By: Chris Brunner
Thomas D’Eri, COO of Rising Tide Car Wash, whose primary mission to employ adults with autism, was recently named to the celebrated 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list.
Leading the social entrepreneurship movement, D’Eri is dedicated to empowering young adults with autism and inspiring communities to change their perception of their capabilities.
D’Eri said it was an incredible honor to be named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs list.
“Empowering individuals with autism is a critical issue in today’s world. Autism is a valuable diversity, as opposed to a disability that requires sympathy ― and it’s important for communities to understand all that individuals with autism have to offer.”
Honoring the best and boldest young leaders, creators and thinkers, the Forbes 30 Under 30 list honors trailblazers from across 20 diverse fields. The Social Entrepreneurs category recognizes those using business acumen to make a lasting impact on the world. The Forbes list has an acceptance rate below four percent.
The three-step process involves the assembling of thousands of candidates across 20 categories through open nominations, recommendations by respected investors, executives, entrepreneurs, and the reporting by the Forbes edit team. Then, Forbes staff picks around 60 finalists for each field. Finally, independent industry legends select the final 30 in each category.
He shows that it is possible to build a business that blends both money and meaning in an economically viable fashion. Thomas and his father, John D’Eri, co-founded Rising Tide Car Wash social enterprise in Parkland in 2013 to develop a scalable solution to employing individuals with autism. They were inspired to do this by watching Thomas’ brother Andrew, a vibrant young man with autism, struggle to find his place in the world. The goal of Rising Tide is to give more young adults with autism opportunities to realize their capabilities, gain confidence, make friends, gain financial independence, and have a place to call their own.
In 2016, D’Eri launched Rising Tide’s training organization, Rising Tide U (RTU), providing a road map for families who believe starting a business is their only way to help loved ones with autism build a future. RTU recently launched The Autism Advantage, an online program ― the only program of its kind that walks participants step-by-step through creating a social enterprise that supports neurodiverse individuals.
With approximately 90 employees, Rising Tide Car Wash is one of the largest employers of people with autism in the U.S. It operates two locations: in Parkland and in Margate, Florida.
D’Eri is a frequent public speaker on topics related to social entrepreneurship and autism employment. In 2017 and 2018, he was selected to speak at United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day panel event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, N.Y. In addition, he has been featured on “NBC Nightly News,” Fox Business’ “Making Money,” MSNBC’s “Your Business This Sunday,” TEDxCoconutGrove, Fast Company and the Miami Herald. He has been instrumental in Rising Tide’s many other local and national accomplishments since its launch.
D’Eri has also been honored with South Florida Business & Wealth Magazine’s Up & Comer Award, Retail category; and is a Young Entrepreneur Council member, Miami Herald 20 Under 40 Emerging Leader, Unreasonable Institute Fellow, and more.