The pandemic has been especially hard on our local nonprofits: At the same time that demand spiked for many of their services, they lost many of their traditional fundraising opportunities, such as luncheons, house parties and other gatherings.
As 2021 draws to a close, Tucson Local Media has assembled this special focus on local nonprofits. Managing editor Jeff Gardner looks at Lead Guitar, an organization that helps with guitar instruction in schools. While the nonprofit launched in Tucson, it has now spread out across the country. Staff reporter Alexandra Pere shares details about how Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse is changing up their shelter model and how you can help, while Community Foundation of Southern Arizona President and CEO Jenny Flynn explains how your gift to local nonprofits can help you out at tax time. We also have a list of local nonprofits you might consider supporting at the end of the year. If you’re in a position to help out, please consider aiding one of these organizations or another that is close to your heart.
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Part food bank, part community developers, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona works to eliminate hunger, as well as its underlying causes, because they understand food “is just the beginning” of a healthy community. In addition to providing food, they also bring nutrition to the community with gardening workshops, education to low-income schools, and even culinary training. Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona works with a network of volunteers and partnerships throughout Tucson, and was selected as Feeding America’s 2018 Food Bank of the Year. communityfoodbank.org
Primavera Foundation. The Primavera Foundation’s mission is to help homeless and under-employed Southern Arizonans break free of the cycle of poverty. Their work involves affordable housing drives, as well as courses on financial and homebuyer education. The foundation, formed in 1983, helps 8,000 people annually in the greater Tucson area, through sheltering, work employment services, veteran support, rental and utility assistance, and neighborhood revitalization. One of our favorite programs is Primavera Works, which allows local residents and businesses to hire workers for a variety of labor, such as landscaping, housekeeping, moving, retail and more. primavera.org.
Make Way for Books. “A book is a dream you hold in your hands,” author Neil Gaiman once wrote. Make Way for Books supports those dreams by breaking down barriers between children and literacy. Focusing on early childhood education, Make Way for Books impacts the lives of 30,000 kids, families, and educators throughout southern Arizona. Their programs include preschool reading initiatives, a bilingual reading app, book “fiestas,” and placing books in community areas like waiting rooms throughout Tucson. They also provide resources to educators, such as curriculum and literacy guides, as well as books. makewayforbooks.org
Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona. For more than 50 years, Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona has been delivering critical meals to our community’s elderly, disabled, and others facing tough medical situations. Their work includes a variety of specialties for those with unique health needs, including allergies, diabetics, vegetarians, diets with low sodium and renal support and more. In a time of isolation, deliveries from their network of more than 200 volunteers can provide more than food, it can provide human connection and support. Mobile Meals of Southern Arizona accepts donations and sponsorships, but can always use additional volunteer drivers to support their cause. Mobilemealssoaz.org
SARSEF. What started as a science fair is now one of the largest Arizona nonprofits dedicated to fostering scientific passion and education. The Southern Arizona Research, Science and Engineering Foundation engages students in STEM education, leading to confidence, critical thinking, curiosity and meaningful career paths. The nonprofit prioritizes creating opportunity in schools in areas of poverty, bringing students to solutions and solutions to students. Their largest annual event, the SARSEF Regional Science and Engineering Fair, draws more than 2,000 student science projects to compete for more than $100,000 in prizes, trips and scholarships. SARSEF.org
Fox Theatre Foundation. The nonprofit that supports the “crown jewel” of downtown Tucson, the Fox Theatre Foundation, provides much more than entertainment. With a variety of music, movies and community events, the Fox is a major player in downtown’s revitalization. Their support of the local arts embodies their belief that “gathering together in shared experience is an essential function of our interdependence as members of a community.” We all know how 2020 impacted the performing arts and touring world, which means the Fox can certainly use your support, as can many other venues throughout town. foxtucson.com
Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Southern Arizona. Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Southern Arizona offers counseling and community services to people of all faiths and beliefs, and all economic backgrounds, regardless of their ability to pay. Their programs reach across a variety of life events, including counseling for trauma, cancer support, domestic abuse services, elder access, medical equipment donations, and emergency financial assistance. Perhaps most importantly, their supportive community programs are available to Southern Arizonans of all ages, because grief, trauma and depression can affect anyone and everyone differently. JFCS of Southern Arizona strives to build a community “in which all families and individuals are empowered, self-sufficient, and capable of overcoming challenges.” jfcstucson.org
ZUZI! Dance. This unique nonprofit organizes healing and personal expression for people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities through movement-based art. Through classes, workshops, and performances, ZUZI aims to inspire and connect the community. Their work ranges everywhere from trapeze to improvisation to yoga, ensuring participants get both exercise and relaxation. Though based around dance, ZUZI ensures their nonprofit is focused on accessibility and community. As they put it, “If you want to dance, we will make it happen.” zuzimoveit.org
Interfaith Community Services. One of the most multifaceted nonprofits in Southern Arizona, Interfaith Community Services was formed in 1985 with the idea that volunteers and congregations of diverse faiths should work together to better their community. Interfaith Community Services supports in-need Tucsonans with everything from mobile meals to health education to workforce development. Whether it’s emergency assistance, self-sufficiency programs or community outreach, this nonprofit makes for a better community. More than 14% of Arizona families live in poverty, and Interfaith Community Services supports more than 40,000 every year. Although they have many programs, Interfaith Community Services captures them all with a single mission: to help people in need achieve stable, healthy, and independent lives. icstucson.org
Child & Family Resources. This private and community-based nonprofit has supported Tucson’s at-risk children and families for more than 50 years. Originally known as the Tucson Association for Child Care, Child & Family Resources provides everything from new-parent education to youth substance abuse prevention to a child care food program, where child care providers can receive extra money for nutritious meals and snacks. And Child & Family Resources’ programs aren’t just for the present, either. The professional development program Project Best ranges from individualized coaching to center-based and family childcare providers, focusing on meeting the fundamental needs of infants and toddlers to get them the best possible start. childfamilyresources.org