PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation announced today the 31 winning schools in the “D-backs $150,000 Back-To-School Challenge,” presented by the University of Phoenix. With nearly 600 submissions from Arizona schools, the winning grants come from all around the state of Arizona and will fund projects ranging in need from school improvements to innovative educational programs. The program, which was brought back by popular demand after the initial announcement in March, has donated $250,000 to 51 Valley schools over the past nine months.
“We were extremely impressed with the innovative projects that Arizona teachers and principals have submitted which will leave a lasting impact on not only each individual student but each school’s extended community,” said D-backs President & CEO Derrick Hall. “This program is an investment in the future of Arizona and we are thrilled to be able to help encourage creativity that will enhance the academic experience for students and satisfy the profound need of so many schools throughout the state.”
Winning schools will use the grant money to satisfy an array of needs. School improvements range from automatic doors for kids with disabilities to a computer lab upgrade. Nutrition and fitness projects include new and revitalized campus gardens to promote healthy eating and feature a rainwater harvesting system. One school has requested the grant for supplies to support a farmer’s market in order to sell the home-grown vegetables and fruits to people in their community. Additional projects featured highly innovative educational programs, including: an online school newspaper, student-designed and constructed solar house, a micro-power grid utilizing solar and hydro energy alternatives, and iPad technology to host debates via Skype with a partner school in India.
Thirty-one schools were awarded the grants, instead of the originally announced 30 schools, to accommodate the needs of two schools that will split a $5,000 grant to improve their school gardens. Each winning school will be honored and receive a check on the field at a 2013 D-backs game next April and May at Chase Field. The D-backs will donate 1,000 tickets for students, parents, teachers and staff to attend the D-backs’ game in which their school will be honored.
“The winners of the $150,000 School Challenge are looking to improve their personal classrooms and create a better learning experience for future generations,” said Dr. Bill Pepicello, president of University of Phoenix. “Our schools are facing tough challenges but these entries prove that creativity and hard work thrives in the Valley’s educators. University of Phoenix congratulates the winners.”
Submissions from teachers and faculty came from 14 counties in the state and 68 cities. All public, private and nonprofit charter schools, Grades K-12 were eligible and the winning schools sought to bring in funds to assist in one of four categories: educational programs, innovation and technology, nutrition and fitness and school/campus improvements.
Each of the schools that did not receive a grant will be personally contacted by a D-backs representative and encouraged to reapply when the D-backs and the University of Phoenix kick off the third round of the program next fall.
The $150,000 Back-To-School Challenge is part of the organization’s overall charitable efforts and earlier this year, the team and its charitable arm, the Arizona Diamondbacks Foundation, surpassed $30 million in combined donations since their inception in 1998.