Group Awards Yuma Finalists $1,000 Each

2013-04-11 21:38:01


In the first stop on its statewide tour, Expect More Arizona partnered with the Yuma Chamber of Commerce to spotlight “educational excellence” happening in the Yuma area.

After accepting nominations from across the state, Expect More Arizona — an advocacy organization for education in Arizona — announced three local finalists Thursday who were awarded $1,000 for the program of their choice.

Ready Now Yuma and I’m Going to College programs were named finalists along with Dateland Elementary School, said Pearl Chang Esau, CEO and President of Expect More Arizona.

• Ready Now Yuma: The partnership between Yuma Union High School District and Helios Education Foundation aims to ensure college and career readiness for all students.

“It takes a whole community effort to make it happen, and (the program) fits right with Expect More Arizona’s higher expectations, world-class achievement for all,” said Esau, noting that submissions for the contest were judged on how they fit into five building blocks essential to education: world-class achievement, excellence for all, commitment to innovation, strategic investment and communities working together.

• I’m Going to College: A program between Arizona Western College and Northern Arizona University Yuma Branch Campus invites fifth-graders from across Yuma and La Paz to their campus to experience a day in the life of a college student.

“Research says that if you can expose students who are first-generation to college at least three times between kindergarten through 12th grade, they’re exponentially more likely to actually go. They’re doing a great job of building that college-going culture,” Esau said.

• Dateland Elementary School: Located in one of the poorest communities in the state, the school was recognized for being awarded an “A” letter grade by the Arizona Department of Education after six years of being labeled a performing plus school.

“They’ve worked incredibly hard to make sure that their socioeconomic status doesn’t determine their destiny, and it’s amazing that they have actually achieved the highest performance score that a school can receive in our state,” said Esau.

Although the selection committee had to narrow down the winners for the Yuma area to just three finalists, she said they had many incredible education successes to choose from with 16 submissions from the Yuma, La Paz and Mohave counties.

“What we’re really excited about is that there are incredible examples of educators and parents and communities that are working so hard to bring a world-class education to all of our students, even in some of our communities that face some of the greatest challenges.”

Esau noted that the main point of the Expect More Excellence tour is to show people that excellence is possible in all areas of the state. “There’s no excuse, no reason why we can’t achieve this level of excellence for all of our students.”

The selection committee for Yuma finalists included Dr. Eric Aurand from Arizona State University Colleges at Lake Havasu, Madeline Coil from United Way of Yuma County and Richard Tozer from Arizona Western College-La Paz Learning Center.

Visit for more information about the tour and to see other submissions from the local area.