Popcorn for the People
Former Y.A.L.E. Student Inspires Successful “Pop” Culture Enterprise Founded on Neurodiversity

On a scorching day in 2014, former Y.A.L.E. NJ School student Samuel Biel came home from a job pushing shopping carts at a grocery store, sunburnt, and downcast. He wanted to accomplish something more meaningful in the workplace. So, Samuel and his father put their heads together to create a business that would build careers—not just jobs—where neurodiverse individuals with autism and other disabilities could train, learn skills, and advance to leadership. Popcorn for the People was born.

Ever since, business has been popping. The non-profit organization now has 54 employees from the disabilities community.  Standard 9 students from Y.A.L.E. School NJ are thrilled to be among them, gaining skills in sales, marketing, and merchandising. This innovative company already has a waiting list of job candidates ready to contribute to the company’s mission as it continues to expand. Popcorn for the People recently moved into a 4,000-square-foot popcorn manufacturing and shipping facility run by businesspeople and artisans with neurodiverse backgrounds. At the new site, the staff skillfully handcrafts gourmet popcorn into flavors like Chicago Baked Cheddar, Butter Caramel, and Dark Chocolate Espresso, then packages and ships orders to popcorn lovers everywhere, including a Broadway theater, airports in New York City and New Jersey, as well as to an ever-growing list of corporate clients.

Soon, Popcorn for the People will be on the move again – this time reaching customers right in their communities, with others planned in high-profile locations. These exciting opportunities not only showcase the vision of its founders but also the support of its premier partners, a winning combination that includes The Eagles Autism Foundation, WAWA, and Nouryon. Popcorn for the People fans will soon see a former WAWA store at 9th and South streets in Philadelphia transform into a Popcorn for the People manufacturing facility.

More than the tempting aroma of corn popping will travel to nearby Lincoln Financial Field. In early 2024, Popcorn for the People will be on sale at a new concession stand at “The Linc”. One dollar from each bag will support the Eagles Autism Foundation’s community grants program. And later this year, Popcorn for the People will be on the shelves at WAWA stores across the Delaware Valley.

In just under 10 years, Samuel Biel and his family, their many valued partners, and dedicated employees have created an innovative social enterprise that works. Popcorn for the People has not only succeeded in producing the most delicious variety of popcorn possible, but the recipe for its success is in every bag.  It’s found in the talents, motivation, and hard work of the people behind the popcorn.