Actors Jack Huston and John Boyega accepted a grant on behalf of Exceptional Minds during the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s (HFPA) annual Grants Banquet held at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, last night.
The HFPA, which annually hands out the Golden Globe awards, presented more than $2 million in donations to non-profit entertainment-related organizations such as Exceptional Minds, the industry’s cutting-edge school for young adults with autism pursuing careers in visual effects and related fields.
“It is personally gratifying to be part of an industry that shows such acceptance and support for these unique individuals, many of whom are being recognized for their talents for the first time in their lives,” said Yudi Bennett, co-founder and Director of Operations for Exceptional Minds, located in Sherman Oaks, Calif.
The $15,000 HFPA grant will fund new computer technology for Exceptional Minds’ working studio that is providing jobs and experience for the school’s graduates. Exceptional Minds Studio has a close working relationship with the visual effects industry and is well-known for its visual effects and title work on movies such as “Ant-Man,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and “American Hustle.”
Currently, the majority of the nation’s 3.5 million people with autism are unemployed or underemployed, according to government statistics. More than 500,000 U.S. children impacted by autism will enter adulthood during this decade, with one in 68 children to follow.
Over the years, the HFPA Grants Banquet has evolved into almost a mini-Globes with its own red carpet arrivals and a roster of high profile stars showing up to accept not statuettes but sizable checks from the HFPA on behalf of a wide range of organizations. The HFPA has committed more than $23.9 million in grants, handed out over 1,000 scholarships and restored more than 90 films. Among this year’s notables were Lady Gaga, Jake Gyllenhaal, Andrew Garfield, Halle Berry, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Elizabeth Banks and Jane Fonda.
Exceptional Minds is the only vocational school and working studio to prepare and successfully place young men and women with autism in careers in the fields of animation and visual effects.