The Strong and Partners Launch SELF Program

The Strong News Release
One Manhattan Square Rochester, NY 14607 • 585-263-2700 •

June 25, 2019

For Immediate Release

Shane Rhinewald, 585-410-6365,

Noelle McElrath-Hart, 585-410-6325,

The Strong Museum, The Arc of Monroe,
AutismUp, and Monroe One BOCES
Launch SELF Internship Program

ROCHESTER, NY—The Strong, Arc of Monroe, AutismUp, and Monroe One BOCES today announced a partnership to launch SELF (Strong Employment and Life Foundations)—the first program of its kind in the region and one of only a few nation-wide to offer working internships and to teach employment skills to individuals on the autism spectrum. The program provides the opportunity for eight adults in the Rochester area and eight students through Monroe One to intern at The Strong in a variety of rotating roles—including with its facilities, guest services, collections, and marketing teams. Guided by vocational experts from The Arc of Monroe, participants will develop job readiness and employability skills.

“The SELF program gets to the core of The Strong’s educational mission and commitment to creating an inclusive environment,” says Steve Dubnik, president and CEO of The Strong. “We’re pleased to partner with other community-minded organizations to provide these unique internship opportunities, and we hope that these 16 participants are just the first of many enrolled in what will be a long-lasting program in our community.”

The Arc of Monroe and Monroe One will train The Strong’s staff to support the members of the program, and they will also take the lead on developing and providing curriculum and instructional materials for the participants that focus on job development and skill building. Says The Arc of Monroe President and CEO Barbara Wale, “Through this program, we can teach employment skills in a classroom setting and then apply those lessons directly to tasks at The Strong with the goal of the participants going on to enjoy full employment in the community. We recognize that individuals learn at different rates, so this program will not be time limited and will be truly centered on each unique learner. We thank the other partners for joining us in this worthy mission.”

Throughout the program, student and adult participants will be assessed regularly in their readiness for competitive employment, and AutismUp up will provide continuity and ongoing support for the individuals enrolled and their families. Says Rachel Rosner, AutismUp’s director of education and support services, “AutismUp will help the SELF program families navigate the complex shift from school-based service to the community-based programs available to adults with autism. SELF is a special opportunity that speaks to the collaborative nature of our community, and for the program participants, it can be truly life changing.”

The student members of the program, selected by Monroe One staff, can remain with the program through next school year or until they turn 21. “SELF will help our students to build confidence, work on social skills, and be immersed in business culture,” says Daniel White, district superintendent for Monroe One BOCES. “This will set our students on a path to a lifetime of employment.”

The first group of interns will begin their work on September 5. Adult applications are now open through July 8, and adults who are interested in applying to this program or with eligibility questions, should contact Matt Fico from The Arc of Monroe at 585-672-2222. School-age students interested should contact JoAnn Genthner, executive principal, at 585-387-3829.

About The Strong

The Strong is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It is one of the largest history museums in the United States and one of the leading museums serving families. The Strong houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play and is home to the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play, the Woodbury School, and the American Journal of Play. Together, these enable a multifaceted array of research, exhibition, and other interpretive and educational activities that serve a diverse audience of adults, families, children, students, teachers, scholars, collectors, and others around the globe.

About Arc of Monroe

The Arc of Monroe has been supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families in the Rochester community for more than 60 years. The Arc’s mission is to create an inclusive society where people who they support may live truly integrated lives and reach their full potential as a part of the community. In addition to the residential, day and community habilitation, clinical and behavior health services we provide, The Arc of Monroe provides more than 500 people pre-vocational or supported employment services to assist people in gaining competitive community employment and further opportunities for independence.

About AutismUp

AutismUp is the leading 501(c)3 autism support organization in the Greater Rochester and surrounding areas. Founded in 2004, by a small group of parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, AutismUp has grown to include more than 2,300 family and professional member households. AutismUp works to support individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and their families, by expanding and enhancing opportunities to improve quality of life. 

About Monroe One Educational Services

Monroe One develops and implements programs and services that meet the diverse needs of general education students, special needs students with disabilities, and at-risk students. Resources are combined, when and where they are needed, to provide creative solutions that help students stay in school and ultimately achieve success, supporting Monroe One's belief that every student can succeed. Monroe One is one of 37 Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) operating throughout New York State. Monroe One is a cooperative extension of the ten Monroe County suburban school districts on the east side of Rochester and also serves 134 school districts from 12 neighboring counties in western New York.