The Spectrum Works Pop-Up Store Gives Autistic Students a Chance to Practice What They Teach

Jennifer "Jay" Palumbo
3 min readJul 27, 2021
The Spectrum Works Pop-Up Store at American Dream Gives Autistic Students a Chance to Practice What They Teach

Spectrum Works, Inc., a New Jersey non-profit dedicated to providing job training and employment opportunities for high school students and other young adults with autism, is recently announced the opening of a pop-store for a limited time at American Dream, the unrivaled entertainment/retail center located in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Two Companies Working Together

Spectrum Works was founded by Ann Marie Sullivan, an entrepreneur with two decades of experience in building and managing start-up organizations, to address a critical disconnect between an 80% unemployment rate for individuals with autism and their value to the workforce as employees with inherent skills and abilities. In 2013, she partnered with Robert Butters, founder of Green Distribution, to make the Spectrum Works vision a reality.

The Spectrum Works signature Job Training and Employment Program incorporates integrated on-the-job training, classroom-based learning focusing on soft skills, and competitive employment opportunities via partnerships with participating companies.

American Dream, developed by Triple Five Group, is an unparalleled mix of world-class entertainment, retail, and dining, comprising more than 3 million square feet in East Rutherford, New Jersey, just minutes away from New York City.

The store features t-shirts, sweatshirts, and baby onesies in various designs and colors and is staffed by Spectrum Works students. All clothing is highly discounted, and 100% of the proceeds support employment opportunities for autistic young adults.

“We are very excited to partner with the American Dream on this unique opportunity for our students to gain real-world experience working with the public amid the bustle of this unparalleled complex,” states Ann Marie Sullivan, CEO, and founder of Spectrum Works. “Our job coaches are on hand to manage the administration, but the students are essentially running the daily operation, from handling the payment transactions to maintaining the displays and assisting customers.”

Sullivan adds, “This American Dream store is our proving ground. Part of our Job Training & Employment program…

Jennifer "Jay" Palumbo

CEO of Wonder Woman Writer, Freelance Writer & Women’s Health Advocate. Has written for Parents Magazine, Time Magazine, Huffington Post, and ScaryMommy.