Nearly 2,000 Additional Students Gain Access to High Quality Public Schools This Fall

PHOENIX (July 10, 2019) – A for Arizona is proud to announce that its public school Expansion Fund awarded $300,000 to the first portfolio of five innovative public schools across Arizona looking to expand and grow their impact.

A for Arizona’s public school Expansion Fund is a first-of-its-kind, statewide privately-funded grant program designed to help Arizona’s best district, magnet, and charter schools expand to serve more students in their communities.

From a pool of 17 strong proposals and after six months of careful vetting, A for Arizona awarded grants to Vail School District, Academy of Math & Science, Nogales Unified School District and Mexicayotl Academy, Arizona Charter Academy, and Somerset Academy.

“We firmly believe that no child should have to wait for a school that will help them achieve their full potential. The quickest way to get more students in a great school is for our best leaders to expand to serve more students,” A for Arizona Executive Director Emily Anne Gullickson said. “Many of those leaders in district, magnet and charter schools already have plans in place to grow. Our public school Expansion Fund grants provide these leaders access to seed funding to accelerate those plans.”

This round of grant recipients encompass five legislative districts across three counties and include rural, suburban and urban communities, across both district and charter school models. Schools applied to support a wide range of innovative partnerships, including district-community college and district-charter partnerships. In all, Expansion Fund recipients will serve almost 2,000 additional students, beginning this August.

The grants are funded through direct support from A for Arizona’s local philanthropic partners such as The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation and the Burton Family Foundation.

Find more information about each grant recipient below.

Vail School District


Vail plans to use the grant to expand its Middle College program in partnership with Pima Community College. Inspired by the successful Early College program, Vail’s Middle College program allows high school seniors to enroll in full-time coursework at Pima Community College’s East Campus. Middle College students will receive supplemental classes and additional study skills support from a Vail teacher to ensure success in college and high school. Through the Middle College program, as many as 50 Vail students will be able to earn a full year’s worth of free college credit during their senior year, setting them up for success in a multitude of college and career pathways upon graduation. Vail plans to use its Expansion Fund grant to support the hiring of a full-time staff member to manage the launch of the Middle College program and, eventually, the expansion of Middle College to all six Pima Community College campuses and to more high school students across southern Arizona.

Academy of Math & Science


This public charter school plans to use the grant to help launch a new Glendale campus. Academy of Math & Science Glendale will bring an in-demand STEM curriculum to more than 1,000 students in the West Valley starting Summer 2019. Since launching the first Academy of Math & Science in 2000, the AMS network has developed a particular knack for delivering an exceptionally high quality STEM-focused education in high-poverty communities. In 2016, AMS was named Arizona Charter School of the Year by the Arizona Charter Schools Association. With the addition of the Glendale campus, AMS now operates seven K-8 public charter schools in the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.

Nogales Unified School District and Mexicayotl Academy


This district/charter duo plan launch an innovative academic partnership to support increased academic achievement for all students in Nogales. Mexicayotl Academy, an ‘A’-rated K-8 charter school in Nogales, has a longstanding track record of delivering dual language and culturally sensitive curriculum to families in the border community. Likewise, Nogales Unified has shown a deep commitment toward constant growth and improvement of academic outcomes across the district. Nogales Unified and Mexicayotl have decades-long history of informal corporation arising out of their leaders’ shared vision for the greater Nogales community. As a first step towards formalizing their partnership, Nogales Unified and Mexicayotl will use their $70,000 to hire a shared curriculum coordinator to develop a streamlined STEM curriculum with an emphasis on the unique environmental challenges of the Sonoran Desert. The addition of shared curriculum—an unprecedented form of district/charter collaboration—will allow the partnership to provide many more Nogales-area students with a high quality STEM education in the future.

Arizona Charter Academy


This public charter school plans to use the grant funds to support a 12,000 square-foot expansion of its Surprise campus. A true community school, Arizona Charter Academy enrolls nearly 900 local Surprise students grades K-8. A for Arizona is not alone in recognizing the school’s successes. Earlier this year, Arizona Charter Academy was the only public charter school recognized as an A+ School of Excellence™ by the Arizona Educational Foundation. When construction is complete in summer 2020, Arizona Charter Academy will be able to serve up to 250 additional students.

Somerset Academy


This public charter school plans to use the grant funds to support the launch of its Skyway campus in Goodyear. Somerset Academy is the first national charter management organization to replicate into Arizona, and has a track record of successful schools in Florida, Texas, and Nevada, as well as internationally. In all, the Somerset network serves 29,900 students in 67 schools. Somerset Academy Skyway Campus will launch with 200 students grades K-5 and will eventually serve over 800 West Valley students at full capacity. Somerset Academy Skyway will use its $40,000 Expansion Fund grant to support retrofitting and technology improvements at their new school site.

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About A for Arizona
A for Arizona seeks to rapidly expand the number of low-income students in the highest quality schools. It is a major initiative within the Arizona Chamber Foundation in partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.