Each year, Az Business Angels casts a spotlight on the nonprofits, business leaders and organizations that are making the biggest impact on our communities.
According to experts on both sides of the charitable equation, collaboration between Arizona businesses and nonprofits is essential for fostering a thriving and sustainable community. This partnership not only benefits the organizations involved, but also contributes to the overall well-being of the state. There are several compelling reasons why Arizona businesses should actively engage with nonprofits:
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Social responsibility: Collaborating with nonprofits demonstrates a commitment to social responsibility. It allows businesses to give back to the communities they operate in, addressing critical issues such as poverty, education, healthcare and the environment.
Enhanced corporate image: Supporting nonprofits can improve a business’s public image. Consumers and investors increasingly value companies that prioritize social and environmental causes, which can lead to increased brand loyalty and attract socially conscious customers.
Local economic growth: Nonprofits play a crucial role in driving economic development by creating jobs, stimulating local spending, and bolstering property values. Businesses that support these organizations indirectly contribute to the economic prosperity of Arizona.
Access to expertise: Nonprofits often specialize in addressing specific social issues. Partnering with them provides businesses access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise, helping them make informed decisions and implement more effective corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Tax benefits: Many businesses can benefit from tax incentives by donating to nonprofits. These deductions can significantly reduce tax liabilities, making it financially advantageous for businesses to collaborate with nonprofits.
Innovation and collaboration: Working with nonprofits encourages innovation and creative problem-solving. Businesses can leverage the unique perspectives and ideas of nonprofits to develop new products, services or approaches that benefit both parties and the community at large.
Community engagement: Collaboration strengthens ties between businesses and the local community. Engaged employees and community members are more likely to support businesses and contribute to their success.
Experts say partnering with Arizona nonprofits aligns businesses with the values of social responsibility, positively impacts their image and contributes to economic growth. These collaborations offer a win-win situation, benefiting both the corporate sector and the broader Arizona community.
From hundreds on nominations, the judging committee for Az Business Angels selected the companies and organizations highlighted below as the Az Business Angels of 2024.
Nonprofit Executives of the Year
Laura Capello, president and CEO, Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Arizona: Under Capello’s leadership, BBBSAZ – now one of the largest BBBS agencies across the country – has grown significantly in terms of membership and services offered. The organization currently supports almost 1,600 children a year, and Laura’s commitment to collaboration has led to innovative mentoring programs in partnership with other organizations, expanding the agency’s reach and impact. Capello helped BBBSAZ acquire its own building in January 2023.
Jennifer Kiernan, founder, Saving Amy: While volunteering in a local homeless shelter, Kiernan saw that many of the families that were working towards a better life, fell back into homelessness or were stuck in poverty once they left the shelter. Kiernan started Saving Amy to help women and families transition from homelessness. Saving Amy has helped a tremendous numbers of families and mothers get back on their feet, find employment, and have a safe place to live.
Kimber Lanning, founder, Local First Arizona: Twenty years ago, local music store owner Lanning rallied a handful of small business owners to launch the state’s first “shop local” campaign. Today, Local First Arizona is the largest locally owned business coalition in the U.S. With more than 50 employees in Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and the Navajo Nation, Lanning leads a diverse array of programs from healthy local food access to entrepreneurship in underserved communities to rural community development.
Marcia Mintz, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley: Under Mintz’s guidance this year, BGCAZ established new club sites in Yuma and schools across the Valley, expanding access and opportunities for hundreds of Arizona youth. With her leadership, BGCAZ’s annual fundraiser raised a record $4.5 million, aided by Mintz securing $1 million from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation. She also secured a $1 million grant from the Chandler Compadres, the largest gift the Compadres have given to a single organization.
Steve Schnall, senior vice president and chief development officer, Phoenix Children’s Foundation: Schnall has served Phoenix Children’s Hospital since 1983. In his current role, he provides strategic leadership for all aspects of philanthropy for the hospital. Under his direction, the foundation has led numerous successful campaigns that supported development of Phoenix Children’s. A five-year, $250 million funding initiative has been focused on building a world-class children’s hospital.
Nonprofit Organizations of the Year
Center for the Future of Arizona: Twenty years ago, a group of visionaries dreamed of creating a stronger and brighter Arizona out of a deep love for the state. The result: Center for the Future of Arizona, a non-profit “do-tank” that focuses on listening to what matters most to Arizonans. CFA has made direct contributions through statewide initiatives and programs in education, workforce development and civic engagement, impacting more than 330,000 students, nearly 15,000 teachers and 75 industry partners.
Circle the City: Circle the City offers a wide variety of healthcare services to meet the individual needs of men, women and children that are facing homelessness in Maricopa County. Services are provided at Circle the City’s medical respite centers as well as out in the field with mobile and street medicine teams. Circle the City’s trained staff is always looking for new and innovative ways to help those in need. The organization serves more than 8,000 patients annually.
Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation: In 2022, Delta Dental of Arizona contributed $1,495,967, positively impacting more than 295,125 people. Delta Dental of Arizona’s key programs and initiatives include its partnership with Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH) on Dental Connect, its partnership with Arizona PBS to educate children on good oral health, the Delta Dental of Arizona Oral Health Clinic at St. Vincent de Paul and its critical work with Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
Fresh Start Women’s Foundation: Fresh Start Women’s Foundation provides education, resources and support for women to positively transform their lives and strengthen the community. Fresh Start’s life-changing programs focus on career, education and life skills while offering support services such as mentoring, social work and family law support. Fresh Start offers services that are free or low cost and available to any woman over the age of 18.
Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona: Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona is a local charity that renovates and repairs homes for eligible families. With renting, buying, and repairing homes being expensive propositions, many Arizona families are struggling to make ends meet and often forced to choose between essentials such as groceries, rent, healthcare and transportation. Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona is there to help those families.
Kitchen on the Street: Led by CEO Lisa Scarpinato, Kitchen on the Street has consistently showcased excellence, creativity, and initiative, driving the organization’s success and making a significant impact on the industry. Kitchen on the Street is a locally-founded community partner purposing to eliminate childhood hunger in Arizona. The organization stands with children in need at the intersection of nutrition and academic excellence.
Make-A-Wish Arizona: At Make-A-Wish Arizona, the mission is to create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. Make-A-Wish Arizona families and medical professionals say that a wish becomes an important part of the healing process, helping children manage, and even overcome, their illnesses. In fiscal year 2023, Make-A-Wish Arizona has budgeted to grant 420 life-impacting wishes.
National Kidney Foundation of Arizona: Because of the nature of COVID-19, its treatments and how they collectively can damage the kidneys, the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona (NFKAZ) faces a significant increase in demand for its services. NKFAZ is the agency of last resorts for kidney patients in Arizona and helps with the cost of medication, vital dental care, food, transportation and even relief from the worry of being evicted or having one’s utilities shut off.
ONE Community: In February 2013, ONE Community launched the UNITY Pledge — a concerted effort by Arizona businesses, organizations, faith leaders and individuals to advance workplace equality and equal treatment in housing and public accommodations for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBTQ) individuals and their allies. Since that time, the UNITY Pledge has become the largest equality pledge in the nation.
Pipeline AZ: Pipeline AZ is a career exploration and jobs skills platform that advances workforce development and career readiness across Arizona. Pipeline AZ’s mission is to give students and professionals a path to attain their career goals and connect employers with talent. Pipeline AZ has experienced significant growth in the past five years, including an increase of 155% of its user base to help more than 125,000 Arizonans evaluate their skills, navigate training and discover new career pathways.
Angels of the Year (individual)
Brandon B. Rafi, Rafi Law Group
Rafi Law Group is a shining example of corporate philanthropy, showcasing an unwavering commitment to giving back to the community. “Rafi’s Hope,” launched by Brandon Rafi, has elevated community resource allocation, outreach, and appreciation to new heights within the state. Collaborating with charities such as St. Vincent de Paul and St. Mary’s Food Bank, Rafi’s Hope has made a transformative impact on the lives of individuals in need.
Monica Samuels, founder, Quasar Quantum Healing
As the founder of Quasar Quantum Healing, Samuels’ mission is to promote health care through the advancement of holistic, non-pharmaceutical methods and modalities known as the Theta Wellness Process. Last year, a portion of every month’s revenue was donated to a different nonprofit, depending on the spotlight for that month’s national weeks or days. A couple of these nonprofits include NAMI and Helping Hands for Single Moms.
Sandra Torre, CFO and executive vice president, LAVIDGE
Torre co-founded the LAVIDGE’s employee volunteer program, “IMPACT – Giving and Sharing with Passion.” Since then, LAVIDGE IMPACT has donated more than 1,700 hours of service, participated in 60 events, and partnered with or otherwise supported numerous local nonprofits. LAVIDGE focuses on giving back to benefit children, relieve homelessness, hunger, and poverty; and to promote animal welfare.
Trevor Wilde, CEO, Wilde Wealth Management Group
As Wilde Wealth Management Group’s roots became firmly planted, Trevor Wilde started looking at ways to pay it forward, creating Wilde for Arizona. The community outreach program empowers the entire firm to be active volunteers, fundraisers, and neighborhood champions. To date, the firm has worked collectively to support Chrysalis, Cell Phones for Soldiers, Free Arts for Abused Children, Sunshine Acres, Junior Achievement of Arizona, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Child Crisis Arizona and more.
