New learning models have potential to reach nearly 3,000 students

PHOENIX (September 14, 2021) – A for Arizona announced today its final Southern Arizona Microgrant awardees. The microgrants will empower innovative school and community leaders, teachers, and families to implement their bold ideas for reimagining learning models, creating and scaling more student-focused programs, and developing better teaching and learning educational approaches.

“Education and entrepreneurs in Southern Arizona are known for innovative collaborations, first-of-its-kind community-driven concepts, and disruptive student-focused models of learning,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, Founder and CEO of A for Arizona. “The quality and caliber of applications we received for the first round of Southern Arizona Microgrants shows that our local leaders have bold ideas and are eager to develop creative solutions to address the current challenges facing our K-12 education system. By embracing innovation, collaborative partnerships, and entrepreneurial mindsets, Arizona has a tremendous opportunity to leverage these success points and scale models that enable students to thrive.”

The microgrant applications were reviewed and assessed by a committee of local and national education, philanthropic and industry leaders. In this first round, the Vetting Committee awarded over $140,000 microgrant awards with the potential to reach nearly 3,000 students in Southern Arizona.

The new Southern Arizona Microgrants awardees include:

  • Agua Caliente Elementary – Tanque Verde Unified School District, Tucson, Pima County
  • Ajo High School & Elementary School – Ajo Unified School District, Ajo, Pima County
  • Holladay Fine Arts Magnet Elementary School – Tucson Unified School District, Tucson, Pima County
  • Scholarships A -Z, Tucson, Pima County            
  • Nogales Unified School District #1 & Boys & Girls Club – Nogales, Nogales, Santa Cruz County
  • Gowan Science Academy – Crane Elementary District, Yuma, Yuma County         

The Southern Arizona Microgrants are supported by private philanthropic support in collaboration with the VELA Education Fund, Burton Family Foundation, Pima IDA and Community Investment Corporation, as well as generous individuals in the community.

“VELA supports families and communities to develop nontraditional educational models that meet students’ needs, and we are excited to learn from Southern Arizona grantees in the months and years ahead,” said Meredith Olson, President of VELA. “The A for Arizona Southern Arizona Microgrant has been a great opportunity to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in Southern Arizona and help fund programs that are having a real impact on students. We look forward to supporting more educators across Southern Arizona who are embracing innovation to strengthen our community.”

Teachers, public and private school and system leaders, families, and innovative community partnerships all play a critical role to meet the moment and accelerate learning for their students in Southern Arizona communities. A for Arizona provided up to $25,000 in seed funding through their Expansion & Innovation Fund for bold proposals that accelerate education innovation and opportunity for PreK-12 students in Southern Arizona. Eligibility was limited to PreK-12 edupreneurs in Cochise, Pima, Santa Cruz, and Yuma counties.

For more information about the grant recipients selected, please view the Southern Arizona Microgrant snapshot profile.

The next Southern Arizona Microgrant cycle opens on Wednesday, September 15. The application can be accessed in the Expansion & Innovation Fund grant portal here.

Since its launch, A for Arizona has awarded over $1.75 million in seed funding through its Expansion & Innovation Fund forming a diverse portfolio of school replications, innovative learning models aimed to boldly redefine education, and best practices to better support Arizona’s most vulnerable student populations.

Meet the Recipients


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.