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Nonprofit Overview

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

Mission: nonPareil Institute is dedicated to providing technical training, employment and housing to individuals who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. We hope to one day be partially self-sustaining from the products our Crew build and market.

Results: Since opening our doors in 2010, more than 360 adults with autism have received training at nonPareil Institute. We have used their natural enthusiasm for technology as a platform for developing vocational and social skills for increased independence. To-date, nonPareil has hired 58 adults with autism (most part-time, some full-time). For many this was their first job. Some have found part-time work while still training at nonPareil, while others have left nonPareil to join the workforce on a part-time or full-time basis. While training at nonPareil, some adults with autism have taken the important step of moving into an apartment and away from their parents' home for the first time. Others have mastered such steps towards independence as learning to drive or mastering the use of public transit. Most importantly, all have found acceptance - a place where autism is understood and growth towards fulfilled adult living is encouraged.

Target demographics: adults with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder

Direct beneficiaries per year: more than 200 adults with autism!

Geographic areas served: the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston markets

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

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Vicki17

Board Member

Rating: 5

My son has been a crewmember at nonPareil for 6 years, and I have been a volunteer for nonPareil for the same period of time. This organization is life-changing. It gives my son purpose; it gives my son friendships; it gives my son a community of his very own. Luv ya, nonPareil!

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

nonPareil Institute is changing lives every day. It is much more than just a technology company. The adults with autism at nonPareil learn to work together. They learn to be supportive of one another. They learn a sense of community. And they carry that enhanced understanding with them into the world beyond nonPareil. It changes their relationships with their families, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers.

My son said about nonPareil, "Thank you for changing my life." That is exactly what it has done. I've heard many other families say the same. I can't wait until we have the level of game sales and donations support to take this program national. I am so proud to be a part of it.

Read more

Board Member

Rating: 5

My 14-year old son, Ethan, and my wife’s 14-year old son, Trey, are on the autism spectrum. We just found out early last year that our son, four-year old Luke, also has autism. One out of every 68 children today has some form of autism.

Because of Ethan and Trey’s autism affliction, five years ago I worked with the co-founders, Dan Selec and Gary Moore, to start nonPareil Institute -- for training young adults with autism to work in the technology industry, specifically in developing gaming applications and gaming software -- at that time on a "campus" that consisted of Dan's breakfast nook in his home serving three students.

Since then, we have grown to over 150 students on Southern Methodist University's Plano Campus. The students have developed numerous apps for the iPhone and similar devices, and have also developed several computer games – from start to finish. And we just signed an agreement with Nintendo to develop games!

We literally have received emails from all over the world asking about the work we're doing and if we can help children all over the country and around the globe.

For more on nonPareil:


A profile of the amazing work being done at nonPareil Institute is featured in the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of NTX Magazine (the magazine of the North Texas Commission): http://www.joomag.com/magazine/ntx-magazine-spring-summer-2014/0643373001396990159

And Family Circle last month (April is World Autism Awareness Month) did a story profiling nonPareil Institute: http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/volunteering/career-training-for-autistic-young-adults/

nP was featured in USA TODAY in September: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/28/autism-jobs-parents/2839027/#!

nP was featured on CNN in July: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjZq-oiv5uw

nP was also featured last June on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/52162262/#52162262

And, a second trailer for the documentary being made about nP has been released: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5j-3fjmuNc

Previous Stories

Board Member

Rating: 5

My son, Ethan, and my wife’s son, Trey, are on the autism spectrum. We just found out eight months ago that our son, three-year old Luke, also has autism. One out of every 50 children today has some form of autism.

Because of Ethan and Trey’s autism affliction, four years ago I co-founded nonPareil Institute -- for training young adults with autism to work in the technology industry, specifically in developing gaming applications and gaming software -- at that time on a "campus" that consisted of one of the co-founder's breakfast nooks in his home serving three students.

Since then, we have grown to 125 students and have opened offices and classroom space on Southern Methodist University's Plano Campus. The students have developed numerous apps for the iPhone and similar devices, and have also developed several computer games – from start to finish.

We literally have received emails from all over the world asking about the work we're doing and if we can help children all over the country and around the globe.

nonPareil has just signed an agreement with Sony to produce games for their Playstation game console (so exciting) and we're about to release "Lightwire" -- a visually stunning gaming app for the iPhone and iPad. We also just released a fun gaming app called "Dots & Boxes."

We were also featured recently on NBC Nightly News: http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/52162262/#52162262

For more on nonPareil:

KERA Radio in Dallas, part of the NPR digital networks, profiled nonPareil Institute on air and on its Website in the story "Young Adults With Autism Find Work In Tech":


A job training and autism briefing at Dallas City Hall early last month featured my fellow co-founders at nonPareil Institute:


nonPareil was highlighted in the November 30th print and online issue of the Dallas Business Journal:
nonPareil's tech training gives solid future to adults with autism Premium content from Dallas Business Journal by Bill Hethcock, Staff Writer
Date: Friday, November 30, 2012, 5:00am CST - Last Modified: Thursday, November 29, 2012, 3:24pm CST Aaron Winston and Cheryl O’Brien spend much of their day in a darkened room, staring at a computer screen, developing gaming apps for iPhones, iPads, Androids and other smartphone and tablet devices.

In one of Winston’s apps, called Spaceape, a Cosmonaut ape named Dmitri flies around outer space, scooping up bananas and dodging asteroids, comets and aliens. One of O’Brien’s apps, called npiSoroban, is an abacus for the iPad and other devices. The apps are available for 99 cents at app stores.

