What is CommunityWorks Canada®?

CommunityWorks Canada® (CWC) is a pre-employment training program for teens and young adults ages 15 to 21 with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The innovative peer-mentorship program facilitates social inclusion and community engagement and helps participants develop life and employment skills through readiness training and volunteer experience.

A program built for success

CWC was conceived with one simple goal in mind: to support and invest in the talents of people with ASD as they navigate employment opportunities and contribute to their communities.

A Better Quality of Life

There are many benefits for individuals who participate in the program. It helps create new friendships, builds self-esteem and improves job readiness. Volunteer experiences in the community foster increased independence and provide opportunities to sample various work and social skills, including things like punctuality and self-care.


Volunteer work experiences provide program participants with the opportunity to practice and enhance their social, communication and employment skills, helping to open up a world of opportunities, including identifying future job prospects, generating ideas for self-employment, or a return to school.

Evaluation & Goal Setting

Program Facilitators work closely with peer mentors to record video segments and collect data related to individual participant goals. These goals may include increasing pre-employment skills, following workplace culture or developing and improving other social and personal skills.

Inspiring confidence, creating hope and demonstrating benefits of inclusive hiring.

CommunityWorks Canada® is delivered during after school hours and provides participants with the opportunity to develop and practice basic job skills, improve social and communications skills, acquire community volunteer experience and cultivate potential areas of interest for future employment.


Impact Story

Alex shares his experience in the CommunityWorks Canada® program and how it helped him improve his confidence and better understand his vocational interests, strengths and abilities.


Impact Story

Rosario describes the experience of the CommunityWorks Canada® program for his son Damien, and how it provided him with the opportunity to gain confidence and engage with different employers while exploring potential areas of vocational interest.

Community Partner

Impact Story

Shawn, owner of Re-Matt Inc. discusses his motivation for partnering with the CommunityWorks Canada program and describes some of the rewards and benefits he and his staff have experienced working with individuals with Autism.

Why is CommunityWorks Canada® important?

●  Strong indicators of long-term job success are the employment related experiences we have as teenagers.

●  Early volunteer work and part-time employment teach us about responsibility, dependability and appropriate workplace behaviour.

●  Most adolescents with neuro-developmental disabilities including ASD have problems getting this type of experience.

●  Current employment rates among persons with neuro-developmental disabilities are unacceptably low.

● Employment for persons with ASD ranges in studies from 10 to 55 percent.

● It is estimated that the value of caregiver time required to support a person significantly impacted by ASD is 5.5 million dollars higher than for someone without autism. There are significant benefits and cost savings associated with employment. Dudley & Emery (January 2014). The Value of Caregiver Time: Costs of Support and Care for Individuals Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What does the future hold?

●  The CWC program will be delivered in 5 regions across Canada during the next 4 years.

●  Ongoing sustainability planning to grow and scale up the program via train the trainer models will enable more organizations to become providers of the program and impact more individuals with ASD.

●  Increased community and employer awareness regarding the capabilities and contributions that individuals with ASD bring to the workplace.

● Ongoing collaboration with municipal, provincial and federal governments to provide continuing support for pre-employment and vocational engagement initiatives for individuals with ASD.

● Opportunities to identify and develop promising practices across the country.

● Community awareness.

Government of Canada helps create employment opportunities

Since 2006, the Opportunities Fund for Persons with Disabilities has helped 40,000 people with disabilities across Canada. This is part of the Government of Canada’s overall strategy to equip all Canadians with the skills and training they need to connect with available jobs. To provide more demand-driven training solutions for people with disabilities, the Government’s Economic Action Plan is increasing funding to the Opportunities Fund by $40 million annually. Employers and community organizations will be involved in designing and delivering training projects. Through the Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government is providing $11.4 million over four years to The Sinneave Family Foundation and Autism Speaks Canada to expand vocational training programs for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Visit the government of Canada Website >

Tried & tested

CWC is modeled after an innovative community based, pre-employment, peer mentorship program developed at the Southwest Autism Resource & Research Center (SARRC) in Phoenix, Arizona. The original program, which uses an evidence-informed social and behavioral framework, has seen thousands of dedicated youth develop important social and employment skills by clocking over 40,000 community service hours at such places as libraries, the zoo, food banks and botanical gardens. CommunityWorks Canada® builds on this success, offering employment readiness training and volunteer experience to individuals with ASD across Canada.

Read more about SARRC >

Interested in getting involved?

By coming together to respond to the changing needs of a growing autism population in our communities, we can enable positive employment impacts that lead to greater independence and an improved quality of life for individuals with ASD and their families.



Become a Participant

Participating in the CommunityWorks Canada® program can have a big impact on your life. You’ll have a chance to explore your interest and abilities in a variety of work environments, make new friends, increase your independence and build confidence. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 21, and have a diagnosis of ASD, go to the Learn More section below to find a program near you.

Become a Peer Mentor

Do you want to help individuals with ASD acquire job skills and improve their communication and social skills? Becoming a Peer Mentor in the CWC program promises to be a meaningful volunteer experience. You will be part of a creative, collaborative team, and have the opportunity to develop your leadership skills and make new friends. If you’re between the ages of 15 and 18 and are interested in being a Peer Mentor, contact us today.

Become a Workplace Partner

There are countless youth with autism who could contribute to the already diverse workforce if given the opportunity to showcase their talents. By becoming a Workplace Partner with the CWC program, your organization will help individuals with ASD develop work-related skills, increase independence, and contribute to their community. The program is low impact with meaningful returns, and a short orientation will be offered to all staff to dispel any myths about autism.

Have questions?

Check out the following links for answers to commonly asked questions.

Program Q&A  ASD Q&A

Still can’t find what you are looking for? Call 1-888-733-7976 or email us.