Learning Community Initiative
Contact: Email contact form
2238 E. Ginter RdTucson, AZ 85706
United States32° 8' 15.7164" N, 110° 56' 15.8604" W
SUSD is one of five “learning communities” in ethnically diverse sites around the nation, in an initiative sponsored by the Learning Communities Coalition. The mission of the Learning Community Initiative is to increase the number of students who graduate from high school and pursue a postsecondary education, while creating a community culture of lifelong learning in which everyone values and actively supports education.
Scholarship America and USA Funds, the major sponsors of the Learning Communities Coalition, have partnered with the Sunnyside District’s Learning Community Initiative to offer our students and families a variety of programs and activities related to preparing for college. Some of the programs offered by Sunnyside District schools that help students and parents get a head start on college include ParentShop, ScholarShop, Unlock the Future and the Turning Dreams into Plans guidebook.
The Sunnyside School District Alumni Association’s Dollars for Scholars program is an active component of the Learning Community Initiative. This program supports graduating seniors by investing in their postsecondary education through scholarships. Individuals and business partners sponsor designated scholarships, all of which students may apply for through a common application. Sunnyside District employees are encouraged to give $1 per paycheck to support general Dollars for Scholars scholarships. In four years, the Sunnyside Dollars for Scholars program has awarded more than $250,000 in scholarships. Because of its success, Sunnyside Dollars for Scholars was awarded an unsolicited grant of $100,000 in 2008 from USA Funds.
The Learning Community Initiative has also been an integral part of Project Graduation: The Digital Advantage. Through this program, students earn their own laptop computers by achieving goals in the 4 A’s: Academics, Attendance, School Activity and Attitude. The purpose of The Digital Advantage is to change the culture and behavior of students in regard to academics and attendance. Sunnyside has achieved great success with The Digital Advantage and more than 840 high school students have met the criteria and earned their laptop computers in the first year alone.
The Learning Community Leaders is a group composed of the different stakeholders of the Sunnyside district including students, parents, teachers, community members, representatives of postsecondary institutions and business representatives. The group meets every other month to identify current issues facing the district and works to identify resources from the members of the group to address those issues. Biweekly e-mails are sent to keep Learning Community Leaders informed about Sunnyside District news and information between meetings. Major community engagement events were conceived and developed in the Learning Communities Leaders meetings: all SUSD schools participate in Make A Difference Day and in the World Carnival. In its first year, Sunnyside’s Make A Difference Day was featured in the national USA Weekend publication.
Because of the success of the Learning Community Initiative in the Sunnyside District and because of the partnerships with Pima Community College and the University of Arizona, Scholarship America has selected Tucson as the first site in the nation to pilot a new program called the Four G’s. This represents a philosophy regarding college of Get Ready, Get In, Get Through and Give Back.