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What is Spectrum Fusion?

 Rice University students making a difference in the lives of adults with autism.

Rice University students making a difference in the lives of adults with autism.

Social Entrepreneurs

One of the big points of confusion many people have when they are introduced to Spectrum Fusion is exactly what it is we are. Are we a business? A charity? A gathering of activists? Several times people have seen what we have to say and simply determined that what we claim to be and what we promise is too good to be true. Unfortunately, that’s a reality we might not be able to escape for a while until our organization grows and enough feedback comes in to prove that we mean what we say.

However, it does raise the question; what exactly is Spectrum Fusion? Spectrum Fusion is clearly not a typical business venture, as it does not charge its participants. We do this because charging participants adds a barrier to entry that we don’t want to have, and only helps the people who can afford it, whereas our mission is to help as many people as we can. However, we are not simply activists, as rather than simply engendering change at some higher level we also work directly with those affected by autism.

So what are we? Well, in a recent sit down with Thomas Rollerson, who was the CEO of Dream Foundation for 20 years, he explained that the best way to describe us would be as “Social Entrepreneurs.” 

Unlike a normal entrepreneur, who seeks to create a business venture that generally follows the existing status quo, social entrepreneurs disrupt the status quo by creating an innovative solution to a social problem; in this case, helping adults with autism find more fulfilling work through pursuing their purpose. 

A social entrepreneur is effectively the blending of both an activist and a typical entrepreneur. We seek change, just as an activist does, but unlike a typical activist who demands change from the top down we make the change ourselves from the bottom up by providing a new innovative service, product, or approach to a situation that is effective enough to cause a widespread systemic change to the status quo. As an activist, we are first and foremost passionately devoted to change for those who are disadvantaged and marginalized, but our method is through innovation rather than through reform.

What Sets Spectrum Fusion Apart

It is this factor that I believe sets us apart from most other organizations, as well as what people likely misunderstand when they first hear about us. It might be easier for those we seek to reach out to trust us if we were typical activists. Activists tend to be more quickly believed than ‘businesses’ when they try and do good for a marginalized people because they tend to have more of a personal stake in whatever it is they’re fighting for, as well as asking for little in return from the marginalized group they champion save sharing in whatever benefits they bring about through reform. Meanwhile, a business or entrepreneurship tends to be looked at as wanting to make money first and catering to a market they can profit off of, even if that market could greatly benefit from the product.

A social entrepreneur, though, has the heart of an activist and the method of an entrepreneur. Our main goal at Spectrum Fusion is to bring about positive change for adults with autism, but rather than through reform by petitioning and rallying at higher-ups in government and education, we seek to lift up those with autism by helping them achieve their goals directly rather than through government intervention. In this way, we also don’t inadvertently step on any toes, accidentally disadvantage any other populations with sweeping reforms, and make fewer enemies. Furthermore, by providing a service that ultimately benefits everyone who needs help without inconveniencing anyone who doesn’t, we can bring the community closer together without any enmity between those with ASD and those without.

Time Will Tell

It is, of course, a great deal more difficult to innovate than it is to ask a higher power to cause sweeping reforms. Just like starting a business is difficult, starting a program like this is an astronomical undertaking and it will require a great deal of effort in the coming years to become widespread enough to reach everybody we need to. With hard work and dedication, however, we can make it happen, and in time hopefully, people will come to see that this isn’t too good to be true.