Stone Canyon Community Foundation Announces $250,000 in Youth Funding

Stone Canyon Community Foundation (SCCF), a donor-advised fund held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, is pleased to announce that a total of $250,000 was granted to 20 local nonprofit organizations in their 2021-22 Annual Grant Round. Grantees were selected based on their programs fulfilling the following needs: helping young people get and stay on track or take advantage of educational and other opportunities for their own self-improvement and development. These grants were made possible through the generosity of the members and residents of the Stone Canyon community.

SCCF supports nonprofit organizations whose endeavors positively impact the quality of life and development of youth in need in Oro Valley and the greater Tucson, Arizona area. In 14 years of giving, SCCF has granted over $3.25 Million to local nonprofits in Southern Arizona.

2021-22 Stone Canyon Community Foundation Grantees:


Grantee Highlights:

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona operates under the belief that inherent in every child is incredible potential. As Southern Arizona’s largest donor- and volunteer-supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 6 through young adulthood. They develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people.

“As we emerge from the impact of the pandemic, our organization is ready to help even more children and families, and the support of the Stone Canyon Community Foundation will be a great help in making that possible,” said Marie Logan, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Arizona. “Their support provides the necessary resources to recruit even more volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters who want to defend the potential inherent in all youth, and who are ready to step up and make a BIG difference in the lives of the kids we serve.”

Casa de los Niños’ vision is to increase the number of children and families living safe and healthy lives. They deliver a continuum of services – evidence-based and best practice models meld together prevention, intervention, and treatment strategies to effectively address the needs of at-risk children and their families within our community.

Susie Huhn, CEO of Casa de los Niños, discussed the importance of receiving high quality, early childcare through Casa de los Niños, describing it as, “The gift that lasts a lifetime. Children from low-income backgrounds who had access to 24 months or more of high-quality early education in the first five years of life were more likely to graduate college and earned higher salaried by age 26.”

El Grupo is a youth cycling organization that provides youth with experiences that are fun, skill-building, and bike centered, so that they can acquire the self-confidence and leadership skills to be active and healthy members of the community.

El Grupo shared, “Stone Canyon’s continuing support of El Grupo Cycling and our Manzo Elementary Bike Club helps create positive coaching and youth development to thrive through challenge-based goals and peer-to-peer mentoring. In the coming months, we will purchase a storage unit for the school to provide quality programming on the weekends which will help create more opportunities such as weekend hikes, campouts, and even more opportunities to ride!”

Higher Ground’s mission is to empower one life at a time to reach, transform and elevate their community through love and building character, and inspire youth and families to be part of lasting community contribution

Jansen Azarias-Suzumoto, CEO/President & Co-Founder of Higher Ground, shared, “Our organization believes that we need to support and engage families in order for us to have effective youth development. Supporting families allows our work to become sustainable and creates stability for our youth. From addressing housing issues, food insecurity, or family dynamics – Stone Canyon’s contribution will ensure that our families are able to reach, transform, and elevate their lives and communities.”

Literacy Connects envisions a community where every child graduates from high school, crime and poverty rates are low, a skilled workforce is fostering a thriving economy, and the arts and culture environment is second to none.

“The Stone Canyon Community Foundation is supporting the next generation of readers and book lovers. Thanks to this generous funding, we’re able to provide Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed program to children in under-resourced elementary schools across Tucson,” shared Tara Gibson, Marketing & Communications Manager for Literacy Connects. This support provides high-quality, high-interest books to help children increase their reading proficiency and instill a love of learning that will positively impact them for the rest of their lives. On behalf of the kids and teachers, thank you for your support!”

Make Way for Books is an early literacy nonprofit that provides proven programs, services, and resources to more than 18,000 young children, parents, and educators throughout southern Arizona each year. Their mission is to give all children the chance to read and succeed.

“There is an urgent need for literacy programming for our young learners which has only been exacerbated by learning and opportunity loss due to the pandemic,” said Natalia Hoffman, Program Officer at Make Way for Books. Stone Canyon Community Foundation’s support has allowed us to innovate and adapt our early literacy programming to break down barriers and ensure our youngest children have the early literacy experiences that build a foundation for future reading and learning.

The services of Project Access, such as its educational programs as supported by the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, are delivered right in residents’ backyards, providing direct tools and opportunities to under-resourced individuals so they can stabilize and empower themselves and their households. This approach to service delivery embeds Project Access into the fabric of the community, allowing the non-profit to build trust with its residents while also eliminating significant service barriers like transportation, childcare, and cost.

“At Project Access we believe access to vital on-site health, education, employment services, and economic services for families, children, and seniors supports positive outcomes on multiple levels for community residents,” said Kristin Byrnes, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Project Access. “This generous commitment from the Stone Canyon Community Foundation Fund held at the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona will go a long way in helping us to fulfill our education mission throughout Tucson.”

