Exceptional Minds Receives Education Award

Exceptional Minds Recognized for Educating Individuals with Autism

School for young adults with autism recognized by San Fernando Valley leaders for its unique training program that prepares individuals with autism for careers in visual effects and animation.

Exceptional Minds was honored during the 21st Annual Valley of the Stars Gala and Awards Ceremony held at the City of Calabasas Civic Center last night.  

The nonprofit school and working studio for young adults with autism received the “Star of the Valley” Education Award, sharing the evening’s spotlight with former Los Angeles Laker superstar Derek Fisher, who received the Arts and Entertainment Award; Maria’s Italian Kitchen founder Madelyn Alfano, who received the Business Award; and Goodwill Southern California Chief Executive Patrick McClenahan, who received the Humanitarian award. Since its founding in 1998, the annual gala honors individuals and organizations that have helped grow and strengthen the economy, improve the quality of life in communities, and bring national recognition to the San Fernando Valley.

We are grateful for this recognition and the countless other ways our unique and talented Exceptional Minds are embraced by the community.

Yudi Bennett, Exceptional Minds Co-Founder

The award ceremony is hosted annually by Sherman Oaks-based The Valley Economic Alliance (www.thevalley.net) whose mission is to engage and unite Valley stakeholders to raise standards of living and economic vitality across the San Fernando Valley.

“We are grateful for this recognition and the countless other ways our unique and talented Exceptional Minds are embraced by the community,” said Bennett, who accepted the award on behalf of the students, staff and board members of Exceptional Minds.

Exceptional Minds is currently the only school of its kind to successfully prepare and place young adults on the spectrum visual effects and animation careers. Its graduates have gone on to work in major studios, and for movies such as Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Black Panther as well as Universal’s The Mummy, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.  

Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the U.S. The vast majority of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed, accounting for the lowest employment rate of all individuals with disabilities. Now in its seventh year, Exceptional Minds has grown from its single classroom beginnings to become a thriving $3 million nonprofit that has served more than 600 individuals with autism. It continues to forge new career paths for people with autism as a pioneer in individualized instruction, career development and employer education.

Source: Dee McVicker