Untapped Potential for Greatness

We firmly believe that no child should have to wait for a school that matches their full potential.

Arizona is full of leaders with thoughtful plans in place to redesign their school model and implement creative solutions to serve all kids at a high level. Whether these students are learning in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid model, these leaders will not compromise on quality or expectations. This year, A for Arizona will be awarding micro grants from the Fund to schools with new ideas that are contingent on seed funding or to proven innovative K-12 schools that have reimagined how best to serve their students in the 2020-2021 school year.

Our inaugural 2019 Class of Grantees replicated, and expanded capacity for, successful models of schooling and instruction. They demonstrated what’s possible for more Arizona students and families and it’s time to scale up this proven concept of investing in teaching-and-learning innovation.

Innovators rose to the occasion when schools closed this spring. Let’s scale their best ideas.

Whether applying new approaches to learning in Arizona or designing first-in-the-nation solutions, our Fund aims to provide school leaders access to seed funding to accelerate those plans and help us learn how we can best serve our K-12 students in these uncertain times and well beyond.

Arizona classrooms yet again serve as a model.

Arizona innovative school models include results such as significantly narrowing achievement and opportunity gaps for students in a state that is majority Hispanic students. Grantees of the Fund are charged with sharing their practice both within and outside Arizona.

The pandemic was global and solutions around schooling can be too.

Best practices from grantees will also serve as models in a partnership with our neighbors in Sonora, who are contributing their best practices back to us.

Proven track record for kids and families, proven results.

Sustaining the growth of Arizona's quality school movement relies on strategies that recognize and elevate local efforts to think outside the box. Every child deserves access to a high-quality virtual or in-person learning experience.

Small learning environments work for kids.

New opportunities like pods, micro-schooling, learning hubs, schools-within-schools, and small school concepts are all some of the strategies that parents and students are gravitating towards and thriving in. With our new Small Learning Community grants, we aim to make access to public small learning communities more equitable and support student populations that have been significantly disrupted during the global COVID-19 pandemic - especially low-income students - and help more of our essential workers and families get back to work.

This funding will support our educators and school leaders, expand their ongoing efforts and bolster effective innovation — and Arizona is proud to support those who always put our kids first. These grant recipients can help us learn how we best serve our K-12 students during this pandemic and well beyond.

Governor Doug Ducey

State of Arizona

Current Grant Opportunities

Round 2: General Expansion & Innovation Fund Microgrants

Now Accepting Applications! The Vetting Committee will evaluate and award grants on a rolling basis approximately every 6-8 weeks. Like in Round 1, the Vetting Committee will meet to evaluate applications, provide feedback, and recommend grants that are truly innovative to the context in Arizona by either scaling something nationally that works or being the first-in-the-nation that others can scale up elsewhere. With the addition of philanthropic match contributions, public district, public charter, and private schools are eligible to apply for Round 2 funding. Learn more about grant expectations and the application process at our next Innovation Fund 101 informational session on Tuesday, November 17 at 1:00 PM Arizona time. This is a great forum for school leaders to ask questions. Register today

Small Learning Community Grants

Now Accepting Applications! Grants will support opportunities like pods, micro-schooling, learning hubs, and schools-within-schools that make access to public small learning communities more equitable and support student populations that have been significantly disrupted during the global COVID-19 pandemic - especially low-income students - and help more of our essential workers and their families get back to work. All public district, magnet, and charter schools in Arizona in remote, rural, suburban, and urban communities are eligible to apply for a Small Learning Community grant. The application deadline for schools seeking to launch a Small Learning Community option(s) for the spring 2021 semester are due by noon on Monday, November 30. Learn more about the purpose and goal of this grant, the application process, and get your questions answered at our Small Learning Community Info Session on Monday, November 9 at 1:00 pm Arizona Time. Register today

Vetting Committee

Jeanne Allen

Founder & CEOThe Center for Education Reform

John Bailey

Advisor | FellowWalton Family FoundationAmerican Enterprise Institute

Christy Burton

Co-Founder & ChairmanBurton Family Foundation

Mayra Flores

Program ManagerThe Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation

Emily Anne Gullickson

Founder & Chief Executive OfficerA for Arizona

Kaitlin Harrier

Policy Advisor, EducationOffice of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

Becky Hill

Regional Directoryes. every kid.

