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March 2017 - First Place Newsletter

Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Grants $1.43M

March 2017

The grant advances a $21.3 million comprehensive capital campaign to build First Place–Phoenix. The campaign also includes start-up operating funding and has made the operation of a beta site possible for the First Place Transition Academy since 2015.

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$1M from Stardust

February 2017

Awarded by Jerry Bisgrove, chairman and CEO of Stardust Foundation, the $1 million contribution is advancing a $21.3 million comprehensive capital campaign of which $15 million is dedicated to the development of First Place-Phoenix.


Reflecting on 2016


2017 has started with great momentum, fueled by our groundbreaking in December and many special moments in 2016. We look forward to making new memories together in the year ahead!


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Breaking New Ground


First Place AZ has broken ground on a new $15 million residential property for adults with autism and other neuro-diverse abilities with a one-of-a-kind approach to combining apartments, a residential training program and a national leadership institute to advance more independent and community integrated living options.

Look Up...The Sky's the Limit

The Sky's the Limit


After 16 years in the making, First Place AZ is breaking ground on its first new property, First Place-Phoenix, located in the heart of the urban area at Third and Catalina streets. This very special event takes place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

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$1 Million Committed


The Arizona Department of Housing, Maricopa Industrial Development Authority (IDA) and Phoenix IDA and are committing $1 million to support major capacity-building goals of First Place AZ in the areas of new housing options, post-secondary education and life-skills development, training and employment.

A Place in the World

Connections Event


Cox Communications celebrates community leadership that has made Phoenix "the most autism-friendly city in the world." The event will feature a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the PBS stories with producers John Donvan and Caren Zucker.

First Place Board Officers

New Board Officers
& Member


First Place has elected new board officers for the First Place AZ Board of Directors: Sara Dial, Board Chair; Nancy White, Vice Chair; Joe Cooper, Treasurer; Tess Burleson, Secretary. Jack Henry, Founder and Managing Director of Sierra Blanca Ventures, LLC, has also been elected to the board.

From Commencement Speaker to First Place Student

From Commencement to First Place


Jake Scott, an incoming First Place Transition Academy student, delivered the commencement speech at his recent high school graduation. Congratulations, Jake! Excited for you and your new First Place classmates!

PBS NewsHour Spotlights Supportive Phoenix Community

PBS NewsHour Spotlights Phoenix


John Donvan and Caren Zucker, award-winning journalists, spent four days in Phoenix this month filming a segment for PBS NewsHour. Their focus is on transitioning adolescents and adults with autism, featuring students from the First Place Transition Academy operated by SARRC.

House to Home Price Recipient

First Place Wins Autism Speaks Prize


First Place has won the Autism Speaks House to Home Prize! The prize awards $50,000 to First Place, recognizing its “belief-busting breakthrough” idea in housing and residential supports. First Place captured honors in the Weekly Support Category.

GateWay Community College - First Place

FP Students Tour Maricopa Skills Ctr


GateWay Community College officials recently hosted the First Place Transition Academy students on a tour of the Maricopa Skills Center. The MSC offers programs that will give students the tools to enhance their resume, acquire essential job-searching techniques and attain the necessary skills employers are seeking.

Story of Autism - Book Signing

Journalists Bring Us the History of Autism


In a Different Key tells the extraordinary story of this often misunderstood condition, and of the civil rights battles waged by the families of those who have it. Unfolding over decades, it is a beautifully rendered history of ordinary people determined to secure a place in the world for those with autism.


Grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust

$150,000 Grant from Pulliam Trust


The grant is funding 32 individual courses specific to functional life skills, career development, social interactions and community integration. First Place Transition Academy students are enrolled at GateWay Community College and pursuing a non-credit certificate in Independent Living Skills and Career Development.

Dylan Forges a Path Toward Independence


We're encouraged with the early results of the First Place Transition Academy, operated by the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center. Check out Dylan’s progress!

First Place Students Visit MIM

Drum Roll, Please ...From the MIM


Students recently visited the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and immersed themselves in the musical traditions of countries across the world. During the visit, students discussed other countries and cultures, interacted with electronic exhibits, and experienced the museum at their own pace.

First Place -  Knock, Knock…Who Is It?

Knock, Knock...
Who Is It?


Safety is one of the most important aspects of living independently. For First Place's adult students living on their own for the first time, building the skills they need to be safe in their home is essential. "Opening the door to guests" was one of the students’ first safety lessons at the First Place Transition Academy, operated by SARRC.