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Sunnyside Foundation




  • Begun 22 years ago by Sunnyside High graduates who subsequently graduated from the University of Arizona and became very prominent Tucsonans.
  • They believed then, that the budgets were draconian and these particular students needed a level playing field, and the resources to become successful, productive citizens.

Our purpose is to provide funding to students in the district via money made available directly to individual teachers and schools to enhance and enrich students’ education experience.  Due to the current economic crisis in Arizona that continues, as well as the limited amount of money available throughout SUSD, funds provided by the Foundation are critical for the district to implement valuable programs that provide students with the academic resources necessary for success in the 21st century.  We aim to meet the deficiencies and needs of the school district by improving instruction and opportunity in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programming, student and family literacy projects, the Digital Advantage and Digital Curriculum initiatives (providing students with laptops and computer skills knowledge), arts and cultural programming, and support for post-secondary education opportunities. Projects and programs can include a combination of extracurricular, scholastic, artistic, and athletic components as designed by the schools or teachers receiving funding through the Sunnyside Foundation. Over the past 18 years the Foundation has brought over $600K to the district through various programs and projects.

Pertinent SUSD Statistics: 

  • Funding was reduced by 86.6% annually since 2013 school year (reductions of more than $8.9M and counting) which continued last year with the defeat of district budget over-rides, and the continued fragility of our state’s economic rebound.
  • 86% of SUSD’s 17,000 plus students are considered economically disadvantaged and qualify for federally subsidized free breakfast and lunch programs.
  • A third of our students are considered ‘homeless’
  • 94% of SUSD students identify as minorities.
  • 4.1% of SUSD students identify as Native American and tribes represented within the district include Tohono O’odham, Apache, Cherokee, Hope, Navajo, Pima, Pueblo, Saponi, Sioux and Yaqui. 
  • ​49% of SUSD’s elementary students speak English as a second language

Our goal is to increase the amount available to fund the many worthwhile grant requests we receive even in current economic conditions. We are constantly seeking additional and new sources of funding to support classroom and teacher focused projects and programs. Grants are awarded up to a $1,000 maximum per request if the Grant will be to the benefit of only one school or group of students. Grants of up to $2,500 maximum are awarded if the Grant will be to the benefit of multiple schools, organizations or the entire SUSD community.


The Sunnyside Foundation in correlation with district goals and vision and board approval will move to the three Excellence in Education categories as described below:

Excellence in Education grants are awarded in the following strategic curriculum areas:

  • Fine Arts & Music
    • Parameters within this category can include:
      • Extra-Curricular Activities
      • Field Trips
      • Artist in Residence Visits (for example) or Subject Matter Expert Presentations
  • Literacy  Projects & Programs (with emphasis on Pre-K through 3rd grade programs & support)
    • Parameters within this category can include:
      • Books and supportive reading material to enhance literacy curriculum
      • Extra-Curricular Activities
      • Field Trips
      • Subject Matter Expert Presentations
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
    • Parameters within the STEM category can include:
      • Extra-Curricular Activities
      • Field Trips
      • STEM Programs conducted within class time
      • STEM Competitions
      • Subject Matter Expert Presentations

One of the Foundation’s newest programs, ‘Back to Basics’ is designed to be used in the often changing classroom or home environment when needs arise that are unplanned and not budgeted.  Flexibility is the key and Back to Basics grants have a $250 per grant maximum with a 48 hour turn around decision target. When a child needs an eye exam and glasses because their classroom experience is painful and their grades are suffering or when a child lacks a pair of athletic shoes to participate in intramural athletic programs are good examples of this program will make a difference.  We all are aware of the benefits of team participation; discipline, learning to be a team player, developing that ‘fire in the belly’ competitiveness that creates the desire for success in life. 

Thank You for your support of education in our community!

To more ways to get involved with the foundation please contact:
Kerri Lopez-Howell, Executive Director Sunnyside Foundation

The Sunnyside Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is to promote educational excellence by providing resources to support work which enriches the education, development and well being of all Sunnyside Unified School District children.