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nonPareil Institute

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Autism, Developmentally Disabled Centers, Disabilities, Health, Human Services, Job Training, Vocational Rehabilitation

Mission: nonPareil Institute is dedicated to building better futures for adults with autism.

Results: nonPareil Institute is a post-secondary, not-for-profit, innovative program. We offer hope to adults on the spectrum, enabling them to acquire skills and enhance their ability to live a more meaningful and independent life. We provide person-centered training and support in technology, vocational, life and social skills. Our goal is to help each student (Crew) find their passion and reach their full potential. nonPareil has a proven track record of assisting this underserved group of people and successfully preparing them for increased independence and fulfilling lives. Some are able to pursue employment at nonPareil upon completion of their training. Others wish to pursue or return to college, while many transition into meaningful employment upon leaving nonPareil. We have helped over 500 adults with autism and are currently serving 220 Crew Members between our Plano and Houston operations. Orlando and Austin campuses will be opening within the next few weeks. 69% of adults with autism who have attended nonPareil for 36 months or more have gone on to employment or higher education.

Target demographics: adults with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder

Direct beneficiaries per year: more than 240 adults with autism!

Geographic areas served: the Dallas-Fort Worth & Houston markets; opening in Orlando and Austin in 2019. More cities to come!

Programs: technical, vocational and social skills training in order to help them lead fulfilled lives

Community Stories

143 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

6 Bob N.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son who is on the Autism Spectrum has been a Crew Member at nonPareil since February 2014. non Pareil has done wonders for my son, he has opened up, taken more responsibility for his daily life and handling situations presented to him. Not to mention the computer, writing and life skills training he is receiving. The crew and staff at nonPareil are top notch in their daily dealings with the Crew Members!

4

Client Served

Rating: 3

I was a crew member there for several years. During this time the President - now President & CEO - would ask me to do a variety of interpersonal tasks and jobs because of my relatively high social aptitude compared to many other crew members. With at least one of them, he clearly said that he would talk about paying me eventually - a talk that never came.

When crew members would complain, the President would give me very little guidance and constructive feedback, instead reporting to my parents - the main source of support. I felt like he was essentially blaming me for the very things he was telling me to do. When I would report to him, it would frequently take weeks for him to follow back with me. When I would ask him for what rules he wants put in place, he would say, "we'll take care of that soon" or something to that effect. It was very disenchanting for me to basically "play the bad cop" with crew that saw me more as a peer than an authority figure when the President would pay me little mind and no money.

Meanwhile, I continued to pay tuition (without discount) while working for free (frequently over 2 dozen hours a week) - having to rely on neurotypical staff already well-laden with their own burdens and dealing with the same headaches that the President has been historically guilty of causing. The tasks that he delegated to me greatly cut into my time that I could have spent focused on the technical skills I paid for and get my tuition money’s worth. My "job" - unlike being an instructor - didn't have any formal class, and I had to mostly teach myself how to handle many of the interpersonal tasks.

I honestly lost track of the hours I was never financially compensated for long ago...

From what I’ve heard, the new Director of the Plano office allegedly won’t let crew members work hours beyond what they’re paid to avoid some type of complaints for a government-run labor board. He was hired by the President (who is now also the CEO). I don’t quite understand why it was okay to allow unpaid hours from so many crew in years past; but now recently they suddenly worry about such complaints damaging the company?! The same President has been in position both before and after this was put in place.

This same President has been a part of nonpareil since they started hiring those on the autistic spectrum. The same President has also witnessed at least several crew members work more hours than they're paid while allowing to perpetuate the message that they'll one day "make more money" or "get more hours" at the company. The same President who has "stacked the deck in his favor" by filing the company's board with people he was either friends with before nonpareil, knew, or made deals with (that the former CEO allegedly hasn't). The same President who now has even more power with the former CEO and original neuro typical staff gone. The same President who replaced these ex-employees with relatively technology-illiterate sycophants taking their place. The same President who witnessed - and is far from innocent - of all these misfortunes (thus sharing responsibility and blame whether he'd like to or not). He knew they were going on and he had the lion’s share of power! The same President who points the finger at everyone else as the problem and never facing the "man in the mirror."

