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The Phoenix City Council approved a contract permitting Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) to occupy vacant café space located inside Burton Barr Central Library. The five-year contract permits the operation of SARRC’s social enterprise program Beneficial Beans Café, scheduled to open in March 2017.


Burton Barr Central Library.

Beneficial Beans Café will sell coffee and food items to library visitors and employees, but its most distinct feature will be serving as an internship site for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Beneficial Beans internships, a critical component of SARRC’s social enterprise and employment programs, enable adults with ASD to gain valuable employment skills.

In part due to its social enterprise programs, more than 70 percent of adults served by SARRC hold competitive jobs in the community, where according to national data, it’s estimated only 10 percent of adults with ASD are employed.

“We are proud of our social enterprise programs, which, with the talent and support of our clinical team, provide vital training platforms for our adult clients,” said Daniel Openden, Ph.D., president and CEO of SARRC. “Our new partnership with Burton Barr Central Library will allow our team to prepare more interns for competitive, community-based employment, with the ultimate goal of increasing the employment rate among adults with autism.”


Future Beneficial Beans Cafe location. Courtesy of SARRC.

The first Beneficial Beans Café, established in 2012, is located inside Scottsdale Civic Center Library and has yielded positive results among interns, who learn skills like task and time management, responding positively to change, accepting feedback, and customer service etiquette.

“Phoenix Public Library is very excited about this partnership,” said Rita Hamilton, Phoenix City Librarian. “Offering SARRC clients a place to expand their knowledge base, skill set and confidence, while offering library customers a feature that encourages a longer visit with us, is what Phoenix Public Library is all about.”

Burton Barr Central Library, situated in downtown Phoenix, hosts approximately 1 million visitors a year and serves as the flagship location and administrative headquarters for the Phoenix Public Library.