PHOENIX (January 14, 2021) – A for Arizona announced today the seven public school districts and public charter schools launching small learning communities that will receive Expansion and Innovation Fund grants. In a continuation of the work to discover new ways of teaching and learning that is best for students, A for Arizona received a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund in October 2020 to increase high-quality education options for underserved students through small learning communities. The GEER funding was allocated in the Federal CARES Act this past spring to address disruptions caused by COVID-19 and to support those communities hit hardest by the pandemic.

“A for Arizona’s Expansion & Innovation Fund is at the forefront of identifying and supporting public education models that have proven results for working families,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. “The small learning community grants will create additional community partnerships and create free, personalized learning options for high-need students.”

The demand for free, accessible small learning communities has increased recently as parents are shifting toward individual and personalized learning models to address inequities by mass school closures. The grants recognize innovations to create effective community-driven small learning models that are targeted at serving our high-need populations in the state.

The grant applications were reviewed and assessed by a committee of local and national education, philanthropic and industry leaders. The committee is awarding grants with the potential to reach nearly 1,000 public school students, providing learning options in four Arizona counties including proposals meeting the needs of rural and remote communities.

“Arizona families have responded to the current pandemic by finding new opportunities like pods, micro-schooling, learning hubs, schools-within-schools, and small school concepts to ensure a successful educational environment for their children,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, Founder and CEO of A for Arizona. “Together, we are sparking a new generation of innovative and collaborative educational community opportunities for public school students – especially low-income students – that are already increasingly in demand by Arizona families. We are encouraged by the innovation and community-driven solutions in these Small Learning Communities proposals and heartened by the number of students who will directly benefit from these student-centered models this spring semester.”

The Small Learning Community Grant Awardees include:

  • Arizona Autism Charter School, Early Learning Center
  • CASA Academy
  • Crane Elementary District, Gowan Science Academy
  • Edison School of Innovation
  • Patagonia Elementary School District #6, Patagonia Elementary School
  • Tanque Verde Unified School District, Tanque Verde High School
  • Vail Unified School District

For more information about the grant awardees selected, please view the Small Learning Community snapshot profile.

School leaders, parents, or community leaders interested in pursuing a Small Learning Community can complete a request here. Future Expansion & Innovation Fund grant opportunities will be available and outlined on A for Arizona’s website.


About A for Arizona
At A for Arizona, we firmly believe that expanding excellence is our best chance to ensure all K-12 students have access to, and benefit from, high-performing schools and all educational opportunities. We imagine a day where excellence has spread, and failure has fallen away, leaving only the best learning options available for all students.