REED: Developing an Entrepreneurial Solution for Adults with Autism
In early 2017, Jill Nadison, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the REED Foundation for Autism (REED Foundation) and executive director of REED Academy in New Jersey, was faced with the difficult decision of selecting among three alternatives to support the academy's next venture, REED Next. REED Academy, a non-profit school for children with autism, provided innovative, highly individualized education based on principles of applied behaviour analysis and was supported by the REED Foundation. REED Next was intended to support students who, at age 21, had aged out of REED Academy. The selected option would have to provide long-term, self-sustaining funding for students. Choices ranged from a less-risky option, expanding fundraising, to increasingly entrepreneurial ideas such as opening and operating either an event space or a vertical farm. The CEO was under pressure to make the decision in time for the initiative to begin operations before the 21st birthday of a REED Academy student who would need ongoing therapy to continue to enjoy a good quality of life. Mary Conway Dato-on is affiliated with Rollins College.