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Doctoral Fellowship Program

Building the next generation of leaders.

Passionate about the well-being, education and lifelong success of neurodiverse populations?

Does the opportunity to join an innovative groundbreaking project and research team in the heart of downtown Phoenix sound like a good fit for you? Then you might have what it takes to be a First Place fellow.

In partnership with Arizona State University’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and Teach For America, the First Place Doctoral Fellowship in the field of autism focuses on an applied approach to research, assessment and intervention, family support, service coordination, community integration, community development and public policy. Our fellowships aim to develop leaders in the fields of education, training, research and services for adults age 18 and older with autism and other neuro-diversities, with the vision of ensuring that housing and community options are as bountiful for this population as they are for everyone else.

Fellows receive training from First Place Global Leadership Institute staff to work with First Place residents, providing support in functional life skills, wellness coaching, career exploration, community navigation, self-advocacy and social integration. They also participate in applied research geared to advancing the fields of neurodiversity and social work, public policy and more.

Become a First Place Fellow

Goals of the First Place Doctoral Fellowship Program include the development of disciplinary/interdisciplinary expertise and  leadership/consultation skills, as well as participation in research in the fellow’s area of study.

While pursuing one of ASU’s doctoral programs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, fellows reside at First Place, participating in a variety of program activities with adults with autism, including direct support, evaluation, consultation and intervention.

Fellows who are also TFA alumni provide training and mentoring opportunities to TFA corps members supporting children with autism in special and general education classrooms via classroom visits, consultations and the TFA Summer Institute. TFA corps members return to the classroom to help today’s teachers better understand and appreciate the importance and impact of their work. TFA participants can also have a greater impact on life-course outcomes.

The First Place fellowship in the field of autism is a two-year award that includes a part-time ASU staff position with benefits. Fellows assist in research related to adults with autism, as well the development and implementation of programs and activities for First Place Apartments residents and First Place Transition Academy participants.

Fellows report to an ASU doctoral advisor and to the director of the First Place Global Leadership Institute.

First Place Fellowship Duties and Responsibilities


Research & Policy Analysis

  • Support of applied research in autism, both within and outside of the fellow’s area of specialization
  • Participation in longitudinal studies on outcomes for residents and Transition Academy students
  • State and national policy agenda and white paper development
  • Participation in the semi-annual First Place Global Leadership Symposium


Training & Supervision

  • As applicable, supervision of intern(s) participating in the First Place MSW practicum program (for doctoral students in the ASU School of Social Work only)
  • Training and mentoring of TFA corps members who support children with autism in special and general education classrooms


Support for Adults with Autism

  • Direction in social/recreational activities for residents of First Place
  • Instruction in functional skills
  • Mentoring of residents
  • Direction in accessing community-integration activities
  • Assistance in the implementation of individual daily living plans
  • Support of wellness and telehealth programs

First Place Fellowship Benefits

  • Opportunity to make a lasting, lifelong impact among populations with special needs and abilities
  • Professional and personal advancement
  • Access to a vibrant faculty of national experts and change-makers
  • Urban living in a new, modern facility located in the center of a vibrant downtown community and culture
  • Housing with privacy for studying and proximity to the community
  • One bedroom/one bathroom or two bedrooms/two bathrooms (based on availability)

How to Apply

Both the First Place Doctoral Fellowship application and ASU Graduate application must be completed in order to be considered for the program.

First Place Doctoral
Fellowship Application

ASU Graduate