Thousands of Valley students impacted by Phoenix Achieves

Phoenix, AZ | Submitted by Tim Valencia

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Improving educational outcomes can help a city attract new business and improve quality of life for all of its residents. That’s why the City of Phoenix has created Phoenix Achieves, an umbrella program, and vision for educational initiatives aimed at boosting achievement.

Launched about a year ago, Phoenix Achieves goals and programs align with the Arizona Education Progress Meter to capitalize on changes at the state, city and district level. With a particular focus on high quality early learning, third-grade reading, eighth-grade math, and high school graduation, Phoenix Achieves was developed based on a recommendation from the city’s youth and education commission. After mapping assets that Phoenix was providing, it was easy to see that a variety of impactful services were already moving the needle. And thanks to the Progress Meter and more focused goals, city leaders can now evaluate potential new programs to determine whether they’re aligned with the vision for education.

As an example, Phoenix is utilizing the Experience Corps, or trained senior volunteer tutors, to help budding readers build their literacy skills. Over the past four years, this partnership has reached more than 1,100 Phoenix youth and helped to increase third-grade reading by getting more than 80% to benchmark. And to help kids get off on the right academic foot, Phoenix offers 169 preschool classes and 4 childcare partnership sites across the city. The comprehensive services offered through the Birth to Five program support critical components to families helping them achieve educational, social and nutritional goals. This two-generational approach prepares children for success in the kindergarten classroom. With more than 3,151 children enrolled in classes and another 300 enrolled in the home-based model, there is no doubt that these opportunities are creating positive change.  And for those who don’t have Head Start available, the city’s Kindergarten Bootcamp can help children and parents alike. This interactive, parent/child class has been around for three years and has served 3,700 residents so far.

For youth who are older, Phoenix is now offering free access to an online high school where students who had previously dropped out of school can study and graduate with a high school diploma, rather than pursuing a GED. It’s an important offering since those who seek to return to their studies often don’t want to face the long-term stigma of a GED.

Phoenix is also a key player in the college access community by providing free, individualized college planning support to students and families, six days a week at College Depot. Services include information and assistance with financial aid, college applications, scholarships and education planning.

With many more programs active today, the city’s educational leadership continues to examine data from AzMERIT, high school graduation, dropouts, and more to monitor which communities need additional services. By utilizing the data, they’re able to identify areas of high need and adjust accordingly and create meaningful change in the community.

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