Danny Knee

Executive DirectorCommunity Investment Corporation

Greg Lucero

Vice President of Government AffairsSouth 32 Hermosa

Jessica Pacheco

Managing PartnerHorizon Strategies

Karla Phillips-Krivickas

Senior Director, Policy and AdvocacyKnowledgeWorks

Adrian Ruiz

Deputy Chief Investment OfficerRaza Development Fund

Mike Santellanes

Public Finance DirectorPhoenix IDA

Colin Seale

Founder & CEOthinkLaw

Brad Selby

Managing OwnerWeathering Steel LLC

Janelle Wood

FounderBlack Mothers Forum

Our Fund provides access to fast capital that will jump start new approaches to learning and educational excellence in Arizona.

Fueling Results

In 2018, with the help of generous philanthropic support by The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, Burton Family Foundation, and other generous donors, A for Arizona launched a first-of-its kind, statewide privately-funded Expansion & Innovation Fund. The Fund was designed to provide seed funding for schools and innovative partnerships, including with postsecondary institutions and district-charter strategic initiatives, to reimagine and better serve more students in their communities. Please read about our inaugural 2019 class of recipients below.

We are thrilled that Governor Ducey was inspired by the success of this 2019 inaugural class to direct $1 million to A for Arizona’s Expansion and Innovation Fund effort through the federal CARES Act GEER funding this summer. Governor Ducey remains one of the first and only governors nationally to leverage the federal CARES Act GEER funding toward innovation and expansion of successful schooling ideas in these challenging times. This investment allowed us to scale these demonstrated concepts in Round One to ensure more students had access to a high-quality school and classroom for the 2020-2021 school year. We are seeking additional private contributions and philanthropic support to expand and fund additional proposals in Round Two.

Governor Ducey announced on October 15 an additional $500,000 investment to A for Arizona’s Expansion and Innovation Fund effort through the federal CARES Act GEER funding. The small learning communities from Round One proved community-driven, small scale solutions work for kids and families and our need to invest in more public options like those. This investment will support public Small Learning Community grants to support new learning options for kids have not being well served by their current schooling system or whose parents are relying on a Small Learning Community to get back to work. Grants will support opportunities like pods, micro-schooling, learning hubs, and schools-within-schools that make access to public small learning communities more equitable and support student populations that have been significantly disrupted during the global COVID-19 pandemic – especially low-income students.  

2020 Recipients

Meet the Recipients

2019 Recipients

Inspired by their 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 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, up to 50 Vail students (70% minority, 58% free & reduced price lunch (FRL) population) will be able to earn a full year’s worth free college credit during their senior year, setting them up for success in a multitude of college and career pathways upon graduation. Learn more.

Awarded $75,000

Vail plans to eventually expand the Middle College to all six Pima Community College campus and high school students across southern Arizona.

This public charter school used the grant to help launch a new Glendale campus, bringing an in-demand STEM curriculum to over 1,000 students (87.9% minority, 71.9% Hispanic, 92.3% FRL) 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. Learn more.

Awarded $70,000

In our second year, we are offering multiple classes across a majority of grade levels at above-grade level. Our goal is at the neighborhood and state level, perform at the 95th percentile relative to all schools with similar demographics and to ensure that 100% of our 8th grade graduates are prepared for competitive high schools and attend a high-performing STEM, career, and/or college preparatory program.

Nogales Unified and Mexicayotl have decades-long history of informal cooperation arising out of leaderships’ shared vision for the Greater Nogales community. This district/charter duo launched an innovative academic partnership together to support increased academic achievement for all students in Nogales. They hired a shared curriculum coordinator to develop a streamlined STEM shared curriculum with an emphasis on the unique environmental challenges of the Sonoran Desert to provide many more Nogales-area students (98% minority, over 78% FRL) with a high quality STEM education in the future. Learn more.

Awarded $70,000

This public charter school used 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 (81% minority, 71% FRL). We are thrilled that this longtime school of excellence will now be able to serve 250 additional students in the 2020-2021 school year. Learn more.

Awarded $40,000

ACA will continue to find innovative ways to defy the odds with our students!  We are on track to offer 5 full classes for every grade level once the building is complete. While so many schools are limiting their offerings in fine arts and STEM, ACA knows the importance of these areas and is seeking to increase these programs to further engage the next generation of students.

Grantee Expectations

School Demographics

The Fund is open to applications from remote, rural, suburban and urban schools or systems. Weighted priority will be given to schools serving underserved student populations.

Showcase Your Solutions

Be willing to speak to press and researchers about how you were able to rethink your model to serve all kids at a high level. Showcase how your innovative solution solved the problem you were facing and was a successful way to serve all kids.

Model for Others

Commit to being a model for other school leaders to learn from and view in person and/or virtually.

Deliver High-Quality Learning

'D' and 'F' rated schools or federally identified underperforming schools are ineligible to apply.

Provide Data

Collect and commit to sharing data demonstrating success, including financial expenses.