November 30, 2018

Expansion Fund Puts Replication of School Excellence on the Fast Track

A for Arizona is doing something that has never been done anywhere in the country. With the launch of a first-in-the-nation statewide Expansion Fund, A for Arizona is raising money for grants to help Arizona’s best public district, charter, and magnet schools expand to serve more students, especially those in low-income communities.

The Fund is several years in the making. Since 2015, A for Arizona’s leadership team has spent time getting to know the dynamic leaders across the state who are making a high-quality education available to students in challenging areas. These ‘A’-school leaders refuse to believe demographics are insurmountable and are committed to excellence, knowing every child has the ability to succeed. It was experience with these individuals and seeing what is possible, paired with the knowledge of the 113,000 Arizona students currently attending ‘D’ and ‘F’-rated schools that compelled A for Arizona to act with urgency.

“We wanted to do everything in our power to put what these leaders have to offer in the hands of more Arizona students. We have amazing schools in Arizona serving a diverse set of communities and families. There are pockets of excellence in every county, but it’s a tragedy that not every Arizona student has access to a great quality school,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, A for Arizona Executive Director. “We knew we had to act. We could follow the standard model and pour more time, resources, and effort into improving failure, or we could try something never before done to get more kids into high quality classrooms as fast as possible.”

Fortunately, longtime partner and supporter – The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation – immediately grasped and shared the vision. They generously jumpstarted the fundraising campaign by offering a $1 million matching grant challenge for local donors, which runs through December 31. The Burton Family Foundation was the first Arizona organization to answer the challenge, pledging $100,000 to the Expansion Fund, which will receive a dollar for dollar match. In addition to the $1 million match, The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation granted $250,000 to A for Arizona to support staffing and development during the crucial first phase of the Expansion Fund.

Any ‘A’-rated public school in Arizona is eligible to apply to receive a grant from the public school Expansion Fund, but priority will be given to applicants showing demonstrated need, including expansion into high poverty communities, parent demand and lack of quality school options in targeted neighborhoods. Awards will range between $250,000 and $1.5 million for expansion projects that intend to serve more students starting next year.

Excellent schools already have aggressive growth plans. With philanthropic seed funding from the A for Arizona Expansion Fund, schools will be able to accelerate their path to serve more students.

Learn more about A for Arizona’s Expansion Fund at AforAZ.org/Expansion-Fund.

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