That same President now allows his Director to keep "the poor little aspies" from burdening themselves because "we care and we love you." I've lost track of how many times he's said, "I love you" and "I care about you" to someone he's lied to, broken promises with, and otherwise backstabbed. Perhaps he really just cares about the mass of quiet anger directed at the company he leads?! This man is indeed a parasitic charlatan!

Where was the concern for crew working extra hours for free years ago?! I guess maybe I should go to a government-run labor board then!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a parent volunteer, I was fortunate enough to see first hand how this growing nonprofit loves on the young men and women they kindly call, "the crew." The amount of effort and compassion the staff deliver each and every day is astonishing. My son attends this amazing organization and was hired on as a part-time instructor. Dealing with autism as a parent is exhausting, but this staff go above and beyond every day for almost 220 individuals. My hat is off to nonPareil Institute!

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

I've been involved with nonPareil for five years, first as a donor, then volunteer, and now board member. I have great admiration for the people in this organization. They are committed to their mission "to build better futures for adults with autism". NonPareil's staff continues to learn, improve, and innovate while pursuing this mission. As they expand to new cities this year and in future years, I have no doubt their success will continue and grow, and they will help thousands of adults with autism reach their full potential.

11

Donor

Rating: 3

The Chief Program Officer of nonpareil arrived very drunk and carrying a pack of beer, to one of nonPareil’s live improv performances.
These performances are hosted by the “Stomping Grounds Comedy Theatre”.
The theatre’s alcohol policy is BYOB, which is featured in the theatre’s “Buzzed: interactive Improv” show, which was held on March 16, 2019.

The show put on by nonpareil has performers on the Autism Spectrum, who are students of nonPareil.
It is not appropriate for the CPO to be drunk when he is at a nonPareil event with students.

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/18/2019

nonPareil employees are focused on engaging with crew and families during public events. This particular venue does not sell alcoholic beverages. The accusations against staff are unfounded.

7 Michael149

Donor

Rating: 5

Our son attends nonPareil and learns not just a variety of technical skills, but also how to work in a team, how to communicate with others, time-management, and all those other soft-skills that employers expect. I'm aware of numerous student employment success stories, it just takes longer to get them there. The instructors and staff are amazing with their long hours, patience, and dedication. The gaming focus of the Institute is key because it motivates students, and without motivation, no learning takes place.

Previous Stories
4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Extraordinary group of dedicated individuals who are providing a future for young adults with autism.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with many nonprofits over the years, but none as rewarding as my time spent with nonPareil. I've been a volunteer for several years now helping with anything from marketing efforts, events like the golf tournament fundraiser, to helping paint their ever-growing office in Plano. I've developed friendships with the crew and have seen their progress first-hand. It is truly an 'all hands on deck' work environment, and this expectation of their employees carries over into the classes where the crew learn different modules for game development. The crew is responsible for their own schedule which is great for learning self-reliance, and with instructors, crew members are held accountable for their schedule commitments. It's such a unique place and as a volunteer, I do whatever needs to be done because I believe in the cause.

The laughter and smiles I am greeted with each time I walk in the building are so refreshing and remind me how much of an impact this great company has on the many families involved in the nP community. It's an atmosphere of hope, support, friendship, and knowledge.

As in most cases, what you put in is what you get out. Working with individuals on the spectrum is a true calling that some later learn may not be for them, but for those who have their hearts open to it, you're in store for some of the most rewarding experiences in your life! My cousin, who has since passed, struggled with being on the spectrum, and I always wished he had an nP kind of community where he could just be himself and learn to communicate with peers.

They recently completed renovations in Plano and the new CORE break room keeps the crew focused on their classes and not spending too much time on break. These are exciting times for nonPareil and I can't wait to see where the new leadership team and new CEO/President, Gary, take this organization!

Review from Guidestar

14

Donor

Rating: 2

On October 7, 2017, Nonpareil held a fundraiser to help support those on the autistic spectrum. During this event, the funding for a bus to transport the crew was raised in the form of some $50,000.

I can see how crucial this need is for many of those that attend Nonpareil, especially those that cannot drive. It was framed that the social events would be expanded and that more engagement would result. My question is, what is holding this up? These monies were fully funded over one and a half years ago. I imagine that those who have donated over the years are as equally frustrated as myself. This was pitched as a vital request and yet nothing has been done.

