Source-Align-Develop-Retain Special Needs Students

About Us

Mission

We help special needs students with

 not only a career but a life path 

Vision

We empower parents, special needs educators and employers with an even higher standard of education, helping autistic high school students to learn 21st century skills by creating community-based employment as paid apprentices to address unemployment and improve socioeconomic outcomes

Our team

Helena van der Merwe

A-Plus Apprentice Founder

An accomplished international and domestic marketing leader and strategist in a number of fields

A New Jersey Top 100 Innovator featured in the inaugural publication, NJ Innovate, released April 2020

Published in Authority Magazine January 2020, “5 Things That Should Be Done to Improve the US Educational System with Helena van der Merwe from A-Plus-Consulting”

An InnovateHER NJ Finalist and a Summer Technology Entrepreneurship Program (STEP) instructor

One of her favorite initiatives is administered through her A-Plus Apprentice program which matches Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) high school students with employers with the aim of providing full-time careers

As a pharmacology graduate, early in her career she became an award winning leader in the release of groundbreaking clinical trial results

With a varied career spanning many disciplines, van der Merwe is also a Rutgers Entrepreneur Pioneer Initiative graduate, a NASA Blue Sky Space Radiation workshop presenter and a Committee on Space Radiation (COSPAR) 2021 presenter

The Boggs Center​​​

The Boggs Center is New Jersey’s federally designated University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities and is part of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Department of Pediatrics. Since its inception in 1983, The Center has emphasized a community based, lifespan approach to meeting the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.

The Boggs Center provides community and student training and technical assistance, conducts research, and disseminates information and educational materials. Activities of The Boggs Center are guided by the Consumer Advisory Council, and partnerships with people with disabilities, families, state and community agencies, and policy makers


The Boggs Center helps us with employer training to help employers understand how to hire and work with students with autism spectrum disorder for not only a career but a life path

Our Specialized Team

John Mitrano

Related Technical Instructor

Founder and owner of Techdesigno. John enjoys teaching as an Adjunct College Professor in course subjects such as, Art Appreciation, Computer Graphics, Computer Enhanced Layout & Design, Cyberspace Graphics & Animation, Web Design, and Digital Video Graphic Design

Bob Brown

Related Technical Instructor

Brown is a United States Air Force Veteran, honorably discharged 1971. He is a graduate of Ringling College of Art & Design, Sarasota Florida. Bob Brown is a professional illustrator and graphic designer, and the founder of Brown Ink Associates an artist’s agency and graphic design studio. This studio/agency has performed contracts for the likes of Sports Illustrated Magazine, NBC Television, HBO Sports, Miller Beer and many more USA corporations, including designing NJIT/PTAC branding look from 2007 – 2017

Dr Paddy Sharma

STEM lead

Dr. Sharma, a well-known personality in Atlanta, comes from a family of educationists. She holds a Doctorate degree in Psychology. Dr. Sharma believes that education is the key to success for all children and to make children commit to education, Dr. Sharma along with her husband Dr. Chandler Sharma founded the FI HI (Finish High School) Hope Foundation, a support system that offers monetary and tutorial help to encourage students, who are on the verge of dropping out, to complete their high school education.

She is currently working on promoting STEM education across the developing countries. She is also a founder member and trustee of a STEM model school in India

Joel Levin

Marketing

Levin, a self-described "professional optimist, conceptualizer, marketer, and promoter" has four decades of experience in general and direct marketing, public relations, investor relations, advertising, and government relations/lobbying. "I have long realized the value of integrating all marketing communications as a way to reinforce messaging as well as to multiply the impact of marketing budgets," he explains.

A string of entrepreneurial ventures in ad agencies, PR agencies, direct marketing, architecture, and sustainable energy have long energized him. Levin currently heads mar-ket-ing inc., an integrated-marketing consultancy


Reviews

Thank you to Helena van der Merwe, for being an amazing Summer Technology Entrepreneurship Program 

(STEP) instructor! Van der Merwe, created A-Plus-Consulting LLC to provide training for special needs students to allow them to participate in the technology labor market. She is passionate about innovation and

focused on creating new approaches to science and technology research. She created a winning

NASA solution to protect astronauts against space radiation. She is a South African American

entrepreneur who has brought added value to STEP!

Damaris Lopez, STEP Program Director, Morrison Technologies Inc.