A Little Bit

About Us

About The


Determined to give their children a chance at life, five families founded Somerset Hills Learning Institute in 1998. Today, the Institute serves children from diagnosis through age 21 and has gained approval to serve adults. More than half of our graduations have returned children to regular education classrooms, saving NJ taxpayers at least $60 million. Somerset Hills Learning Institute is a private nonprofit program that offers a broad spectrum of services to children, adolescents, and adults with autism. Through science, research, and the generous contributions of caring individuals and businesses, we offer comprehensive intervention models for the benefit of people with autism.
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A Brief History of Our


Before we even began serving students, the five founding families and our Executive Director were developing a strategy to sustain the viability of a program that was, and is, inherently deficit producing (i.e., tuition covers only about 75% of the cost to deliver services.) To our good fortune, the mission of the Institute resonated with a local philanthropist, Vivian Ahrens, and we soon found ourselves under her guiding wing. Vivian gave us a crash course in planning and hosting an unforgettable gala. Under Vivian’s leadership, our inaugural Halloween Ball took place at the Hilton Short Hills on October 27, 2000. We hosted about 200 guests and raised nearly $70,000.


In the Year 2000, our inaugural Halloween Ball hosted about 200 guests and raised nearly $70,000!

How We Have Grown


Over the years the number of event supporters has burgeoned to as many as 600, the venues have become larger, and the funds raised to support our students have routinely surpassed the half-million-dollar mark. The most important feature of our Ball remains steadfast: shining a spotlight on the outcomes of our students. Our relentless drive for outcomes compels us to create the ultimate guest experience through which we inspire support for our students with autism.

Thank you, Vivian, for all of your teaching and leadership that has generated millions of dollars of support and forever-changed lives.

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