I have been patient with this organization as it is small and chronically understaffed. But this issue make me question whether the senior leadership can collectively do its job. This is no small sum of money generously given to help. What has become of these funds?

More importantly, what happens if the bus never shows up?

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/11/2019

Proceeds from that fundraiser request – less than $50,000 – were never adequate to purchase a bus, provide maintenance and insurance for a bus and pay a driver for the bus. All who donated towards that proposed project have been contacted; nearly all have generously agreed to allow their donations to be moved to other, more vital needs. nonPareil has expanded social events considerably since 2017. Carpooling is almost always available to help Crewmembers participate.

14

Client Served

Rating: 2

The nonpareil institute in Plano has taken a Major Turn for the Worse...
It is very scary to think that it is the same place I enrolled my son, almost 8 years ago. From the very beginning he was super excited to be apart of the nonpareil institute and to get to make video games. As a parent, I thought the nonpareil institute was the place for him to have a successful adult life. He always did exceptionally well in school, but college was turning out to be too challenging to navigate.
Intelligence was not the issue, so I thought the nonpareil institute was the answer.
I was correct for many years.
In early 2018, there was a mandatory parent meeting. At this meeting one of the dads who started nonpareil, who is now the Ceo and President, said there was going to be a “pivot”. He also introduced the new Chief Program Officer. They both spoke of a coming change, but didn’t really say what that change would be. This “pivot” is what was probably the beginning of the end for my son’s time at the nonpareil institute.
He did great for many years learning and working with the past Art Director, past Head Level Designer, and past Programming Technical Director, whom all got forced out of the nonpareil institute, because of this “pivot”. He worked on multiple games and apps under their guidance. This gave him the confidence and the ability to make games, which was his dream. He called them the A-Team because they were like super heroes to him.

The past year has been very difficult for my son at the nonpareil institute.
Without the A-Team, he feels abandoned and constantly overlooked.
He asks for tasks to work on and to be included in projects, which are very similar tasks to those the Head Level Designer and the Programming Technical Director had assigned him previously.
On several occasions my son was told by one of the a game project leaders that they would love his help, as he is very capable in a couple of game making disciplines.
Then, unfortunately the next day the Director of Operations approached and informed him that he wasn’t permitted to work on the project, without providing an an explanation to my son.
So after a month of my son coming home emotionally wounded, I met with the President/Ceo and the Director of Operations.
They told me my son needed to move to a beginners course, which he had already taken years ago successfully. They did not really give my son or myself a choice, so I convinced him to give it a try. At my urging he has been trying the course for months now, but is bored by the lack of being challenged and he feels unwanted by the current staff.
Everyday he begs me to let him quit going to the nonpareil institute.
Sadly, I am at wits end with the nonpareil institute in Plano and I’m about to give him his wish.
My family used to love to tell everyone about the nonpareil institute.
Although, really we should have been telling everyone how much of a blessing the A-Team was for my son. Now they are gone and all of the joy and meaning for my son at the nonpareil institute left with them.

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/11/2019

We are sorry you feel nonPareil has not met your expectations. 10 years ago, few companies were willing to hire adults with autism. nonPareil was founded on the idea that these adults could learn video game technology and create games to be marketed by nonPareil. Over time, more companies have been willing to hire adults with autism and/or partner with nonPareil to provide work opportunities. Crewmembers needed a more structured approach to learn workplace readiness skills. The “pivot” was to focus not only on developing adults with autism to work on video games, but also to work outside of nonPareil in technology and other industries. nonPareil has started to partner with companies that can outsource work to adults with autism who are part of the our program. In 2019 nonPareil is adding a vocational track to teach skills with the goal of Google IT certification of Crewmembers in this program. To-date, nonPareil has provided more than 140,000 hours of employment for adults with autism.

