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Autism research facility opens employment center with help from Arizona D-backs

(KTAR Photo/Kathy Cline)

PHOENIX — An Arizona autism research center has hit a real hiring home run thanks to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center cut the ribbon Tuesday at its new employment center. A $100,000 Ken Kendrick Grand Slam grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation helped pay for the new computers, decor and upgraded Internet capabilities.

“You absolutely cannot live independently if you’re not employed,” SARRC President and CEO Daniel Openden said. “[Many young autistic adults] go to school, they have good school programs.

“Then they turn 18 and they graduate – or maybe they go to high school through 20 or 21 – and they fall off the services cliff.”

The SARRC employment hub allows adults with autism to search for job openings from a pool of over 30 places that hire autistic adults. Openden said SARRC clients are treated like everyone else in these interviews.

“These are not charity positions,” he said. “[SARRC clients] have to interview, like everyone else.”

The Diamondbacks have presented 71 Grand Slam Awards totaling $5.9 million since the program’s inception in 2002. The awards were renamed the Ken Kendrick Grand Slam Awards in 2016, in honor of General Managing Partner Ken Kendrick.

Most of the awards focus on homelessness, health care and children’s programs.

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