I’ve been asked a lot, “why is A for Arizona launching an expansion fund?” The answer is simple.

No child should have to wait for a school that will match their full potential.

The heart of A for Arizona’s work is to learn from our best performing schools and their leaders in order to shape public policy toward achieving the goal of a constantly improving and expanding system of public schools that will serve all students at the highest level.

In our first two years, we traveled the state, learning from – and frankly marveling at – what leaders in Arizona’s best district, magnet, and charter schools have been able to accomplish for their students.

We challenged them to grow their impact, and learned what policy conditions were necessary to support that growth.

We made great strides in putting the policies in place to help Arizona’s best schools expand and grow. During this time, Arizona saw some of the highest academic gains in the country as parents and families continued to seek out the very best public education options for their children.

Waitlists grew, and we challenged our highest performing leaders, yet again, to serve more and more kids in their communities. And again, we asked, “What do you want to accomplish, and what will it take to get you there?”

We were thrilled (but, knowing our dynamic leaders, not actually surprised) to learn of the amazing growth plans that our high-performing district, magnet, and charter leaders had in the works. Our leaders were thinking outside the box, dreaming up creative solutions to common challenges: access to school facilities, maintaining student pipelines across grade levels, eliminating quality school deserts for all communities.

We also saw our district and charter leaders start to intensify their collaboration. Our most active school leaders no longer believe they are competing against one another, but rather against failure. True district-charter partnerships are no longer a pipe dream, but a proximate reality.

With just a bit of cash, between $250,000 and $1.5 million, these leaders assured us they could put their plans into action within one year instead of five, drastically increasing the number of high-quality public school options for low-income students now. We knew that we had to act.

Enter the A for Arizona public school Expansion Fund, a first-of-its-kind, statewide philanthropic fund designed to spark and accelerate the growth of Arizona’s highest performing public schools, especially those serving low-income communities.

Our Fund welcomes proposals from all high-achieving public schools – district, magnet, and charter.

Since our inception, A for Arizona has been agnostic to school model, focusing only on expanding what works for our kids. Our Expansion Fund will be no different. When we say all public schools, we mean it.

We have a big goal. We plan to give at least 5,000 more students access to a quality public school each year. With $1.25 million in seed funding from The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation, our Expansion Fund is poised to be a real change maker for Arizona’s public schools and our work is just beginning.

We imagine a day where excellence has spread, and failure has simply fallen away, leaving only the best learning options available for all students.