In the 1990’s, several VIP initiatives created safer neighborhoods and better schools for our children. VIP institutions organized within the Roosevelt, Murphy & Creighton School Districts to create safer neighborhoods and greater student achievement. This work continues today, in the Creighton and Dysart districts.
VIP convinced the city of Phoenix to provide $2.7 million for after-school programs throughout the city. We tackled gang violence by getting the City of Phoenix to approve Drug Free Crime Free School Zones, with increased community patrols and resource officers.
South Phoenix leaders organized to convince the City of Phoenix to allocate $1.6 million to build the El Reposo Multi-Generational Center in South Phoenix.
And although a long-standing land dispute had prevented the Las Brisas community from having a local school, in 2007 El Mirage and Santa Teresita leaders organized parents to support the building of the Riverview School.
Today, Arizona children face multiple challenges:
- Nearly half (45%) of Arizona children live in low-income families.
- In 2010, the legislature eliminated $72 million from children’s health services, freezing enrollment in the KidsCare program for children whose families earn below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. One hundred children are turned away every day from KidsCare.
- By most accounts Arizona ranks last, or near last, in per pupil spending. Budget cuts have resulted in larger classrooms sizes and eliminated all day kindergarten, forcing school districts to reduce or even eliminate things like school counselors, librarians, nurses, and classes for art and music.
- Today, 45 percent of Arizona high school graduates do not pursue any higher education, the lowest rate in the country.
VIP realizes that there will be no quick fix to a situation that has been in the making for over 30 years. The approach lies in patient organizing to rebuild institutions and to identify a new generation of leaders who understand the importance of investing in those who will inherit the state: our children. To this end:
- VIP leaders form action strategy teams around target issues of Education, Healthcare, Work, and Immigration as a means to affect more just and inclusive policies at local and state levels, ensuring the success and well being of the next generation.
- The VIP Alliance School Leadership Initiative trains parents in the skills of civic literacy and community engagement. By increasing the parents’ leadership skills and capacity for civic involvement, the program will improve educational opportunities for their students.