San Miguel High School, a Lasallian, Catholic learning community, empowers youth from underserved families through the integration of Christian values, rigorous academics and practical work experience, educating the whole student for college, career and a fulfilling life.

Paloma Santiago, Vice President of Advancement at San Miguel High School, shared, “Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the Stone Canyon Community Foundation’s continued support of San Miguel High School and its college counseling department. Our goal is not only to assist our students in getting to college, but through college as well.”

STEP: Student Expedition Program seeks to educate and empower low-income Arizona high schoolers to enroll in and graduate from college.

Tracy Baynes, Founder and President of STEP: Expedition, shared, “Funding from the Stone Canyon Community Foundation will enable STEP to provide low-income Tucson students with the focused guidance and resources they need to access the educational opportunities they deserve.  Thanks to the generosity of donors like Stone Canyon Community Foundation, STEP is able put these motivated young scholars on a path to a college degree.”

Youth On Their Own (YOTO) is a dropout prevention program that supports the high school graduation and continued success of youth experiencing homelessness in Pima County.

Elizabeth Slater, YOTO CEO, shared, “We are so grateful to the Stone Canyon Community Foundation for again investing in our community’s students experiencing homelessness and supporting them on their quest to graduate high school. This funding will provide crucial direct support to ensure their basic needs are met, so they can stay focused on staying in school. SCCF’s impact will be felt for years to come and support hundreds of youths in 2022!”

SARSEF focuses on engaging student populations underrepresented in the fields of STEM, and prioritize creating opportunity in schools in areas of poverty (as defined by Title I designations).

Julie Euber, CEO of SARSEF shared, “We are incredibly grateful to have been awarded a grant from the Stone Canyon Community Foundation. This gift will open the door to more curiosity, exploration and discovery within the classroom and impact students and educators across Arizona, supporting our ‘What Do We Wonder’ program that provides workshops at PreK-12 learning communities. During the program, teachers receive individual coaching and mentoring as well, learning how to integrate STEM learning into other subject areas. SARSEF is offering a second session to provide even greater flexibility for teachers this year. Now more than ever, STEM education is vital. Future-readiness requires students who can connect learning across disciplines to understand and solve real-world problems.”

Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF) creates opportunities to build self-esteem and empower children and youth in foster care by funding services to enrich their life experiences and ensure their successful transition to adulthood.

Kris Jacober, Executive Director of AFFCF, shared, “Children in foster care are often challenged to overcome huge educational barriers – they move schools, they lose credits, they may not have the tools and technology they need.  They have a difficult time keeping up with their peers.  Funding from the Stone Canyon Community Foundation ensures that children in foster care in Pima County have the education tools and support they need to excel in school.”  

Junior Achievement of Arizona prepares millions of Arizona students to succeed in work and life. They’re empowering their futures by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to manage their money, plan for their future, and make smart academic, career and economic choices.

Maggie Jones, Development Officer of Junior Achievement of Arizona, shared, “Stone Canyon Community Foundation’s investment in Junior Achievement kids will bring JA’s lifechanging program to over 400 students like those a Pueblo High School. These kids will learn the work readiness and financial literacy skills they need to succeed in work and life through hands-on activities practicing money management and exploring their future careers. They will have a volunteer mentor from our community every step of the way. The long-term impact of this funding will be more underserved students receiving opportunities, graduating high school, and leading successful fulfilling lives in our community.”

Interfaith Community Services programs enable seniors and people with disabilities to stay safe and independent in their homes. They also assist individuals and families facing food hardship, job loss and financial crisis regain stability and gather the resources to move forward to self-sufficiency.

Tom McKinney, CEO of Interfaith Community Services, shared, “A key part of helping people break the cycle of poverty is a holistic two-generation approach to supporting the family unit by laying a pathway to support self-sufficiency. With this grant from the Stone Canyon Community Foundation, Interfaith Community Services (ICS) has been given resources to provide a path of an enrichment support for children that will allow them to break through some of the barriers created by poverty. From funding early childhood education and academic support, to providing the resources for children to participate in musical lessons and sports, this grant will play a vital role in supporting families on their paths to self-sufficiency.”

The Painted Sky Thunderbird Resource Center provides tutoring to students who need one-to-one support.

Amy Watson, TRC Coordinator, said, “The funding that we have received for the Painted Sky Thunderbird Resource Center will allow us to continue tutoring services for our kindergarten through fifth grade students.  Our program plays an important role in supporting our students who need one-on-one instruction to practice skills in reading, writing and math.  We are very grateful for the support from Stone Canyon Community Foundation.”