916 963 1000


Awaken the possible.

MERISTEM serves young adults on the autism spectrum by helping them develop practical life skills, increase social capacity, and transition to work and independence. We build the foundation for a productive life by helping to optimize the potential of each individual. A special emphasis is placed on preparing students for entry into the workforce or pursuing higher education.

About Meristem

The real world is our classroom.

The three-year day and residential program uses a contemporary apprenticeship model to develop contextualized, transferable skills to transition young adults into work life. Students learn in highly personalized ways. Learning is individualized, structured, and self-directed.

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"When I started I could never have imagined I would have changed so much. I cannot find the words to describe what this program has done for me and I advise people to come and see it for themselves."

— Marcy, Meristem Student


A proven method.

The MERISTEM method includes students working in agriculture, craftwork, independent living skills, and work skills classes with an emphasis on transformative movement techniques that help students overcome the spatial challenges that often accompany autism.

Learning through doing.

Our students learn to create - jewelry, clothing, a film, or a harvest of food. They learn resiliency, to embrace failure, to feel a sense of accomplishment. That sense of purpose, meaning, and value translates to growth, life long learning, and work.

Increasing social capacity.

The program develops social skills that ultimately lead to a stronger sense of self, healthy relationships with others and a recognition of one's place in the world.

Developing life skills.

Our program is personalized for each student with the aim of fostering self-reliance.

The program includes:

  • Transformative movement

  • Digital media

  • Culinary arts and nutrition

  • Ceramics

  • Work Skills

  • Sustainable agriculture

  • Carpentry and woodwork

  • Independent living skills

  • Farm and animal care

  • Textiles, jewelry, and metal work

  • Filmmaking and photography

Transition to work and independence.

A central aspect of the MERISTEM method involves preparing students for life after graduation. Throughout the three-year program, students build skills to enter the workplace or higher education. Many will work independently, others with assistance, but each graduate leaves with a greater sense of self-reliance.

Entering the workforce is a hallmark of the program. Our transition-to-work program develops vocational skills through work experience. Students grow and sell food from the campus farm, work in the culinary arts center, the campus café, or bookstore. With MERISTEM's emphasis on community life, we seek opportunities to partner with local businesses for work placements and internships. We help graduates find work in the community or enter college.


A place to live, learn and grow.

Our flagship campus is located on 13 beautiful acres in Sacramento, California near the American River. MERISTEM consists of visual and practical arts classrooms, a working farm, a performing arts auditorium, outdoor fields, academic classrooms, an equine center, student café, bookstore, and residential living areas.

The Independent Living Center is the home to our residential students. Each suite contains
4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, living room, and an outdoor patio or balcony.

  • 13 beautiful acres

  • Biodynamic farm

  • Bookstore

  • Café

  • Dormitory suites



An inclusive and integrated community.

Our community is integrated with a teacher training college, farm apprenticeship program, community supported agriculture (CSA), and community workshops and events. Students develop skills through community integration and social inclusion.


Guiding our future.

Our board of directors and leadership team provide guidance, governance and oversight for Meristem's mission, operations and program effectiveness.

Board of directors

  • Russell J. Austin

    Murphy Austin
    Adams Schoenfeld LLP

  • Michael Chez, M.D.

    Pediatric Neurologist,
    Sutter Medical Group

  • Donna L. Courville

    Boutin Jones Inc.

  • Maureen Curran

    Founder and Director,
    The Orcas Institute

  • Jane Einhorn

    Marketing Consultant

  • Viva Ettin, M.D.

    Law Offices of
    Viva Ettin, M.D.

  • Garry Maisel

    President and CEO,
    Western Health Advantage

  • Jesse Sprecher

    Former Vice Chairman,

  • Darrell Steinberg

    Mayor, Sacramento,
    Former California Senator

  • Tina Thomas

    Thomas Law Group

  • Marc Turtletaub


  • Louis A. Vismara, M.D.

    AKT Investments Inc.

Advisor to the board

  • Aonghus Gordon

    Ruskin Mill Trust

Executive Leadership

  • Jonathan Finestone


"We know MERISTEM is unique - there's no equivalent program in our region, state,
or nation. MERISTEM offers hope, purpose, and meaning. It is one of a kind."

Darrell Steinberg,
MERISTEM Board Member,
Mayor, Sacramento,
former California Senator

A Campaign for All

Change the future
with us.

Join our tuition assistance campaign to provide
equity and access for all families affected by ASD.

We request your support to provide young adults with ASD the opportunity to prepare for greater independence. Your gift will directly support a student attending the program.

The annual cost of operating this unique and diverse curriculum exceed the capacity of some families' ability to pay the tuition. The MERISTEM SCHOLARSHIP FUND is designed to fill this gap.

Thank you for your generosity. Your gift will change the lives of young adults with ASD and their families.

To participate, contact:

Shannon Shields, Development Executive

6127590932 or 916 963 1000