18

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I volunteered in the social room of Nonpareil one summer. I have also participated in the fundraiser golf tournament and other Nonpareil events. I became emotionally connected to the beautiful goals and missions of Nonpareil. The purpose of providing gainful employment and a positive experience for adults on the autism spectrum is important and something that I wanted to contribute to in any way that I could. While following the non-profit as well as my observations of the actual day to day operations, I became disillusioned with the supposedly world changing company. Nonpareil publicly speaks encouragingly about the great abilities of adults on the autism spectrum and how they can find success by enrolling in Nonpareil. Nonpareil marketed the company as a place that would teach adults on the autism spectrum to work on projects as programmers, designers, writers, artists, 3D modelers and more. I saw firsthand the amazing abilities of these adults with special needs. I also saw their desire to work, produce, help one another, and broaden their social skills. Unfortunately, instead of these adults being engaged, encouraged, and given opportunities matching their capabilities, Nonpareil, too often, limited these talented young adults on the spectrum by denying their requests for learning new skills and working. In addition, Nonpareil used the social room as a place to keep the lower functioning autistic adults from disturbing the people Nonpareil deemed as more capable and worth investing time in. The social room could have been used as a place to build social skills and confidence in their social interactions, however there was nobody qualified to help with social skills. Instead, the main goal was to facilitate video game playing and avoid any major disturbances. So many more of these adults could contribute so much more if Nonpareil gave them the chance. What I do not understand is that I thought it was Nonpareil's mission to teach, encourage, and employ these adults on the autism spectrum by giving them a future. Unfortunately, Nonpareil is completely failing them. I would love to see the executives at Nonpareil help these talented adults on the autism spectrum and provide the employment that they need and deserve. I am hopeful for this to happen someday, but a change in leadership and operations is necessary.

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/11/2019

To-date, nonPareil has provided over 140,000 hours of employment to adults with autism, with nearly 100 adults with autism having worked at nonPareil for some period of time. Thanks to new partnerships with outside corporations, nonPareil is now bringing in technology-related work so that more adults with autism than ever are now employed at nonPareil. nonPareil staff include a psychologist, a licensed professional counselor and several employees with extensive teaching and counseling backgrounds. This professional staff has helped nonPareil build a robust program of non-technical training in workplace readiness, social skills and communication skills to round out the technical program which was the origin of nonPareil. The social room is used not only as a place where Crewmembers can take a break, but also as a place where they can participate in structured social skills learning activities under guidance of professional staff.

19

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

The Executives at nonPareil are motivated by money and donations, helping adults on the autism spectrum is not their priority.

While having a close working relationship with the CEO, the CEO often casually said disconcerting remarks, which countered his fidelity to nonPareil and it’s mission statement.
For example, the CEO and I walked past a crew member, who routinely exhibited demeaning and insulting behavior to the other crew members. Several, crew members cried as a result of an interaction with this crew member. Historically, this behavior at nonPareil is not tolerated and can ultimately end in “expulsion”. The CEO proceeded to tell me,”‘this crew member’ has an elderly relative, who is going to eventually give nonPareil a very large donation.”. Intimating that, even though this crew member is problematic, we have to keep him here so we can get the “large donation”.

Also, The CEO once told me, “I bought myself this new sports car and I am going to give my son, who just learned to drive, my previous sports car.” Then following up by saying,
“nonPareil’s Board thought the CEO and The President were doing a good job, so they gave us raises this year.”

This is greatly contrasted by nonPareil’s lack of employment of and equal financial compensation for those who are on the Autism Spectrum. At the time of the CEO’s and President’s raises there were 150 crew members in total. Only 4 were full time employees and about 10 were part time employees.
The CEO and President motivate the crew, by the promise of a “job”. The expectation was, you have to work consistently 15+ hours a week without pay, in order to prove yourself. The length of time it takes to “prove yourself” could be anywhere from next month to its 4 years later and the executives are still promising them that “job”.
Also, the hourly wage is $10, regardless of the Autistic employees tasks. For the many highly skilled crew members, who want to become a full time employee, the CEO and President have told them individually and as a group that they definitely would love to hire them but nonPareil doesn’t have the money to.
All the while the CEO and President expect the crew to put in a full work week, if they want to eventually become a full time employee.
There are several part time employees at nonPareil, who have been consistently working 40+ hour weeks, since 2012.
That means they make $150 a week, working full time job hours. The resulting total yearly income adjusted for nonPareil breaks, would be about $6,900, which would equate to $3.5 per hour for a part time employee, who puts in the expected hours, based on the workload and assigned tasks.
Who is really making the money at a nonprofit for Autistic Adults to find employment?

