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Connected Community

Centrally located in Phoenix, First Place is transit oriented and within walking distance of light rail and public transportation.

Live. Learn. Work.

Since First Place®AZ broke ground on its first new property, First Place–Phoenix, in late 2016, the transformation of an empty urban lot at Third Street and Catalina Drive into the modern, four-story development it is today has been extraordinary. Thanks to public, private and charitable support, First Place–Phoenix connects residents to jobs and volunteer work, along with retail, restaurants, recreation, the arts, culture, fun and a variety of venues for continuing education. At First Place, adults with autism and other neuro-diversities live in apartments in Phoenix, where they learn and work among their neighbors. This creates a compassionate and understanding environment that benefits everyone.

First Place Apartments in Phoenix are centrally located with access to many urban sites.


Phoenix Sky Harbor

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a great example of the supportive community found throughout 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 the top-selling passive good items for Peet’s at Terminal 4!


GateWay Comm. College

For many First Place Transition Academy participants and residents, GateWay Community College is their first experience on a community college campus. At GateWay, participants engage in a strategically sequenced collection of 32 semester-length courses focused on life skills, career readiness and interpersonal relations. Many participants are also enjoying paid internships on campus.



Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC), First Place’s sister nonprofit, occupies two locations. This is SARRC’s Campus for Exceptional Children where families receive continued support through early intervention and training programs for families, educators and professionals. SARRC’s administrative offices are also based here.


Arizona Diamondbacks

Chase Field is home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and employer to some First Place Transition Academy participants who work as paid interns in a variety of roles.


Phoenix Suns

As a supporter of SARRC and its various programs for over 16 years, the Phoenix Suns participate in an annual Autism Awareness Night each April and offer a variety of seats and ticket packages to accommodate fans at the event.


Lucky Strike Bowling

Future home of the First Place bowling team, Lucky Strike Bowling at CityScape is another location where First Place participants will have fun with their friends.



ASU Downtown, the “compassionate campus,” is collaborating with First Place and SARRC on a collection of research and educational initiatives. Through the First Place Fellowship Program, ASU doctoral and postdoctoral fellows will also be residing at First Place–Phoenix while working with the First Place Leadership Institute.


Burton Barr Central Library

Burton Barr Central Library is home of LibraryWorks, part of SARRC’s CommunityWorks® suite of teen volunteer programs. Here, young adults with and without autism receive training and work experience while contributing to the broader community through their volunteerism.


Arizona School for the Arts

Students from Arizona School for the Arts (ASA) are long-standing participants with CommunityWorks®. ASA students and personnel comprise 80% of the peer mentors who participate in the CommunityWorks® program.


CVS Pharmacy

CVS Pharmacy is one of SARRC’s first major employment partners. One SARRC client has been employed at CVS for more than six years! CVS is just one of the supportive community members who employ our young adults with autism and other special needs.


Phoenix Theatre

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 necessary 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 robust, innovative and collaborative research with leading institutions in Arizona and around the country.


29 Palms

After serving as a beta site for the Transition Academy since 2015, 29 Palms in Phoenix now serves as a residential beta site 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 on their own in this unique apartment property. Graduates can live in eight two-bedroom units co-located with 13 multi-generational units developed by FSL Opens a New Window. .


Phoenix College

Phoenix College is the future home of a collection of First Place/ SARRC-developed courses that will be available to participants beginning in 2018. Like the GateWay Community College campus, Phoenix College will be open to more special learners who are also lifelong learners.


Valley Metro

Connection to the greater community is an integral tenet of First Place. Valley Metro’s extensive and growing light rail and bus systems connect First Place participants and future residents to myriad services, arts, culture, education and healthcare venues throughout Phoenix and neighboring communities. First Place–Phoenix is located within walking distance of Valley Metro rail and bus stops.



St. Joseph’s Hospital & Medical Center/ Barrow Neurological Institute (SJHMC/BNI) 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.


First Place–Phoenix

Located at the northeast corner of Third Street and Catalina and within walking distance of light rail and public transit, this is the site for First Place–Phoenix. The new residential property 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.


Changing Hands Bookstore

Phoenix-based Changing Hands Bookstore is an avid supporter of SARRC, First Place and other local businesses, whose products – including SMILE® Biscotti – are sold in the bookstore's First Draft Book Bar.

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