Winston and O’Brien are former students and current staff programmers at nonPareil Institute, a nonprofit technology company housed on Southern Methodist University’s campus in Plano. Like all of nonPareil’s students and more than half of its 23 staffers, Winston and O’Brien have autism.

The three-year-old institute provides technical training for adults on the autism spectrum, teaching teamwork and skills that enable students and staff to create products, like Spaceape and npiSoroban, for market release.

The institute is growing fast, said Gary Moore, president and co-founder. It had eight students when it opened on the SMU-Plano campus two years ago. Today, it has 93 students and a waiting list of more than 50.

The institute is looking to add a campus in Fort Worth in the next year and ultimately expand nationwide and around the world, Moore said. Word of the institute and its work has spread fast in the autism community, he said.

“There is a tidal wave coming,” Moore said. “From all over the world, we are getting phone calls. There’s nothing else for these adults.”

‘People understand how I’m made up’
Soaring autism rates are driving much of the growth of nonPareil (which means “no equal”), Moore said. The condition is now believed to affect one in 88 children — up from one in 150 just 10 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. During the next 10 years, more than 500,000 people with autism will turn 18, according to the nonprofit Autism Speaks.

Because people with autism may think and act differently, many don’t fit into a typical corporate workplace, so they end up unemployed or in part-time, minimum-wage jobs, Moore said.

“Many of the high-functioning guys are brilliant, but they can’t get a job because they’re different,” Moore said. “We’re trying to build a future for them.”

Winston, who wasn’t working or in school when his mother took him to interview for a student slot at nonPareil, said the institute is a perfect fit for him. After graduating from a North Dallas high school in 2010, Winston signed up for a composition class at Richland College, but never went because he had “too much anxiety,” he said.

“(nonPareil) gave me the skills I needed,” he said. “There is less pressure here and great camaraderie. People understand how I’m made up.”

The institute has proven transformational for O’Brien as well. O’Brien, who has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Houston, was throwing papers, working as a crossing guard and doing part-time clerical work when she heard about nonPareil. She traded those jobs to be a student at nonPareil, and has worked her way into a position as a staff programmer and instructor.

“I like programming and I like making apps,” O’Brien said. “It’s fun.”
Building corporate partnerships
Students at nonPareil pay $600 a month to take classes. The money is used to help keep the nonprofit business running. Revenue from apps goes back to the institute, although so far the apps haven’t racked up big sales, in part because the institute doesn’t have much of a marketing budget, its founders say. App sales totaled about $500 last year.

The goal is for mobile app revenue to sustain nonPareil’s operating budget, CEO Dan Selec said. Selec and Moore co-founded nonPareil along with John Eix in July 2009, and the organization’s first classes were held in Selec’s kitchen. Selec, Moore and Eix, a nonPareil board member who works in business development for Dallas law firm Hunton & Williams LLP, all have sons with autism.

“The thing that the three of us were so passionate about when we began was, once school systems were done with the kids at 18 years old, it’s very difficult for them to move into a corporate environment,” Eix said. “They don’t process information that way and they don’t process emotion that way. But if you put them in an environment where they’re working together, where they appreciate one another because they know what the other one is going through, they just absolutely thrive.”

The institute is building corporate partnerships with companies such as Google, Selec said. That company has a “Google Spectrum Team” which engages people with autism nationwide to work on projects, he said. Google provides licensing to nonPareil for some of its software products, Selec said. The company also uses donated software from Microsoft, Valve and other corporations, he said.

Texas Instruments, Vision2 Systems, Accent Networks and Cinemark Theaters are among the corporate supporters of nonPareil as well, Eix said.

The institute has four apps in the Apple iTunes store, three apps in the Google Play store and another 10 in the pipeline, Selec said. While sales of nonPareil products haven’t taken off yet, it only takes one breakout app — an Angry Birds, for example — to dramatically change a company’s revenue picture, he said.

The institute tries to take a market-driven approach to the employment challenges faced by people with autism, Selec said.

“If we can consistently get product on the market, instead of having this tidal wave of individuals look for a welfare answer or a governmental answer, what we’re focused on is getting them resources they need to learn and earn their own way in their lives,” he said. “Let’s help them live fulfilled lives through the work that they can do.

“We’re committed to giving them the skills that they need to build great products and compete in the marketplace.”
NAME: nonPareil Institute
BUSINESS: App and game development
HEADQUARTERS: 5240 Tennyson Pkwy., Ste. 105, Plano 75024
OWNERSHIP: Nonprofit
PHONE: 972-473-3593
WEB: npitx.org

The Huffington Post profiled nonPareil Institute in its online issue recently:

nonPareil was featured in a recent ComputerWorld article:

We were also just highlighted as part of a story that ran a few months ago on Channel 8 (the ABC affiliate in Dallas):

Also, the documentary filmmaker has been filming a documentary profiling nonPareil. He provided us this trailer in advance of the film’s release later this year:

And also, I made The Dallas Morning News' op-ed section over a year ago:

Board Member

Rating: 5

It has been an absolute privilege to be part of this much needed and very successful organization. The founders Dan and Gary made a leap of faith and commitment few would dare. The result is an organization that is helping hundreds and will soon be thousands of individuals, students and family members alike, providing skills training, a community like no other, and above all hope to those who have few options. The organization deserves the recognition and support to further that vision. The people working there provide selflessly of themselves for the single purpose of providing an opportunity to those who might not be afforded those chances in life we so easily accept for ourselves. And the students are instinctively drawn into the community and opportunity provided. The grand dream of expanding that vision to include housing, work training, life training and work opportunities will be a reality in time.