SVPAZ: Education Affinity Group Update

Jun 20, 2016

Education Affinity Group Update

John DeWulf

by John DeWulf, SVPAZ Partner and Attorney at Coppersmith Brockelman





Summertime doesn’t mean SVPAZ is putting its education initiatives on the back burner. Just the opposite, actually. The SVPAZ Education Affinity Group accomplished a lot during the last school calendar year and is forging ahead with many new or continued initiatives. Our committee of 15 Partners devoted a lot of time, talent, and dollars to strengthen Arizona schools, particularly those in the Phoenix Union High School District.

Highlights include:

  • Partners worked closely with Phoenix Union High School District (PUHSD) administrators providing executive coaching, mentoring, and leadership.
  • Spearheaded tours of local major businesses including Alliance Bank and CopperPoint Mutual for PUSHD aspiring principals. These tours provide an opportunity for educators to expand their “toolbox” through exposure to business leaders. The connections forge a different way of thinking for educators that we know helps drive innovative solutions to daily issues.
  • Supported Dr. Chad Gestson’s appointment at Superintendent of PUHSD. Dr. Gestson has been nurtured by SVPAZ since 2010 and we’re so proud of his professional evolution.
  • Educated Partners and opinion leaders on the PUHSD Bond Initiative that ultimately passed.
  • Toured Phoenix Coding Academy and Linda Abril Educational Academy as potential Investees.
  • Hosted speakers from Elevate Phoenix and the Arizona Teacher of the Year.
  • Discussed and analyzed SVPAZ’s role in public policy and advocacy in public education.
  • Initiated a mini grant program that awarded $500 for innovative projects. In its inception, 30 high schools applied and we awarded ten high school projects a total of $5K.

During the next year, the committee is hoping to expand programming to the new Linda Abril Education Academy, which is scheduled to open for the 2016-2017 school year. With a strong interest in advocacy and public policy, we will continue to bring in experts to help guide us in having a wider influence. And, to continue to move the needle, we are hoping to recruit YOU as an additional partner to support our mission.

The SVPAZ Education Affinity Group during a brainstorm session.

Launched in 2010, the SVPAZ Education Affinity founding members were concerned since Valley schools had been deteriorating in student outcomes. Put simply, the SVPAZ Education Affinity group’s goal is to find ways to support and improve the local public schools. We’re looking for individuals interested in continuing to progress the Valley’s K-12 educational opportunities and supporting its existing infrastructure. The group meets monthly to discuss topics in education, hear from experts, and determine how SVPAZ can make an impact through strategic grant making and engaged philanthropy. We welcome any and all ideas!

A huge thanks to the Arizona First Advised Fund for supporting the SVPAZ Education Affinity group since 2015.

If you’re interested in joining us for the 2016-2017 school year, please let us know. Contact Sentari Minor for details.