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Opening Up: Life at First Place.

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Global Leadership Institute Names New Center for Public Policy

October 2018

The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation, the nation's first not-for-profit organization to focus exclusively on adult autism, recently announced the establishment of a $100,000 endowment fund at ASU. Working closely with the First Place Global Leadership Institute, The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation Fellow will work on developing a national public policy agenda to spotlight pressing issues impacting the lives of adults with autism and their families.

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It’s Official: Meet First Place–Phoenix!​


Attendance of opening ceremony and housewarming events at First Place–Phoenix was a wonderful show of support from the Phoenix community. Attendees heard from local and state leaders, who have welcomed First Place with open arms as we usher in a new era with the goal of ensuring that housing and community options are as bountiful for adults with autism and special abilities as they are for everyone else.​

Our Doors Are Open


Join us on Saturday, September 29 at 4 p.m. for the first in a series of open houses and see what makes First Place so special. Experience our one-of-a-kind home and explore what's behind our many different doors. Team members will be available to share more about leasing opportunities.

Moving Day—Only 20+ Years in the Making!​​


The first week of July ushered in a virtual beehive of activity with the opening of First Place–Phoenix on July 2. From the steady stream moving into the brand-new building to a wide range of welcome and orientation activities, residents, participants, family members and staff were busy transforming First Place into “home.”

Congratulations, Transition Academy Grads!


Congratulations to the 2018 graduating class of the First Place Transition Academy. Each graduate’s certificate represents two years of hard work, applying what they have learned through the 32-course Learn4IndependenceTM Curriculum.

Countdown to First Place Spring Symposium


Pioneering organizations and interested families are gathering in Phoenix for this semiannual, two-day event to learn more about what they can do in their communities and neighborhoods to support individuals with autism and other special abilities.

Progress of First Place–Phoenix Construction


Take a look at the transformation of the First Place–Phoenix construction site at Catalina Drive and Third Street, thanks to our team at hardison/downey construction and RSP Architects.

Roth Family Announces Scholarship


The Roth Family Foundation has granted First Place®AZ $50,000 for a two-year “Make Waves” scholarship of $25,000 per year to be awarded to a qualified student of the First Place Transition Academy.

Join Us Saturday, Jan. 13 for a Hard Hat Tour


You’re invited to a behind-the-scenes look at First Place–Phoenix, currently under construction in the heart of the city. The 81,000-square-foot, $15 million property is opening to residents this summer.


First Place Recognized with Architectural Award


The Phoenix Mayor’s Commission on Disability Issues has recognized First Place-Phoenix with its Architectural Award. Special thanks to RSP Architects of Tempe and hardison/downey construction of Phoenix for creating supportive spaces for residents to learn, grow, thrive and succeed.

Symposium Promotes Community Development


First Place®AZ’s fall Global Leadership Institute Symposium for service providers, developers, educators and families focused on building a supportive community and included workshops on building community connections, fundraising and advancing collaborations with public, private, philanthropic and nonprofit interests.

First Place Welcomes Mary Martuscelli to Board of Directors


Mary Martuscelli has been elected to the First Place® AZ Board of Directors. Martuscelli is U.S. Bank’s regional president for the Western U.S. She previously served as the president of J.P. Morgan Chase in Arizona and as a board member of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC).

Learn About Leasing Opportunities at First Place® Apartments


A zen room, culinary teaching kitchen, game room, sports pool and a fitness center are a few of the amenities at First Place–Phoenix. Learn about our amenities and services and apartments. Leasing reservations are now being accepted. Opening late spring ’18.

Women Represented at National ASA Conference


Valerie Paradiz, Ph.D., director of the First Place Global Leadership Institute, recently presented at the 49th Annual Autism Society National Conference in Milwaukee, WI about high-functioning females with autism spectrum disorder.

Apt Info Coming Soon


Leasing packages will be distributed next month to those who have registered interest in the First Place Apartments. You’ll also be able to locate the package on our website under Apartments-Floor Plans.

First Place Graduates


Congratulations to participants who recently graduated from the two-year First Place Transition Academy program! They worked hard to earn their Certificate in Life Skills. “We strive to be student-ready for everyone who comes through our doors,” said Frank Zamora, M.Ed.

New Website Is Live!


We’re proud to introduce our newly designed website. Enormous thanks to our web development team: Neil Lumantarna of Crefio for leading the design and build; photographers Steven G. Dreiseszun and Sydnee Schwartz, film producers Reel Stories and Great Scott Productions; and the DRA Collective team.

Piper Grants $1.43M


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.

$1M from Stardust


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!


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.

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.

$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.

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.

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 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 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.

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.

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.

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.


$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!

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.

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.