August 5, 2022

Celebrating One Year of Education Forward Arizona

Student success equals Arizona’s success!

This month, we celebrate our one-year anniversary and our vision to create a more robust education organization—work that includes advocating for education policies that advance education equity, mentoring college students and providing scholarships—as well as working in high schools helping to create a college-going culture across the state.

Last summer, we began advocating for and acting on education improvements that advance the quality of life for all Arizonans.

We’ve made good on our commitment to improve education outcomes and close achievement gaps— from early learning through postsecondary attainment.  

We are proud of all that we have accomplished in our first year and look forward to doing more great work to move education forward.

Join us as we look back at some of the highlights from our first year and look ahead to what’s next.  

Advocacy in Action 

The Arizona Education Progress Meter includes 8 goals for education that give us a shared vision for where we want education to be in 2030. But what will it take to meet the goals? This summer, we began convening more than 200 educators, students, and business and community leaders from across the state with the goal of creating a shared action plan to reach the goals. The plan should be available in the coming weeks. 

We’ve used our Education Explainer series to provide more details about legislation impacting education, from the latest budget, high school graduation requirements and the Aggregate Expenditure Limit (AEL).    

We also launched the Education Forward Advocates Network and are hosting monthly Power Hours to build upon participants’ advocacy skills and knowledge on pressing issues affecting education in our state.

Throughout the legislative session, we took action and provided testimony on legislation aligned with our advocacy priorities. We also mobilized our Advocates Network to take action on key legislation by asking them to call and email their policymakers. Notably, we rallied more than 210 partners urging the legislature to address the K-12 Aggregate Expenditure Limit during the last school year.

We added our voice on these issues and worked with other partners to advocate together for things such as early literacy, increasing Career and Technical Education (CTE) and STEM educators, creating new programs to support Arizonans to work towards attainment, helping special needs students have a smoother entry into postsecondary education, expanding dual enrollment for tribal colleges and more. 

In May, we conducted a poll to better understand Arizona voters’ priorities for education. As we head into the general election, we’re committed to getting candidates to discuss these issues.  

Moving the Attainment Needle 

One of our primary focuses has been to reach the Achieve60AZ state attainment goal. We will achieve this, in part, by growing our programs that serve low-income and first-generation students, helping them to reach and complete a postsecondary education.  

This past school year, we provided nearly 25,000 Arizona high school seniors at 159 high schools with 24/7 help to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, thanks to our Ask Benji program.  

Our Success Advisers mentored more than 550 Arizona college students and 163 Education Forward Arizona Scholars earned college degrees! 

We also expanded the partnership between our organization and the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation, which is investing $6 million to provide scholarships and support services to 200 Native American students

While Arizona’s school counselor-to-student ratio continues to fall short of what is needed, our team has helped fill the gap by providing schools with our College Knowing & Going (CKG) and AdviseAZ programs. 

Our CKG program worked with 26 high schools to implement College Readiness Teams, made up of counselors, teachers, administrators, AdviseAZ members and CKG Student Ambassadors to create a college-going culture in their school.

Additionally, our AdviseAZ AmeriCorps program provided nearly 700 students with assistance in the college-going process through one-on-one and group meetings with near-peer advisers.    

This spring, we co-hosted the Rural College Access and Success Summit, bringing together more than 350 educators and community leaders from across the country to learn and share ideas and strategies to help rural students successfully transition from high school to college and career.  

We’re also proud to have served as a trusted voice and source on education issues across the state with nearly 200 media mentions, including in print, Television, radio, online news stories and commentaries, representing an estimated 7+ million media impressions in our first year. 

Looking Ahead 

As we head into our second year, we’re excited to collaborate with even more schools across the state to grow and scale our programs. We will continue to make the case for education as an investment and not an expense. 

You’ll see us advocating for the passage of Prop 308, speaking out about the impact of the expansion of Arizona’s empowerment scholarship accounts (ESA) and continuing to raise awareness of the education issues Arizona voters care about in the general election. 

We’re continuing to forge new partnerships to advance the Achieve60AZ attainment goal through the Arizona Attainment Network and the Voice of Attainment effort.  

On Oct. 20, we will honor Benito Almanza, Arizona president for Bank of America, as our inaugural Luminary Award recipient and celebrate other inspiring educational leaders and organizations at our benefit and awards dinner, An InspirED Evening

We’re proud of what we have been able to accomplish thus far and we are excited for what is ahead. We also know that none of it would be possible without the help of all our supporters, partners, education advocates, and businesses and community leaders across Arizona. Thank you!