Project Description

The NYC Autism Charter School is the first public charter school in New York State devoted exclusively to educating children with autism. Created by NEXT for AUTISM in 2005, the school was designed with a simple vision: to provide a model, evidence-based, public education program to children with autism.

The school’s East Harlem location is a demonstration site for educators from around the world, and a clinical training ground for graduate level, special education teachers. A second NYC Autism Charter School, in the South Bronx, opened in 2017.

NEXT for AUTISM is the reason we exist, so when you talk about impact, it’s everything. It could not have been realized without NEXT for AUTISM’s creativity, vision, access and drive. Money alone could not buy this program.

Julie Fisher, Executive Director

Program Innovations

Woven into the school’s DNA are NEXT for AUTISM’s commitment to excellence, evidence-based practices, and community integration.

  • Individualized educational programs for each student, based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Emphasis on teaching functional skills in communications, socialization, work-readiness, self-care, and daily living
  • Learning and internship opportunities outside of the classroom at Facebook, White Castle & Shake Shack
  • A Peer Mentorship Program that encourages students to interact and integrate with typically developing peers who attend school in the same building
  • Recreational opportunities in neighboring community and athletic centers that help integrate students into surrounding neighborhoods and promote physical activity

Student Profile

Ages 5 to 21
66% are Black, Latino or Asian
44% Caucasian
More than 75% qualify for the state’s free or reduced-price lunch
Students enroll by lottery

Program Impact

The NYC Autism Charter School was the first program created by NEXT for AUTISM. The methods we used reflect our commitment to build programs with excellence and enlist collaborators to widen the field of services for people with autism.

  • A three-year research and design period with leading educators, clinicians, and experts
  • Collaboration and coalition building with the New York City Department of Education and the New York State Board of Regents to acquire the school charter and secure its location within Public School 50
  • Ongoing thought-leadership and impact investment to spur innovations after the school’s launch

Consistently mastered nearly all of their individual educational goals


Trained at Harlem school since it opened