Governor Ducey Invests Dollars To Support Arizona Boys & Girls Clubs and Transportation Solutions

The Arizona Alliance for Boys & Girls Clubs is honored to receive a new $1 million investment in the social and emotional health programs that we offer to students around the State.  Together, Arizona Clubs serve more than 110,000 youth in rural, urban and suburban communities; and, our members have struggled throughout the pandemic.  Thanks to early investments from Governor Doug Ducey and the State of Arizona, tens of thousands of youth were able to access summer programs to help them stay on track with their academics and access SEL (Social Emotional Learning) modules under the care of trained Youth Development Professionals in Clubs.

Governor Ducey’s $1 million investment will support a one-year program that will provide up to 5,000 kids and teens with critical life and social-emotional skills training. The Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs will use the funding to support salaries of critical personnel, develop curricula, provide equipment such as computers and tablets, and more. We are grateful for the continued partnership and recognition of the effectiveness of these programs.

One of the key challenges facing schools and Boys & Girls Clubs around the State is transportation to Clubs.  Today, A for Arizona awarded schools and districts around the State with grants from their Arizona Transportation Modernization Grant Program, a $20 million initiative to modernize K-12 transportation options and improve access to reliable and safe transportation for students. 

Boys & Girls of Bisbee received a grant for $200,000 to purchase busses and vans to transport students; Vista College Prep was awarded $1 million to build a new collaborative and reliable transportation option with BGCAZ; and Avondale Elementary School District was awarded $150,000 to help connect their students to after school programs including Clubs. We are grateful to the team at A for Arizona for their recognition of these challenges and their investment in innovative solutions to help connect students to programs they need.

Arizona Transportation Modernization Grants | Awardee Snapshots (PDF)

November 8, 2021  |  |  | Governor Ducey Invests $1 Million To Support Arizona Boys & Girls Clubs  |  |  | Program Will Help Kids Recover From Social And Emotional Impacts Of COVID-19 Pandemic  |  |  | PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced $1 million in federal funding to support the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs in its efforts to help kids recover from the social and emotional implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re working around the clock to get our kids caught up, but learning loss is just the beginning of the challenges they face,” said Governor Ducey. “Our kids also suffered socially and emotionally from being away from their classrooms, teachers and friends. Arizona’s kids missed out on a year of spending recess on a playground, participating in sports, learning how to engage with others and far too much more. Our Boys & Girls Clubs were critical in giving our kids a safe place to play and learn during the pandemic, and they will continue to be as we emerge from it. We’re dedicated to supporting Arizona’s Boys & Girls Clubs in their efforts to help our kids fully recover from a year as tough as last.”

Governor Ducey’s $1 million investment will support a one-year program that will provide up to 5,000 kids and teens with critical life and social-emotional skills training. The Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs will use the funding to support salaries of critical personnel, develop curricula, provide equipment such as computers and tablets, and more.

In this program, the Boys & Girls Clubs will use the Positive Action curriculum, which is designed to help youth address trauma, anxiety, depression, self-harm and more. They will also use a training called SMART (Skills Mastery and Resilience Training) Moves, which helps kids build social-emotional skills of self-regulation, impulse control and stress management. The Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs plans to deploy the program statewide using local clubs and youth development professionals.

“Our kids have been through so much, and we should do everything in our power to get them back on track,” said Josh Stine, Director of the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. “This investment will help us improve our kids’ emotional and mental wellness after all the devastation of last year. On behalf of all the Boys & Girls Clubs in Arizona, I want to thank Governor Ducey for helping us in our mission to give Arizona’s kids a better future.”

A March 2021 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared the activity of kids who learned virtually during the pandemic to kids who received in-person instruction. The study found that more parents whose kids learned virtually reported that their children experienced decreases in physical activity, time spent outside, in-person and virtual time with friends, and worsened mental or emotional health.

Local journalists have written in detail about the impact the pandemic has had on Arizona kids’ social and emotional wellness. One report points to a survey which found that over a third of kids aged 13–17 need emotional support. Another outlines a heightened increase in anxiety among Arizona’s Hispanic kids.

Governor Ducey and the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs partnered early on in the pandemic to ensure kids received the support and care they needed. In March 2020, Governor Ducey and the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs announced emergency operational funding to support youth impacted by COVID-19 school closures. The partnership enabled state funding to compensate Boys & Girls Clubs to provide expanded services to Arizona families. Through this partnership, Boys & Girls Clubs in Arizona extended youth development program hours to accommodate youth members and children of health care workers, public safety professionals and those from other essential industries impacted by school closures.

In May 2020, Governor Ducey allocated $500,000 to organizations like the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs that provide out-of-school child care in the state. The funding supported extended hours and enrichment programs to meet the increased demand of child care for families while students learned virtually and parents or guardians worked.

In April 2021, Governor Ducey invested $5 million to fund summer programs held by Arizona Boys & Girls Clubs. The funding covered scholarships to serve 4,000 youth per week for eight weeks, at locations all across Arizona.  |  |  | ###


Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Names Vakentae Cooks 2021 Arizona State Youth of the Year, Serenity Gordon Odai 2021 Arizona Military Youth of the Year

PHOENIX, AZ – Selected from a field of six candidates from Boys & Girls Clubs organizations around the state, Vakentae Cooks, from Phoenix’s I.G. Homes Branch, was named the 2021 Arizona State Youth of the Year. Serenity Gordon Odai, from Davis Monthan AFB Youth Programs, received the 2021 Arizona State Military Youth of the Year top honors.

