Taking the time to view these two amazing PBS NewsHour segments filmed right here in Phoenix gives added perspective to what First Place, our sister nonprofit the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center and our collaborating partners are achieving in our connected community and beyond.

While residents have varying levels of communication abilities, we do not currently have nonverbal residents. Those who are minimally verbal also have functional forms of communication to help non-clinical support specialists understand their wants and needs. Most residents also use some form of technology and several bring in third-party clinicians to support their skill development.

As a non-licensed property with a non-clinical staff, First Place is not designed for those with self-injurious or violent behaviors. However, we know things happen, which is why we have a mental health coordinator on staff. Our support specialist team is also trained, educated and experienced in addressing such behaviors. If a resident communicates or displays harm to themselves or others, Adult Protective Services and/or 911 are contacted.

First Place is not only demonstrating greater innovation in housing options for people with autism and other neurodiverse populations, but we’re also paving the way for new models. The First Place Global Leadership Institute is on the forefront of impacting education, employment, housing, healthcare and public policy in service to the special populations we serve. Our aim is to secure government funding enabling families to combine public and private funds, offsetting significant costs and demonstrating how to decrease the cost of living through greater independence and a higher quality of life.

There are many ways to support First Place, including donating, joining us for a tour or attending one of our semiannual Global Leadership Institute symposia. Contact us and let us know more about your interests so we can help you get involved.

Transition Academy

During the Transition Academy’s two-year program, participants live in their own private bedroom in a four-bedroom suite on the first floor of First Place–Phoenix. The program includes our Learn4Independence® life skills curriculum with 32 semester-length courses. 

Transition Academy tuition for 2024 includes a shared apartment unit with a private bedroom, 24/7 concierge, amenities, utilities (electricity, water, cable, Wi-Fi, phone) and instruction at GateWay Community College in Phoenix, where the First Place Learn4Independence® life skills curriculum is taught.

Insurance funding may be available for qualified individuals via our clinical partner Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC), a contracted provider on most insurance plans. With insurance coverage, 2024 tuition may be reduced to $40,810 annually ($3,710/month). However, insurance funding is subject to ongoing reauthorization and is not guaranteed. If there is a lapse in funding, the student and the student’s guarantor will be responsible for the full annual tuition of $86,700 or $7,910/month.

First Place clinical partner Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center (SARRC) is a contracted provider with most insurance plans. With insurance coverage, the 2023 tuition may be reduced to $40,810 annually ($3,710 a month). However, insurance funding is subject to ongoing reauthorization and is not guaranteed. If there is a lapse in funding, the student and the student’s guarantor will be responsible for the full annual tuition of $86,700 or $7,910/month.

We seek counsel from Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, which is staffed with BCBAs who provide clinical services for the First Place Transition Academy.

Residents may live at the First Place Apartments without being enrolled in the Transition Academy. Following the two-year Transition Academy program, graduates may also choose to lease an apartment at First Place–Phoenix.


Apartment leases start at $4,600 per month for one-bedroom apartments. The two-bedroom units are $4,800 per month (single occupant). A suite of supports and amenities—including a 24/7 concierge—and all utilities (electricity, water, cable, Wi-Fi, phone) are included in the monthly rent. Apartment appliances include refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers, washers and dryers.

Here are links to Arizona state organizations where you can make specific inquiries:

First Place is not a group home or a licensed, congregate care or assisted living property. It is not designed to accommodate individuals with high support needs that may include self-injurious and/or violent behaviors or medically fragile conditions. Residents must have some form of functional communication and be able to live in a supportive community. (See Qualifying Criteria.)

First Place’s mental health coordinator has a background in social work. We do not require a specific certification but conduct security and body-positioning training for First Place staff.

We do not offer 24-hour supervision. We do have 24/7 concierge staff.

Apartments are available for one-year leases. Residents in good standing may renew annual leases for an unlimited length of time.

Pets are not permitted at First Place at this time. However, First Place has connections with local nonprofits with potential volunteer opportunities for our resident animal lovers. Service animals are permitted with appropriate documentation of disability-related need.

As often as you like! This is your home and you and/or your family are free to make that decision.

First Place residents can design a supportive environment most appropriate for their individual needs, including assistance with skill building, community connections, health and wellness and various networks for sustainable systems of support that also include family members and friends. As part of the leasing application and exploration process, we work with prospective residents and their families to identify specific support needs, including personal hygiene, cooking, cleaning, transportation, navigating the community, community engagement and working/volunteering.

The First Place support director, coordinators and trained support specialists are available on a daily basis to provide individualized support in the various life skills outlined above. They collaborate to support residents’ vocational/employment goals and assist with planning and facilitating community life activities to encourage resident involvement. Staff can also assist residents in accessing additional community-based, wrap-around supports beyond First Place.

First Place offers a vibrant community life! Residents may choose from a variety of activities designed to build life, social and vocational skills. They also enjoy friendships, group outings and various on-site weekday events. First Place staff are available to support residents in exploring community opportunities aligned with their individual interests. ​

There is no meal plan or group dining offered at First Place. Residents are encouraged to make their own meals as part of their transition to more independent living. Support is offered as needed.
The First Place culinary teaching kitchen, which includes the same major appliances found in each apartment, and support staff help residents build meal preparation and cooking skills. The four-station teaching kitchen also stocks a varied collection of small appliances, pots, pans and utensils not included in the apartments. Visits from guest chefs help residents add variety and fun to their meal planning.
Group dining requires an additional license that would prevent First Place residents from accessing supports through their home- and community-based services (HCBS) waivers.
First Place staff does not provide medical treatment. Residents have access to our on-site Health Spot clinic operated in partnership with Dignity Health. The lead physician refers residents to specialists or other necessary treatment(s).

Have more questions?