Exceptional Minds Vocational School Receives Autism Speaks Grant for Job Development Program Preparing Young Adults on the Spectrum for Careers in Computer Animation

The Exceptional Minds vocational school model holds promise as 500,000 young adults living with an autism spectrum disorder begin to age out of the school system and enter adulthood with few job prospects.

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Exceptional Minds school and working studio for young adults on the autism spectrum.

Exceptional Minds, vocational school for young adults on the autism spectrum

We are proud to support innovative programs such as Exceptional Minds that can help people with autism lead a life with purpose, respect and dignity.

Sherman Oaks, CA (PRWEB) January 12, 2013

Exceptional Minds, a new computer animation vocational school for young adults with autism, has been awarded a 2012 Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant as one solution to the rising number of young adults on the spectrum entering adulthood with little or no job prospects.

Exceptional Minds is a vocational school specifically for young adults on the spectrum with a proven, three-year program that is now preparing these young men and women for lifelong careers in the fields of animation, computer graphics and post-production. It was established in 2011 by visionaries in the film and visual effects industry to create a bridge between high school and the working world for individuals with ASD and quickly gained notoriety as a model for “what’s next” in autism as the first school of its kind to earn industry-recognized accreditation for its students and to provide them with working experience in the industry, including title work for major motion picture Lawless.

Now entering its second year, 95% of Exceptional Minds students have met or exceeded proficiency requirements for Adobe certification in animated graphics, and several more students have gone on to meet or exceed proficiency requirements for Adobe certification in web design and graphics.

The $25,000 grant by Autism Speaks, which was awarded last month, will bolster the vocational school’s training and job development program.

“This grant is an important milestone for us at Exceptional Minds and for anyone who believes in a better future for our youth with autism. Together, with help of the autism community and Autism Speaks, we can make a lasting difference for our students and for many others with spectrum disorders,” said Yudi Bennett, the director of operations for Exceptional Minds, and the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum.

Exceptional Minds was one of 16 organizations selected for the 2012 Autism Speaks Family Services Community Grant program totaling $350,000.

“Like Exceptional Minds, Autism Speaks believes in tapping into the unique and valuable talents of individuals living with an autism spectrum disorder. We are proud to support innovative programs such as Exceptional Minds that can help people with autism lead a life with purpose, respect and dignity,” agreed Peter Bell, Executive Vice President for Programs and Services for Autism Speaks.

More than 500,000 youth on the spectrum are expected to age out of the school system in the next ten years, even as few programs exist preparing them for careers. According to a recent study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, one in three young adults with autism lack job experience and college or technical training eight years after high school graduation.

The vocational school, a 501(c) (3) charitable organization, started its second school year in August with a waiting list for enrollment and plans to expand its facility to accommodate a growing student population expected to double every three years. “We’re not the answer for everyone with autism. But we are an answer for many and a model for many others who might not do well in a university or other school setting that doesn’t provide the support, the instruction and the environment they need,” said Bennett.    

Autism Speaks joins Newman’s Own Foundation, Tom Hanks, DreamWorks Animation, Adobe Systems, Bob Stevenson, Neil Young and other Exceptional Minds sponsors in providing funding for the school in order to help meet the groundswell of demand by young adults on the spectrum in need of job skills.

All donation details are on the school’s website.

About Exceptional Minds (http://www.exceptionalmindsstudio.org):
Exceptional Minds is a non-profit vocational center and working production studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. Chartered in 2011 to provide the training necessary for visually-gifted individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who may not otherwise be able to make the transition from high school to the working world, Exceptional Minds offers technical proficiency and work readiness skills that prepare students for careers in graphic arts, animation, web design, visual effects and rotoscoping. Located in Sherman Oaks, California, Exceptional Minds is both an instructional learning facility and a working studio with hands-on student involvement in production projects, many for the film industry.


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Exceptional Minds school and working studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. The majority of Exceptional Minds students living with an autism spectrum disorder have received industry-recognized Adobe accreditation for proficiency in animation graphics.

A $25,000 grant from Autism Speaks will help Exceptional Minds students prepare for careers in computer animation and post production.