A nonprofit named Exceptional Minds is helping students with autism channel their creativity into a Hollywood career. What’s unique is that the Sherman Oaks based organization is one part school and one part animation house.

That means graduates can start working immediately on gigs while they look for a full-time job.

Instructor Alyssa Zelman teaching class at Exceptional Minds

“We’re teaching them things like 2D animation, 3D animation, game level design,” said Exceptional Minds Academic Dean Timothy Dailey.

The Los Angeles area nonprofit school uses the latest technology to teach.

“We’re basically learning and dealing with everything that we’re going to be using whenever we get into new jobs,” said student Stefan Morgan.

Students are taught job skills and skills for a job.

“It’s cool finding out that I’m not alone and there are people I can talk to,” said Matthew Rhode, a student at the academy.

Exceptional Minds caters to neurodiverse students, specifically those on the autism spectrum.

“The student may have a little of a different perspective on the world,” explained Dailey.

The environment is friendly and welcoming.

“The challenge for someone on the spectrum in this day and age is for the world not to stereotype them and not let that stigma get to them,” said Dailey.

Exceptional Minds students with tech reporter Rich DeMuro

Students proudly show off their growing portfolios and work on animations in class.

Some equipment is provided by Apple’s Community Grants program. Students lean heavily on drawing tablets, computers and the latest software used by studios.

“Essentially it’s just about them showing hey, I have the capability of doing this… I have the capability of being successful in this way,” said Dailey.

Exceptional Minds student Stefan Morgan

One key aspect to the program: Exceptional Minds also runs a real animation studio under the same roof so once students graduate, they can take on gigs while they look for a full-time job.

“We get real clients, we get real budgets and real deadlines… and in that way they can work on projects and build a resume and apply for different jobs,” said Scott Sackett, animation director at Exceptional Minds.

Exceptional Minds student Matthew Rhode

A program that builds creativity and confidence for meaningful results.

“Drawing attention to us I think will lead to positive social change in workplaces,” concluded Rhode.