Pat Williams, managing director, JLL
Williams was the tournament chairman for the 2023 edition of the WM Phoenix Open Presented by Taylor Morrison. “The Thunderbird organization is very proud of the overall success of the tournament, but our main focus continues to be on the mission of charitable giving and the tremendous impact it has on the community,” Williams says. The 2022 edition of “The People’s Open” raised more than $10 million for Arizona charities.
Angels of the Year (business)
Chasse Building Team: At CHASSE, philanthropy is at the core of everything it does. A great example of this takes place whenever the team begins a new K-12 construction project. Its mission is to give while it builds by bringing construction into the classroom. CHASSE does this by partnering with the architects and the school districts to provide hands-on, real-time Project-Based Learning (PBL) classes as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs and presentations on construction.
Gila River Resorts & Casinos: Gila River Resorts & Casinos donated a combined $110,000 to notMYkid and Gabriel’s Angels. Both organizations were the recipients of Gila River’s Everi kiosk program, which allows casino guests to donate to select nonprofits from their winning ticket vouchers. notMYkid supports children with high-impact prevention education and early intervention programs to help them thrive in their daily lives. Gabriel’s Angels works with underserved youth to help them navigate childhood through the power of animal therapy.
Meritage Homes : Meritage Homes has a 37-year legacy of helping shape stronger, more resilient communities across the country. The company supports a wide-range of charitable organizations and causes through its philanthropic arm, the Meritage Cares Foundation. In 2022, Meritage donated a total of $3.4 million and contributed approximately 2,800 volunteer hours to various organizations across the U.S. Meritage has also worked with the Arizona Housing Fund, donated more than $75,000 in 2022.
Loven Contracting: Loven, a small general contractor based in Flagstaff, is improving lives and building neighborhoods. In addition to financially supporting more than 30 nonprofit organizations each year, Loven also offers two benefits that strengthen community nonprofits. They are volunteer time off (every employee can take three hours of paid time off each month to volunteer) and an employee-directed giving program (each employee can make a company-funded contribution of $50 a year to the nonprofit of their choice).
Risas Dental And Braces: Held annually on Labor Day, Risas Dental’s Labor of Love sees all staff members committing their holiday to provide free treatment at each Risas location. In 2021, the event provided $500,000 worth of care, with the 2022 edition surpassing $680,000 and serving 1,500 patients annually. This year, Risas is poised to celebrate a momentous milestone, having delivered $10 million in free dental care since the inception of Labor of Love in 2011.
Collaborations of the Year
Arizona Diamondbacks, UnitedHealthcare and Kitchen on the Street: CEO Lisa Scarpinato has been instrumental in launching the “Fresh on Deck” program in collaboration with the Arizona Diamondbacks and United Healthcare, a nutrition education program focusing on the “promise neighborhoods” in the Metro Phoenix area. The Fresh on Deck sessions teach students the five main food groups and the importance of eating from each group daily and each student is provided five pounds of fresh produce in the canvas bag.
Delta Dental and Banner Health HOPE Program: In July 2023, after piloting the program for nearly a year at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, Delta Dental of Arizona and the Banner Health Foundation expanded the Hospital Oral Care and Periodontal Disease Education (HOPE) program protocol to Banner’s 28 acute-care hospitals across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, and Wyoming. This enables Banner medical centers to implement the oral health protocol, potentially serving up to 300,000 patients each year.
Fiesta Bowl and SRP’s Wishes for Teachers: Each year, the Fiesta Bowl Organization honors, supports, and celebrates educators throughout Arizona, granting 400 teachers with $2,500 each through the Palo Verde Fiesta Bowl Charities Wishes for Teachers Draft Day presented by SRP. In 2022, the wishes were spread throughout the state with 72 cities and towns represented amongst the 400 teachers selected. Nearly 212,000 students across 321 schools and 95 districts were positively impacted by their teachers’ wishes.
Intel, Fulton Homes, and the Chandler Fashion Center school supply drive: Intel, Fulton Homes and Chandler Fashion Center hosted a ‘Stuff the Bus’ event to gather necessary school supplies for local students. The companies provided 100 back-to-school kits, containing learning essentials, to the Boys and Girls Club of the Valley to ensure students have tools to succeed. Intel and its employees have made a total contribution of more tan $35 million to support Arizona schools and nonprofits since 2018.
Panda Express and Phoenix Children’s Hospital: In August, Panda Express announced its $14.8 million, 10-year pledge to Phoenix Children’s and unveiled the new Panda Cares Center of Hope playroom on the ninth floor of the Thomas Campus. The impact of this pledge will be felt indefinitely at Phoenix Children’s by patients, staff and families, leaving a true lasting legacy. To date, Panda has raised more than $150 million for hospitals affiliated with Children’s Miracle Network hospitals, including Phoenix Children’s.