Kelly, Jr. “I am thrilled to partner with The Arc San Francisco and our firm associates to facilitate and drive forward this first-of-its kind inclusive program.”
The SFPUC’s Workforce and Economic Programs team began developing the Neurodiversity Pilot Program in 2018 after recognizing the disparity in unemployment rates between San Francisco and its Neurodiverse community. 
The six-month program was designed to alleviate barriers to employment that the Neurodiverse community faces by providing on-the-job experience and access to career opportunities with firms that partner with the SFPUC. While interns are hosted at the firm’s offices, typical duties include administrative tasks, database updating and communication tracking. Additionally, the interns have access to a multitude of additional support services, including a job coach who provides support at the work site. 
Since its launch in December, the Neurodiversity Pilot Program has been one of the first initiatives in the nation to provide training and career development in the construction and engineering industry for individuals with developmental disabilities.
In collaboration with our partners, the program was recently recognized with an Innovator of the Year award by The Arc. In addition, one of the graduates from the program was recognized as Intern of the Year. 
“We are proud to join forces with the SFPUC and its partners in the Neurodiversity Pilot Program initiative,” said Kristen Pedersen, Chief of Services, Education and Workforce Inclusion for The Arc San Francisco. “This program is the first of its kind in the construction industry and represents a huge step forward in expanding the workforce to include individuals with developmental disabilities.”