Valley nonprofits doing more with less to support students heading back to school

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Posted at 3:44 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 16:29:10-04

A big week in the state of education.

Tens of thousands of students are heading back to class but they are not the only ones getting back to work.

Some nonprofits that support education are also preparing for a new school year while doing much more with less.

For Junior Achievement of Arizona, the best days are often the busiest, with volunteers and students from all over the state packing classrooms, special events and their so-called "BizTown."

"In short, we prepare students, kindergarten through 12th grade, to succeed in work and in life," said Anne Landers, JA's vice president of strategic initiatives.

That mission has been increasingly difficult since March of 2020.

"With schools being out, with education being in kind of an upheaval for some time, we had to figure out how we do it differently," said Landers.

The organization took all its programming online, teaching virtually about finances, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship. All while dealing with a 50% reduction in funding.

"A lot of that was due to the redirection of corporate funding and also maybe the reduction of special event revenues, people couldn't attend events in person," said Landers.

Junior Achievement is not alone. A survey from the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits in February shows more than 400 nonprofits reported a total revenue loss of more than $91 million, a 52% drop in year-end giving and an increase of more than $15 million in expenses.

This year, JA plans to resume in-person programming at all 400 of its school sites while keeping virtual options too.

While they do need more volunteers and donations, Landers feels the demand for their services is higher than ever.

"There’s going to be a myriad of needs for these students as they go into the school year and it’s really critical that we help them imagine what’s possible for their future and give them the skills they need to be able to step into that possibility," said Landers.

ABC15 spoke with a few other Valley nonprofits focused on education. They say they are not dealing with drastic reductions, mostly because they do not rely on donations or corporate partnerships for the bulk of their funding.

Junior Achievement will hold its first public fundraising event since the pandemic started in September. They also have free online programming that families and students can download right now.

Click here for more information.