Grantee Spotlight:
Exceptional Minds
Sherman Oaks, CA

Kevin Titcher with Stargate Studios CEO Sam Nicholson

Exceptional Minds is a vocational school and working production studio that fosters remarkable creativity and talent among young adults with autism interested in pursuing a career in the digital arts. The organization, located just miles outside of Hollywood, offers a unique program where young adults with autism receive hands on training in digital animation and visual effects production from experts in the field. The organization was founded in 2009 by a group of parents to address their concern for life after high school for individuals with autism. According to Yudi Bennett, co-founder of Exceptional Minds and the parent of a child with autism, “The picture was so bleak for children aging out of services. So, I found other parents that had a similar concern and we started this program for young adults interested in computers and digital effects. There is nothing like desperate parents to make something positive happen.”

Once pigeonholed into dead-end jobs, these young adults graduating from Exceptional Minds are now being sought out for their visual skills and imagination by renowned movie production companies. Kevin Titcher was a member of the first graduating class of 2014. At 23 years old, Kevin had spent seven years stocking shelves at Albertsons grocery store, but always had a passion for computers and digital animation. Exceptional Minds was able to provide Kevin with the necessary technical skills, as well as ongoing job coaching and job placement services.

As a result, upon graduating from Exceptional Minds, Kevin was immediately hired by Stargate Studios, an international production and visual effects company. He began as a Stock Footage Librarian, responsible for digitizing the tape and film reels for Stargate’s footage library, known as the Virtual Backlot. Within six months, Kevin quickly transitioned to his current position of Digital Compositor, where he has worked on shows including Parenthood, About a Boy, House of Lies, and Twelve Monkeys. According to Sam Nicholson, CEO of Stargate Studios, “I like to think that a company runs on a positive attitude and a ‘can-do’ excitement. That’s the benchmark of Stargate and that’s what Kevin has brought to this company. He’s a great team player.”


Kevin’s training during his three years with Exceptional Minds prepared him for his role and responsibilities at Stargate Studios. Not only did Kevin learn the technical skills he needed to work in a fast pace digital media studio, but he also learned important job readiness skills, including how to create a resume, present himself in an interview, and stick to a daily work schedule. According to Mr. Nicholson, “Young artists want to run before they learn to walk. Kevin took the time to learn the basics of digital media at Exceptional Minds and, in the long run, that is how good artists are built.”

Kevin’s favorite part of the job is learning new things and working with a supportive team. He regularly returns to the Exceptional Minds studio as a guest lecturer to share his work experience with current students enrolled in the program. According to Mr. Nicholson, “When the students become the teachers, you know you’re doing something right!”

Click here to find out more about Exceptional Minds.

Exceptional Minds is one of nearly 50 organizations in 20 states across the country to receive a grant through New York Collaborates for Autism from the proceeds of Comedy Central’s 2012 Night of Too Many Stars benefit.

Save-The-Date for the next Night of Too Many Stars Saturday, February 28, 2015.