Zip Code Project Updates

Published: January 5th, 2018

Zip Code Project: South Phoenix Community Meeting Announcement

Opportunity from the start!

The Arizona Department of Education and Phoenix Union High School District to host a Zip Code Project Community Meeting from 4:30pm-6:30pm on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at South Mountain High School (5401 S 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85040). The meeting is free and open to the public.

School, community, business, and tribal members are invited to join to address the unique challenges facing 85040 and surrounding communities regarding disconnected youth ages 16-to-24-year-olds who are not working and not in school.

Phoenix area youth face a myriad of challenges in overcoming disconnection, though its through no shortage of resources. Community, school, and business leaders in previous meetings have commented on several areas these youth seem to struggle with, but we continue to work on narrowing our focus into specific areas that can be addressed in a timely manner.

With a lot of wonderful organizations working toward bettering the youth of South Phoenix, we continue to invite new members to join us in empowering our young adults and getting them set on a productive track back toward a successful life.

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Published: January 4th, 2018

Zip Code Project: Ajo Community Meeting Announcement

Starting 2018 with Opportunity!

The Arizona Department of Education and Ajo Unified School District to host a Zip Code Project Education Community Meeting from 5:30pm-6:30pm on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at the Ajo Unfied School District Governing Board Room (111 N Well Rd, Ajo AZ 85321). The meeting is free and open to the public.

School, community, business, and tribal members are invited to join to address the unique challenges facing 85321 and surrounding communities regarding disconnected youth ages 16-to-24-year-olds who are not working and not in school.

ADE recognizes the unique challenges facing Ajo, and we know of the 16-to-24-year-olds in the region that 55% are not in school, and 65% are unemployed. (More about Ajo challenges here.) Yet there is hope in the organizations already working to alleviate the pressures on those youth. Some of the organizations already providing amazing outreach and support to disconnected youth are the International Sonoran Desert Alliance, the Las Artes School, the Pima Community Action Agency, Youth on the Rise, Ajo Unified School District and the United Way of Tucson and Southern AZ.

Even with so many great partners at the table, we have room for more. Only by gaining the unique insight others are able to provide can we get the necessary resources to the youth of Pima County and surrounding communities to get them back on the road to successful, productive lives. Join us!

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Published: May 9th, 2017

Zip Code Project: Phoenix Launch Event

Zip Code Project-Phoenix LaunchApril 27, 2017

The Launch

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas kicked off the Phoenix launch of the Zip Code Project. At the press conference on Thursday April 27th, integral members of the education community spoke to the continued development of the Zip Code Project in Phoenix neighborhoods, in addition to the work already accomplished in other parts of the state.

“It is impossible for our education system to prepare students to be successful citizens if they are not attending school,” Superintendent Douglas said. “Our mission with the Zip Code Project is to help these young adults get back on track to a fulfilling, happy and productive life. Our job is to give them every opportunity to get a first-class education, as well as a chance to pursue their hopes and dreams.”

The event was hosted in the South Phoenix at South Mountain High School, which along with Maryvale, are the two communities that were launched in the Phoenix area. Chinle and Ajo are the other two zip codes that have integrated the program into their communities.

Starting from the ground floor in 2015 with limited funding, Zip Code Manager Christopher Dickinson has collaborated and partnered with local clergy, community organizations, cities, neighborhoods, parole and probation officers, alternative high schools, as well as education and business leaders to assist these youth.

“The Zip Code Project leverages public-private partnerships to identify and implement solutions and resources to prevent to assist with dropout prevention and support alternative paths to success,” Dickinson said. “This is not an easy issue to combat, but I am grateful to all of the communities for their continuous support and dedication. I look forward to even further expansion of this program to more zip codes throughout the state in the near future.”

These are the speakers from the event – Click on image to go to their site:

Zip Code S Phx Launch 13 Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas spoke about the Zip Code Project and the need to open up opportunity for our youth.
Zip Code S Phx Launch 15 Christopher Dickinson, Manager of the Zip Code Project, developed the Zip Code Project under the direction of Superintendent Douglas.
Zip Code S Phx Launch 16 Elora Diaz, Opportunities for Youth Initiative, spoke about the OFY initiative in Maricopa County and how we collaborate.
Zip Code S Phx Launch 19 Cyndi Tercero, Phoenix Union High School District, spoke about PUHSD and the Dropout Prevention work they do exceptionally well.
Zip Code S Phx Launch 22 Binky Jones, Ombudsman Educational Services, spoke about how Ombudsman and the AZ Alt Schools collaborate with the Zip Code Project.
Zip Code S Phx Launch 25 Karen Callahan, Genesis City/Academy, introduced Mr. Jones and spoke about Genesis and the importance of programs such as the Zip Code Project.

Posted in Zip Code Project Updates |
Published: January 24th, 2017

Partner Spotlight: International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA)


International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA)

The International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1993 and governed by a board of directors representing the indigenous and non-indigenous populations of the U.S. and Mexico. This group of concerned individuals has gathered to make a change in the community. Their shared goals and values, despite coming from all walks of life, have led them to come together as a community to make a difference.

Vision: Establish the region as a showcase for environmental excellence and an international center for arts and culture with a prosperous and sustainable economy offering opportunities for all its residents.

Mission: Design and implement environmental, cultural, real estate and business development projects intended to preserve and enrich the environment, culture and economy of the Sonoran Desert.

