Reviewed by the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

$36,752 raised by 116 donors

74% complete

$50,000 Goal

Meristem is a day and independent living skills program that develops practical life skills, social capacities, and transition to work for neurodiverse and autistic young adults ages 18-26.  

In response to the growing demand for programs here in the United States that focus on young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental differences, Meristem opened the Sacramento campus in 2014 on a 13-acre site in Fair Oaks.  Our model originates from the Ruskin Mill Trust that has decades of experience developing and scaling curriculum and programs for young adults with ASD throughout England, helping thousands of students develop independent living skills, establish friendships and participate in meaningful work experience in inclusive communities.  This proven method allows students to gain a positive view of themselves, which translates to the ability to contribute more fully to society and transition to work or higher education.

The program begins with the fundamentals, such as cultivating a sense of responsibility around time and learning to select appropriate attire.  Our students learn resiliency, consistency and other attributes needed to self-manage.  They develop social skills through active listening, following directions and working with others.  In focused workshops, students learn the finer points of resume writing, researching work opportunities and practicing interviewing technique. Finally, our students undergo specific skill training, either in the classroom or in one of the social enterprises.  Students are also supported in working part-time off-campus with businesses and nonprofits.


Meristem's mission is to prepare young adults who are on the autism spectrum/neurodiverse to build a strong sense of self, develop an enhanced social capacity, and create a life of increased social and economic independence. Our vision is a world where the unique capabilities of adults on the spectrum are respected and appreciated so that they can lead full and meaningful lives, with ample opportunities for mainstream employment and independent living.


Student Scholarships - While there is some government funding available to a percentage of our students, there remains a significant funding gap that needs to be filled. Increasing our ability to provide tuition assistance gives students from underserved families the ability to attend our multi-year program.

General Operating Funds - general operating funds are necessary to continue Awakening the Possible at Meristem. Fundraising makes up 60% of the annual budget. We need YOUR support! For donations contact Ryan Pasco at

Curriculum Expansion - We are expanding our current curriculum to accommodate a larger student population, enhance our existing vocational and work skills training programs and grow our outreach efforts so that we can place more students in community internships and further support our students' entry into the workforce.

Workforce Development/Employment Partnerships - Tens of thousands of Californians with autism are unemployed. These people are bright, capable, and willing to work, but it's difficult for them to connect with employers who know how to find, onboard, and retain them. Our Breaking Barriers to Employment (TAP) program was designed to do just that. This program helps California employers successfully hire and work with people with autism and helps them become the valuable employees they have the potential to be.

Volunteer Participation - Past volunteer groups have helped lay the groundwork for a new deck and enhanced garden space. Volunteers Days are available for personal and business requests. For Volunteer Opportunities, contact Twyla Teitzel at

Equity Statement

Meristem is committed to fostering a diverse workforce, and maintaining a workplace that is equitable, inclusive, and safe for all employees. From recruiting practices, to pay and benefits, promotions, and all other aspects of employment with us, an environment of equity is of the utmost importance.

We not only recognize that you, our employees, comprise a wide range of backgrounds and characteristics, but we believe those differences should be celebrated and valued. Whether it's race, religion, gender, national origin, ancestry, color, language, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information/characteristics, veteran status, political affiliation or any other characteristic, these are parts of each of you that contribute to your experiences as humans, and ultimately to the knowledge and expertise that make you a valuable asset to the Company.

Meristem is committed and determined that there is access, opportunity, and advancement for all individuals. We are always looking for ways in which we can cultivate an inclusive work environment, strengthen our cultural competency, and train our managers and employees to provide opportunities for growth and development.

It is our intention that all our employees, regardless of any particular background or characteristic, are always treated with respect and dignity. Likewise, we expect that as our employees, you treat your coworkers, Managers and other team members with the same dignity and respect at all times.

Disrespect, inappropriate behavior or conduct toward others will not be tolerated and may subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Organization Data


Organization name


Year Established


Tax id (EIN)


Mission Category

Youth Development

Operating Budget

$1,000,001-$5 million

Organization Need

Funding: Program, Funding: Unrestricted, Board Members, Volunteers

Demographics Served

Individuals with disabilities

Local Counties Served

El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yolo

Equity Statement

Equity Statement


9200 Fair Oaks Blvd.
Fair Oaks, CA 95628

Service areas

Sacramento, CA, US

Placer, CA, US

Los Angeles, CA, US

San Francisco, CA, US

Roseville, CA, US


916 963 1000

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