A for Arizona announced the launch of its Expansion Fund, supported by a grant from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, at its State of Excellence Gala on Thursday.
The Expansion Fund is designed to accelerate the growth of Arizona’s best public schools – district, magnet and charter schools – especially those in low income communities. It will provide targeted grants to ‘A’-rated schools.
“Arizona’s best public schools are led by dynamic and motivated leaders with a desire to grow and expand,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, A for Arizona executive director. “They will continue to do this work with or without us, but A for Arizona’s school Expansion Fund will help them to implement their growth plans more quickly and get more kids into great schools now.”
Any ‘A’-rated public school interested in replicating a proposed school model, expanding the number of grade levels served or increasing the number of students is eligible to apply for an Expansion Fund grant. Priority will be given to schools planning to serve low income students. Applications open in October.
The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation provided a $1 million matching grant for the Expansion Fund, which will run through Dec. 31. The foundation also granted $250,000 to A for Arizona for operations and development regarding the fund.
“By rewarding top performers, A for Arizona is raising the standard for public education in our state,” Bob Parsons, entrepreneur and philanthropist, said. “Too often children in low-income areas are not provided with an opportunity to achieve their full academic potential. The Expansion Fund is specifically designed to reach these students by supporting educational excellence in underserved communities.”
The Parsons are longtime supporters of A for Arizona as their foundation has provided more than $1.7 million in grants for the organization, said Gullickson.
“The Expansion Fund is agnostic to public school model, but we are unapologetic about keeping the quality bar high. The fact is, great schools do indeed exist, and many seek to grow,” said Gullickson. “We are grateful to have Bob and Renee’s support. Their investment will help us provide targeted grants to ‘A’-rated public schools who are working to accelerate quality in our most at-need communities.”
Lawrence Robinson, Roosevelt School District Governing Board member, explained that the Expansion Fund will enable school leaders to focus “on the ideas that can work right now to rapidly increase the success of our students.”
“When we challenge them and when we align our worldview, as education leaders, with the current reality of the world and prepare for its future, I think these students are not only going to be motivated to achieve, but they’re going to see that something’s in it for them. Which is a career, success, and opportunity,” Robinson said.
In addition to the Expansion Fund, A for Arizona recognized Trailblazers committed to academic excellence at the its Gala on Thursday evening. The 2018 Trailblazer Award Winners include:
Trailblazers in Public Policy
Senator Sylvia Allen, LD 6
Representative Paul Boyer, LD 20
Representative Drew John, LD 14
Board Member Lawrence Robinson, Roosevelt Elementary School District and President-Elect, Arizona School Boards Association
Trailblazer in School Leadership
Principal Amy Cislak of University High School in Tucson Unified School District
Trailblazers in District-Charter Collaboration
Nogales Unified School District