The ISDA plans to:

  • Promote the concept and practice of conservation throughout the bio region;
  • Provide education in ways of protecting and respecting valuable biological and cultural resources and traditions;
  • Develop creative and sustainable solutions to critical local issues such as housing and economic development;
  • Provide practical opportunities for individual and community action.

Sonoran Desert Conference Center

The Sonoran Desert Conference Center is one of the many ventures that ISDA is involve with as a way to reach out and engage the community with the Ajo culture. The new Sonoran Desert Conference Center in Ajo, Arizona offers one-of-a-kind hospitality that engages visitors in the rich culture of the Southwest. It is located in the heart of the spectacular Sonoran Desert on the beautifully restored Curley School campus just a short walk to the town’s historic, Spanish style plaza. They offer accommodations and meeting services with a menu of authentic cultural, artistic, scientific and outdoor adventures for individuals and groups.

Community Learning Center

The Community Learning Center is a program established by ISDA that aid teens and young adults in preparing them for the GED test. ISDA’s Community Learning Center and the GED Program are housed in the beautifully renovated historic Curley School cafeteria. The GED program currently offers both afternoon and evening sessions. The afternoon sessions meet weekdays from 12-3 p.m. and helps prepare Native American, Mexican, and Anglo youth, aged 16-24 to pass the newly revised, on-line GED test. Their evening session, which also offers Adult Basic Education instruction, meets Wednesdays from 6-8 p.m. Laptops are available for students to use in improving their test scores via on-line practice tests and activities. Students work at their own pace following individualized learning plans. Other learning activities offered include art instruction, movement games, field trips, and cooking. In addition, a Work-Study option provides students the opportunity to develop important job skills while earning a stipend through placement at a local sponsoring business.

Ajo Art

Ajo Art is a collection of art around town, the majority of which is accessible to the public. Over the past years, Ajo has evolved into a haven for hikers, mountain bikers, artists, bird watchers, environmentalists and star gazers. Combined with its history as a tri-cultural copper mining town, Ajo’s eclectic nature and diversity are expressed in a wonderful display of public art, community art, and outsider art. These terms are defined as follows:

Public Art – art that has been planned and executed with the intention of being displayed in a public place. Community Art – art based in a community setting and has been created with community participation. Outsider Art – work by artists who are self-taught or who have little contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions.

Since partnering with the Zip Code Project in the summer of 2016, ISDA has been conducive in organizing events in the Ajo area. There is a lot of work to be done, however we are eager to witness the growth of our partnership with ISDA and the Ajo Community in the upcoming months and years.

You can find additional information about ISDA at:

Posted in Zip Code Project Updates |
Published: January 5th, 2017

Happy New Year



Happy New Year!

The Zip Code Project looks forward to serving the youth in Arizona in new and exciting ways. Here is a preview of what is to come in 2017:

  • Launching the 85031 and 85040 Phoenix-area zip code community groups of action. (February 2017)
  • A potential west-Phoenix pilot project targeting guidance counselors in partnership with other agencies. (Spring 2017)
  • Announcing the addition of two new zip codes (Summer 2017)
  • We will be partnering and collaborating with a greater number of organizations. (All Year)
  • And much more to be announced!

Progress is being made in the mission to assist disconnected youth around Arizona by working together. Continue to collaborate, partner, and communicate to help these young people find the path to success that fits them. Remember, education is not one size fits all.



Posted in Zip Code Project Updates |
Published: December 15th, 2016

Partner Spotlight: Opportunity Nation


Opportunity Nation: The Shared Plan to Restore Opportunity

Opportunity Nation is a bipartisan, national campaign comprised of more than 350 cross-sector organizations working together to expand economic mobility and close the opportunity gap in America.

Mission: Opportunity Nation’s mission is to restore the promise of the American Dream by ensuring that all Americans – regardless of where they were born – have the opportunity to thrive.

Approach: Measure access to opportunity, advance bipartisan legislation, and convene cross-sector groups nationally.

They believe that expanding economic mobility is the defining issue of our time. Closing the opportunity gap will take innovative, bipartisan, cross-sector solutions grounded in data and collaboration

Opportunity Index

One of the key aspects of the fantastic work that Opportunity Nation does is developing the Opportunity Index. This index is an annual composite measure at the state and county levels of economic, educational and civic factors that expand opportunity. Click here for more information about the Opportunity Index.

The index is comprised of several difference metrics related to jobs/economy, education, and community. Opportunity Nation uses data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census, American Community Survey, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), US Department of Education, EDFacts, Department of Justice and the US Department of Health and Human Services. The learn more about their data sources, click here.

Arizona Trends

With the release of the 2016 Opportunity Index, we can see how the country is doing on improving opportunity. Overall opportunity in America has increased by 8.9% since 2011. Nationally, unemployment rates are decreasing, violent crime rates dropping, and youth disconnection is going down as well. For more on the national trends, click here.

In Arizona, the opportunity outlook is starting to improve. Especially for our youth. Here are a few data comparisons from 2015-2016:

Topic 2015 2016
Unemployment Rate (%) 5.7% 5.5%
Median Household Income ($) $45,405 $46,115
Povery (% below poverty line) 18.6% 18.2%
Preschool (% ages 3 and 4 in school) 34.8% 36.3%
On-Time High School Graduation (% four year) 75.1% 75.7%
Disconnected Youth (%) 17.3% 15.2%
Disconnected Youth (#) 146,510 129,372

For more information and to take a look at the 2016 Opportunity Index, please go to

For the 2016 Summary of Findings from Opportunity Nation, click here to download the report.

Posted in Zip Code Project Updates |