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/11/2019

Since 2013, nonPareil has employed 30 or more adults with autism every year. 2019 employment of adults with autism at nonPareil will be higher than ever. nonPareil has always paid above the minimum wage and has always had a variety of pay rates, depending on the particular job. New partnerships with outside companies are bringing additional work opportunities to adults with autism at nonPareil. In addition, in 2019 nonPareil is adding a vocational track which will give Crewmembers the opportunity to study towards Google IT certification in several technology fields. Founding CEO Dan Selec left nonPareil in 2018. Founding President Gary Moore took on the additional title of CEO after Selec left.

18

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

The Past CEO and and the Current President/CEO Co-Founders are extremely manipulative and unabashedly discriminate against the LGBTQ community.

Being privy to closed door conversations, I was told two abhorrent things by the CEO.

1. They tried to rehabilitate an Autistic Transgender woman, but “He” wasn’t willing to let them “mentor him”, so they would not hire “him”. But, the CEO said this Transgender Woman is now a member of a dangerous and powerful community, so we have to be very careful about how we handle homosexuals, because he might catch wind of it.

2. The CEO spoke to me and The Chief Technology Officer, about an openly gay computer programmer on the Autism Spectrum at nonPareil. The CEO said “We cannot make him leave but we can make him want to leave so it is his idea.”

This is 100% the discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community.

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/11/2019

The Board of nonPareil Institute passed a nondiscrimination policy in 2010. nonPareil adheres to that policy in hiring as well as admittance and support of adults with autism to its program.

Review from Guidestar

18

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

They are not who they say they are. They literally put garbage into crew members (the ones on the spectrum) and just walk away. They treat them as if they don’t have a brain and the management is so poor. nP could have been something, something big, but they are doing everything wrong. They underpay all the staff, spectrum and neurotypical, and hide it in between the lines in the books. There is also a huge discrimination issue at nP. They underestimate the crew and they treat them like toddlers. nP corporate staff do not treat the crew like equals.

Comments ( 1 )

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nPStaff 04/11/2019

More than 2/3’s of the adults with autism who have left nonPareil after 3 or more years either found employment or were able to further their higher education. To-date, nearly 100 adults with autism have been employed by nonPareil. For many, this was their first job. Others have gotten the vocational and social skills experience they needed in order to find jobs in the community, move into an apartment for the first time, get a driver’s license and reach other milestones of independent adult life.

9 Stephanie C.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The nonPareil Institute does an amazing job of creating an empathetic, growth-focused environment where individual differences and strengths are celebrated and built upon.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such an incredible non profit that provides such a unique experience to adults with ASD. It is so clear that everyone involved is dedicated and truly loves what they do.

9 Mark T.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son has attended nonPareil for almost five years. In that time his skills as a digital artist have increased significantly, but even more importantly, his soft-skills and ability to work with other Crew members, Staff members, and everyone that he comes in contact with has seen a dramatic and positive increase. He has gained an increased sense of responsibility and self-worth. He works and trains with amazing Staff and has built a circle of friends with similar interests.

9

Donor

Rating: 5

Our son loves coming to "work" at nonPareil Institute. He gets up early everyday and even showers! He has found his place!

Previous Stories
7

Donor

Rating: 5

My son started at nonPareil Institute in October 2010 and has since found his "place!" We tried other technical ventures for him, but he is very withdrawn and doesn't talk to others. But around the gentle instructors at the institute, he has come out of his shell and is thriving! He even has friends!!

8

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son has found such a great community of friends and feels very accepted.

7

Client Served

Rating: 4

My adult son has Asperger's Syndrome and enjoys working in an environment that is accepting and flexible to his needs. I have great gratitude for nPI.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son is not only learning skills to help him obtain employment, he is learning life skills. He has gained confidence in himself. He has participated in career building exercises, social events, and social skills building. When we didn't know where to go for him, we found nonPareil, and it has been a very good fit for him. They understand adults on the autism spectrum and accept him for who he is. The computer skills he is learning will help him get a full time job that can use his potential.