The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 74th year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures. As the ArizonaYouth of the Year, Vakentae will serve as an ambassador for all teens in the State, will receive a $2,500 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and will go on to contend for the regional Youth of the Year and ultimately the national title.

Although Vakentae has only been a Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley Club member for two years, he has quickly become a positive leader and influencer among the other Club teens. He is the president of the Keystone Club and was a member of the Black Student Union at the Metropolitan Arts Institute. He’s currently a senior at Central High School.  He has also participated in Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley’s workforce development program, AZYouthforce, where he interned at Talking Stick Resort/Arena.  He was the first intern to be hired on as a Guest Relations Ambassador from the internship program. He plans to attend Prescott College and will work towards a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and psychology to become an English teacher and author. He hopes to use this career to assist young adults deal with often overlooked mental health issues by teaching them better comprehension skills and how to express themselves in written form.

Serenity has been a Club member for 11 years and has had a positive impact on her community. She’s a member of Torch Club, Keystone, Smart Girls and Teen Council.  She’s been a teen ambassador, tutor and served in many volunteer roles in her Clubs.  She plans to graduate and attend Grand Canyon University to study Zoology.  

“We are incredibly proud of Vakentae and all the Youth of the Year nominees,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “Being named Youth of the Year is a lifelong honor. As the Arizona’s Youth of the Year, Vakentae will serve as a spokesperson for Boys & Girls Club kids and teens across the state who need more role models that they can admire and emulate.”

This summer, Vakentae and Serenity will join other state winners to vie for the Southwest Region regional title. If named the regional winner, he will be awarded an additional $20,000 college scholarship. Six youth, including five regional winners and a military youth winner, will advance to the virtual National Youth of the Year event in October 2021 to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $50,000 and a brand-new Toyota Corolla.

Arizona State Youth of the Year judges:
  • Matt Gress
    • Director at the Arizona Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting
  • The Honorable Lea Márquez Peterson, MBA
    • Chairwoman, Arizona Corporation Commission and President, Márquez Peterson Group, LLC
  • Brenda Puga
    • Community Relations Coordinator, Fiesta Bowl Charities
  • Jacob Lounsbury
    • Director of Global Partnerships, SciTech Institute
  • Dr. Jeremy Babendure
    • Executive Director, SciTech Institute
    • Associate Research Professor, ASU School for Future of Innovation in Society
    • Senior Fellow, Institute for Learning Innovation

For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit

About Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs: 

There are 60+ Boys & Girls Clubs Sites in Arizona.  Boys & Girls Clubs can be found in urban, suburban, and rural communities across Arizona, and military bases throughout the State.

Clubs employ more than 890 dedicated staff serving 112,883 youth.  67% of our members are ages 12 and younger, 62% represent minority races or ethnicities, and one-third live in single-parent households. Clubs work to create equity and opportunity for youth through programs that create pathways to academic, career and workforce opportunities and achievement. Clubs help young people make healthy decisions and focus on social and emotional development to build resilient young adults. Most importantly, Clubs work to develop strong character and leadership skills by creating positive connections to caring adults.

About Youth of the Year. 

Founded in 1947 as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club. The Youth of the Year program is supported by Toyota and Mondelēz. As the Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, Toyota is committed to partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to ensure local Clubs provide life-enhancing opportunities for kids and teens to explore, develop and apply the essential skills they need to be successful in life and work. As the Lead Sponsor of Youth of the Year, Mondelēz International, will engage with local Clubs year-round to help foster a new generation of leaders prepared to live in and lead a diverse global economy. Youth of the Year representatives are the workforce leaders, innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow.

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Fiesta Bowl Charities Donates $1 Million In State-Wide Emergency Relief Funding to Arizona Communities

18 Arizona Nonprofits With Focus on Food Services and Youth Programming to Receive Emergency Relief

SCOTTSDALE, AZ – With the severe demands in Arizona due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fiesta Bowl Charities is helping communities across the state meet their incredible needs. The Fiesta Bowl is providing $1 million to fill gaps for food services and youth programming that are nonprofits’ biggest shortfalls. 

Fiesta Bowl Charities is extending direct funding to 18 nonprofit organizations on the front lines struggling to match the emergent needs. These organizations serve throughout the state – in the Phoenix metro, plus Tucson, Nogales, southern Arizona, Casa Grande, Prescott, Flagstaff, Navajo Nation.

The $1 million will be utilized by those in food services (A New Leaf, Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels, Children’s Cancer Network, Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Desert Mission Food Bank, Maggie’s Place, Matthew’s Crossing, Homeward Bound, St. Mary’s Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul and UMOM) and youth programming (Boys and Girls Clubs of the Valley, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott and Tucson; Child Crisis Arizona and YMCA Valley of the Sun).

Quick facts about Fiesta Bowl Charities:

  • $3 million in charitable giving for 2019-20 season
  • $10 million in charitable giving over last four years
  • $15.5 million in charitable giving over last nine years

See full release