Tag Archives: schools

Arizona School Choice Trust

D-backs Accepting Submissions For $150K School Challenge

The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today that they are now accepting applications for the $150,000 School Challenge, presented by University of Phoenix, to benefit schools across the state of Arizona. The program is open to all Arizona public, private, and nonprofit charter schools, Grades K-12, and teachers and administrators are encouraged to “make their best pitch” on why they deserve to receive this important funding by submitting an application online at www.dbacks.com/schoolchallenge by Sept. 30.

“Last season we were astounded by the volume and quality of applications received and we know that schools across the state truly need help,” said D-backs’ President and CEO Derrick Hall. “That’s where the D-backs and University of Phoenix step in and we are excited to be able to bring back this valuable program. We are dedicated to ensuring that the schools in our state receive the resources that will make the biggest impact on our students and the community at large.”

The D-backs kicked off the program last spring with the $100,000 School Challenge and received an overwhelming response that inspired the team to also host a $150,000 Back-To-School Challenge last fall. With more than 1,300 applications last year, the D-backs were able to grant $5,000 to 50 schools for a grand total of $250,000 in 2012. The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation provided $150,000 for the program and the University of Phoenix provided $100,000.  The $5,000 grants helped schools from across the state with needs such as educational supplies, books, updated computer programs, mobile computer labs and school improvements.

“Our community, schools, and students thrive when supported by local businesses and organizations,” said University of Phoenix President Dr. Bill Pepicello. “University of Phoenix is committed to providing support in the communities in which we reside and we are so proud to be part of this School Challenge program in partnership with the D-backs helping to ensure the education of our youth.”

The School Challenge is part of the D-backs’ overall charitable efforts and last season, the team and its charitable arm, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, surpassed $30 million in combined donations since their inception in 1998, including more than $4 million in 2012.

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Wells Fargo invests $6.7 million in Arizona nonprofits

Wells Fargo & Company announced that it invested more than $6.7 million to almost 900 nonprofits and schools in Arizona in 2012. Wells Fargo team members personally contributed more than $2.4 million of the total in addition to almost 100,000 volunteer hours to help Arizona neighborhoods and communities succeed.

“There are people who have been affected by economic challenges in communities all across the country. Wells Fargo is committed to meeting the challenge of bringing local solutions to local needs, and I am so proud of how our company and team members have truly helped make a difference,” said Pam Conboy, Arizona Lead Regional President. “Wells Fargo has a long history of working closely with nonprofits and other stakeholders to promote long-term economic growth and quality of life in the communities we serve – and I know our 15,000 Arizona team members will continue this tradition of support.”

In 2012 community development received the largest amount of donations, totaling $1,378,372. Wells Fargo focused its contributions in the following areas within Arizona:

Community Development: $1,378,372
Human Services: $1,149,744
Education: $1,077,969
Environment and Civic: $229,450
Arts and Culture: $219,086

Nationally, Wells Fargo invested $315.8 million in 19,500 nonprofits in 2012, a 48 percent increase over the total donations for 2011. In addition, Wells Fargo team members contributed more than $60.5 million and 1.5 million volunteer hours to 25,000 nonprofits and schools.

carey school - graduate

Creating high performance schools

A central part of this year’s state budget debate is over Governor Brewer’s Performance Funding proposal for district and charter schools. Her plan helps ensure that tax investment in our schools yields measurable results.

Employers from across the state have fought against across-the-board cuts to our K-12 system, and we’ve supported the governor’s budget request to help make new, more rigorous standards successful. But we cannot support millions of dollars in additional new funding without some exchange for true accountability. Lest we forget, the voters agreed with this premise last November when they overwhelmingly rejected a ballot measure that would have raised taxes for education, but with little oversight in how the dollars would be spent.

A modern school funding system should be based on transparency, giving parents the information they need to choose schools and to choose communities in which to live and work. And the job creators we work hard every day to keep and recruit deserve a system that makes clear that our elected leaders are serious about excellent educational outcomes that prepare today’s kids for tomorrow’s jobs.

For more than a decade we have been building and adjusting such a system. We started with school accountability that tells us how schools and districts perform. We articulate this information using the same A-F letter grades that our students receive. More recently, Arizona implemented a teacher and principal evaluation system to ensure schools intervene with struggling educators, amplify the impact of high performing teachers and engage all educators in between.

These and other mechanisms implemented thus far seem to be moving the needle in most schools and providing the kind of transparency education hawks have demanded. But some persistent challenges remain. With billions of taxpayer dollars going to fund our K-12 system, Arizonans are demanding accountability that doesn’t just advertise performance, but also predicates some amount of schools’ annual funding – particularly hard-to-get new resources – on learning outcomes.

In response, the governor is proposing a first-of-its-kind model for schools to earn more funding than they currently receive. What’s really revolutionary is that a small amount of their current funding will be on the line as well. This percentage will grow over the course of the next five years.

Under Gov. Brewer’s plan, districts and charters at all performance levels can earn new dollars for improving their outcomes. For schools that reach state performance levels, even more money can be earned. But the greatest earning potential is in doing more than before, rather than being rewarded for perpetuating the status quo, the theme of the current funding model.

The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for a redesign of the education funding system that provides the right incentives to focus on outcomes rather than just seat time. The governor has proposed a modest move towards such a model. For fiscal year 2014, 1 percent of total funding is set aside for this model, reaching 5 percent at the end of five years.  One third of the funding would be from existing revenue, but nearly two thirds – more than $150 million by Year Five – would be new funding that all schools and districts would have an opportunity to earn simply by showing improvement.

A variety of reforms have been tried over the years and more will be tried during our time and after. Not all of them will work, but not trying at all is unacceptable. Combined with new standards, Gov. Brewer’s Performance Funding plan provides the right amount of tension in the system to move Arizona schools to the next tier.

Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans.  

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Horne proposes arming educators

In the wake of the Connecticut school shootings, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne is proposing a plan to allow one educator in each school to carry a gun.

Horne says Arizona schools opting to participate could designate someone to receive free firearms training. That person would be the only one allowed to keep a gun on campus if there wasn’t already a police officer posted there.

He says armed police officers at schools would be ideal but budget constraints make that unrealistic. Horne says his proposal is safer than allowing all educators to carry guns. State law would first have to be amended to push forward with his plan.

Currently, Utah and Kansas are the only states that allow people with concealed weapons permits to carry guns in a school.