This story was originally published by North Central News, the voice of the north central Phoenix community, in February 2021.

A local non-profit organization is helping schools offer small-group instruction to try to boost students’ achievement and foster community collaboration.

A for Arizona recently announced that seven public school districts and charter schools that launched small learning communities will receive Expansion and Innovation Fund grants. These grants will support free, accessible programs that emphasize individual and personalized learning models to tackle inequities caused by mass school closures. A vetting committee of local and national education, philanthropic and industry leaders reviewed the grant applications. The grants will allow the schools to reach nearly 1,000 public school students, offering learning options in Maricopa County and three other counties in the state.

Arizona Autism Charter School, Early Learning Center, in North Central was one of the grant recipients. Emily Anne Gullickson, founder and CEO of A for Arizona, said Arizona Autism Charter School saw a large waiting list for early learners in grades kindergarten through second in the fall. Gullickson said the campus wanted to develop “an approach for these small learning experiences.”

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