On Tuesday, January 29, 2013, the Chapel Hill—Carrboro Chamber of Commerce recognized Extraordinary Ventures as 2012 Non-Profit of the Year at their Annual Meeting. We were recognized for our unique business/non-profit model, for the unique population we are serving, and for the amazing growth of our businesses in 2012 that has allowed us to double paid employment, create 22 new jobs, and increase revenue by 36%.

Extraordinary Ventures was first established in 2007 by a group of local parents who had children with autism facing graduation from High School with few job or social prospects. This private non-profit group established a unique entrepreneurial approach to creating businesses that works with the abilities of the employees in order to provide jobs and social connections. Our ventures include EV Gifts, EV Laundry, Bus Cleaning for Chapel Hill Transit, Gravesite Guardians, and the Event Center located at 200 S. Elliott Road in Chapel Hill.

What Makes Us UniqueChapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce 2013 Annual Meeting
There are two areas of significant innovation demonstrated by Extraordinary Ventures. The first is a new service model that successfully marries start-up practices with a non-profit mission. This allows for sustainable cash flow to support a non-profit model that provides regular, sustainable employment for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities. Second, at EV, we focus on our employee’s abilities instead of their limitations. We strive to build each business around their strengths.

Extraordinary Ventures has responded to the challenge of employing individuals that the community has labeled unemployable. In our first four years we slowly grew to offer 300 hours of paid employment per month. Through collaboration with people in the community, development of support structures and continuous innovation we have been able to more than double that amount of employment in the past six months.

Although EV offers many services to the community, we believe our real contribution lies in the breaking down of stigmas that exists regarding the value of these individuals. We are working to change mindsets to view adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other developmental disabilities as assets not liabilities to Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s economy.