Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of The Thunderbirds – hosts of the Waste Management Phoenix Open Presented by The Ak-Chin Indian Community – awarded more than $3.1 million in grants to 51 Valley charities during its 2018 spring funding cycle – including a record one-time donation of $1 million to Special Olympics Arizona for its new State Competitions Distribution and Training Center.  Additionally, Thunderbirds Charities awarded grants of more than $100,000 to six Valley Charities; including $300,000 to St. Mary’s Food Bank, $200,000 to Child Crisis Arizona, $150,000 to Homeward Bound, $100,000 to Fresh Start Women’s Foundation and $100,000 to Friendly House. 

While the spring funding cycle is in the books, Thunderbirds Charities has announced that its 2018 fall funding cycle is now open. Information about the fall funding cycle can be found at      

“Without a doubt, giving back to our communities is the most rewarding thing about what we do as tournament hosts,” said Carlos Sugich, President of Thunderbirds Charities.  “We’re thrilled and so proud to give these grants to deserving organizations around the Valley.  It’s an honor to see where all the money goes from the WM Phoenix Open and how it impacts those in need in our community.”

The $1 million donation to Special Olympics Arizona helped create a new Distribution and Training Center which allows SOAZ the opportunity to serve even more individuals with disabilities across the state, ultimately expanding the number of athletes reached while creating more teams and enhanced competitions for SOAZ athletes.   

 “We are honored to receive this momentous donation from Thunderbirds Charities for the new Special Olympics Arizona Distribution Center,” said Jamie Heckerman, Interim Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics Arizona. “This donation will allow us to build a one-of-a-kind facility, which is a necessary component to our rapid growth as an organization and will be instrumental in allowing Special Olympics Arizona to better serve the community.”

The $200,000 donation to Child Crisis Arizona went toward its Head Start Expansion Renovation Project, which included a remodel of its Mesa facility to house two additional classroom spaces for 40 children, as well as child-sized bathrooms and additional Head Start staff offices. 

“We could not be more thankful to Thunderbird Charities for their ongoing support,” said Child Crisis Arizona Chief Executive Officer Torrie Taj. “Their generous gift is allowing us to expand our education programs, and provide valuable services to families, many of whom lack access to quality early childhood education and parenting resources.”

The $150,000 grant to Homeward Bound went to Empowering Homeless Families with Children, a project that not only provides housing, but also offers parents access to financial resources and the ability to emotionally support and advocate for their children, while the children receive high-quality education and enrichment experiences. 

“I continue to feel astonished by the generosity and commitment of The Thunderbirds to our children,” said Homeward Bound President & CEO Becky Jackson.  “We get the pleasure of seeing the transformation first-hand, and know that each day, they are breaking the cycle of poverty, and learning to thrive. We are truly inspired by Thunderbird Charities.” 

Additional grants awarded from the spring 2018 cycle:

About Care, $25,000, Volunteer Management Program Expansion

Arizona Council on Economic Education, $35,000, Economics for Everyday Living II

Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped, $30,000, PAES System

Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, $20,000, Extracurricular Activities

Arizona Science Center, $80,000, CREATE on Wheels

Assistance League of East Valley Arizona, $20,000, Operation School Belt

Be a Leader Foundation, $50,000, PIPELINE of College-Going Programs and Matriculation Services

Bridging AZ furniture Bank, $5,000, Veterans Furniture Project – Safe Equipment

Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation, $20,000, Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy (AZMOM)

Child Crisis Arizona, $200,000, Head Start Expansion – Renovation Project

Duet:  Partners in Health & Aging, $10,000, Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

East Valley Senior Services, $15,000, Independent Living Volunteer Services

Educare Arizona, $20,000, Early Education Extended Day Program

Elevate Phoenix, $50,000, Discover Your Success Vans

Empact-Suicide Prevention Center, $55,000, Trauma Healing Services – Therapy Advocacy

Esperanca, $25,000, Literacy Programs

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, $25,000, Programs for Children

Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, $100,000, Program Expansion

Friendly House, $100,000, Occupational Training Workforce Readiness

Friendship Foundation “Glencroft Wellness Center”, $10,000, Pool Lift and Equipment

Furnishing Dignity, $10,000, Essential Home Furnishings

Genesis City, $50,000, Trailblazer Program

Higher Octane Healing, $10,000, Social Connections

Homeless ID Project, $80,000, Securing Lost/Stolen ID for the Homeless

Homeless Youth Connection, $50,000, Empowering Youth for the Future

Homeward Bound, $150,000, Empowering Homeless Families with Children

Honor House, $25,000, Operation Healing Journey

Hunkapi Programs, $25,000, Covered Riding Arena

ICAN:  Positive Programs for Youth, $25,000, Youth Development Program

Jumpstart for Young Children, “Jumpstart AZ”, $15,000, Workforce Development Program

Junior Achievement of Arizona, $15,000, New Computers for JA Biz Town

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, $25,000, JDRF Community Outreach Program

K2 Adventures Foundation, $5,000, K2 Programs for Youth

Maggies Place, $40,000, Family Resource Center Services

Maricopa Health Foundation, $50,000, Bridging the Mariposa Wings to Safety and the Refugee Women’s Health Clinic Programs

MentorKids USA, $10,000, Student Success Program

Military Assistance Mission, $50,000, Basic Life Needs and Support

Muscular Dystrophy Association, $10,000, MDA AZCare Centers

Musical Instrument Museum, $50,000, A World of Musical Journeys

notMYkid, $30,000, Amplif(i) Program for BGC,

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, $20,000AZ Wolf Trap Early Education Arts Program

Soldiers Best Friend, $15,000, Service/Therapeutic Companion Dog Program

Southwest Human Development, $50,000, Children’s Clinic/Good Fit A/V Project

Special Olympics Arizona, $1,000,000, 2018 State Competitions/New Distribution and Training Center

St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, $300,000, Rural Arizona School Pantry Program Expansion

Stand for Children “Arizona” Leadership Center, $15,000, Family Engagement

Stepping Up for Seniors, $10,000, Medical Assistance

Step-Student Expedition Program, $15,000, STEP Phoenix College Prep Workshops

Treasures 4 Teachers, $30,000, T4T Wheels

United for Change, $10,000, Veterans Furniture Center

Waste Not, $30,000, Refrigerated Truck