Providing an inclusive work environment for people with disabilities – Ryan Wenke | Prospector Theater

Ryan Wenke joins show to talk about the Prospector Theater and how it provides inclusive employment for people with disabilities

Did you know 80% of people with disabilities in the United States do not have a job? On this episode of The Small Business Show, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Ryan Wenke, executive director of the Prospector Theater, a company that provides competitive and inclusive employment to people with physical and developmental disabilities.

Key Takeaways

1. Prospector Theater is a non-profit movie theater with 125 employees, 75% of whom self-identify with a disability. That is 10 times the average for a business of the same size.

2. Jobs at Prospector Theater include roles in the box office, concession stand, cafe, production team, landscape team, and kitchen.

3. Prospector Theater is the proud producer of Prospector Popcorn. This gourmet popcorn brand seeks to spread the business’s message of inclusivity in the workplace for those with disabilities.

4. Prospector Theater was founded by Valerie Jensen, whose sister Hope has Down syndrome. Taking inspiration from her relative’s experiences and her own work in charity, Jensen decided to create a non-profit that would provide a stable and inclusive work environment for people with disabilities.

5. Prospector Theater continues to invest in new opportunities to help people with disabilities pursue their passions in an inclusive work environment. Wenke notes that the organization even has a band that can be scheduled by other businesses to play at their event.

"To us, expansion isn't a brick-and-mortar movie theater. We're showing the world that it doesn't have to be a movie theater, it doesn't have to be popcorn, it could be a wide variety of business models. What's really important is the education, the inclusion, the accommodations. Those kinds of best practices that we have here." – Ryan Wenke

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