Centrally located in Phoenix, First Place is transit oriented and within walking distance of light rail and public transportation.
Thanks to public, private, nonprofit and charitable support, First Place–Phoenix connects residents to jobs, internships, volunteer work and continuing education, as well as retail, restaurants, recreation, and arts and culture. Adults with autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury and other neurodiversities live and learn among their neighbors within a compassionate and caring environment.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a great example of the supportive community of Greater Phoenix. At several locations throughout the airport, you can purchase local products that support adults with autism. SMILE® Biscotti and a collection of items produced by SARRC’s Beneficial Beans® social enterprise can be purchased at two Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations and in the Pardies Shops and Casa Unlimited, Inc. stores. SMILE Biscotti is one of Pete's top-selling non-coffee items in Terminal 4!
For many First Place Transition Academy participants, GateWay Community College is their first experience on a community college campus. At GateWay, participants engage in Learn4Independence, a curriculum of 32 semester-length courses focused on life skills, career readiness and interpersonal relationships. Many participants also enjoy paid internships on campus.
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), First Place’s sister nonprofit, was co-founded by First Place founder, president and CEO Denise Resnik in 1997. This is SARRC’s Campus for Exceptional Children, where families receive support from educators and professionals through early intervention and ongoing training programs. SARRC’s administrative offices are also based here.
Chase Field is home to the Arizona Diamondbacks MLB team and employer of First Place Transition Academy participants who work in a variety of roles as paid interns.
As a supporter of SARRC and its various programs for many years, the Phoenix Suns participate in an annual Autism Awareness Night each April and offer a variety of seats and ticket packages to fans at the event.
ASU Downtown is collaborating with First Place and SARRC on various research and educational initiatives. Through the First Place Fellowship Program, ASU doctoral and postdoctoral fellows will be residing at First Place–Phoenix while working with the First Place Leadership Institute.
Burton Barr Central Library is home to LibraryWorks, part of SARRC’s CommunityWorks® teen volunteer programs. Here, young adults with and without autism receive training and work experience while contributing to the broader community through volunteerism.
Phoenix Theatre is located in the heart of the city’s arts and culture district. SARRC partners with Phoenix Theatre’s summer camp program, which offers inclusive experiences for campers ages 8 to 16.
SARRC’s Vocational & Life Skills Academy (VLSA) allows individuals to explore potential jobs and careers while learning important life skills to enhance their ability to live and work more independently. The VLSA is also home to SARRC’s Colonel Harland D. Sanders Center for Autism Studies, which conducts innovative and collaborative research with leading institutions in Arizona and around the country.
After serving as a beta site for the Transition Academy since 2015, 29 Palms in Phoenix now serves as a residence for Academy graduates. Academy participants live at First Place–Phoenix for the duration of the two-year program and can then transition to 29 Palms to continue honing their independent living skills in this unique, multigenerational apartment community. We have also opened a second residential property with FSL called Spectrum Courtyard Apartments at 23rd and Missouri avenues in Phoenix.
Phoenix College is the future home of a collection of First Place/SARRC-developed courses. Like the GateWay Community College campus, Phoenix College will be open to lifelong learners with special abilities.
St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center/ Barrow Neurological Institute is the site of a developing adolescent and adult medical care initiative now underway. SARRC and BNI are also collaborating on a research initiative evaluating the aging brain.
The new, 183,000-square-foot Health Sciences campus is scheduled to open in 2021 at Park Central in midtown—just three blocks from First Place–Phoenix. The state-of-the-art campus will be home to a four-year medical school and accommodate nearly 900 students, including future physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists and physician assistants.
Located at the northeast corner of Third Street and Catalina Drive, First Place–Phoenix is within walking distance of public transit, including light rail. This unique residential property, open since 2018, represents home for individuals who live and learn there, an inspiring and enriching environment for those who work there, and peace of mind for family and friends who come and go.
Connection to the greater community is an integral part of life at First Place. Valley Metro’s extensive and growing light rail and bus systems connect First Place residents to various services, as well as arts and culture, education and healthcare venues throughout Phoenix and neighboring communities. First Place–Phoenix is located within walking distance of Valley Metro bus and light rail stops.
Phoenix-based Changing Hands Bookstore is an avid supporter of SARRC, First Place and other local businesses. SMILE® Biscotti, made through a First Place enterprise, are sold in the bookstore's First Draft Book Bar.
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