Season for Sharing: Annual campaign raises nearly $1.8 million for 164 Arizona nonprofits

The Welcome to America Project is one of the many organizations across the Valley providing extra support to refugee families as they navigate their post-COVID-19 lives.
The Welcome to America Project is one of the many organizations across the Valley providing extra support to refugee families as they navigate their post-COVID-19 lives.

Arizona nonprofits are sharing nearly $1.8 million raised during the 2021 Season for Sharing campaign.

Grants ranging from $7,500 to $40,000 are being distributed to 164 nonprofits that support teachers and students, aid older adults and help struggling families. The funds were donated by subscribers and readers of The Arizona Republic/, by the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and others during the holiday season.

Since it began in 1993, Season for Sharing has raised and given away almost $72 million to Arizona nonprofits. Because The Republic pays administrative and promotional costs, 100% of donations goes back to the community.

"Arizonans' generosity and caring cannot be overstated," said Republic executive editor Greg Burton. "So many people are struggling with housing issues, food issues and general economic pressures. The work that these nonprofits do to help our neighbors in need is vital."

A theme among this year's 250-plus grant applicants was the need for ongoing relief from COVID-19 related fallout. Food and housing insecurity remain an issue. New asks came from organizations that help refugees from Afghanistan and other war-torn areas. Tempe-based Welcome to America will use a $7,500 grant to support more than 1,500 refugee families with emergency needs, for instance.

The majority of grantees are located in Maricopa County, but nonprofits in Pinal County, Parker, Flagstaff, Payson and Sedona also benefit.

The largest grant — $40,000 — went to Arizona Food Bank Network again this year. The network is a coalition of food banks that feeds more than 450,000 people statewide.

Grant recipients: Read the full list of grantees here.

The Republic has dubbed Thursday, March 24, as Thank You Thursday, a day to recognize donors and honor the work of the nonprofit community. Grant recipients will celebrate on social media with the hashtag #SFS2021. Follow along at

Help for struggling children and families

Helping Hands for Single Moms founder Chris Coffman has seen what a college degree can do for families trying to break the cycle of poverty. The women that his group serves have become role models for their children, inspiring them to pursue higher education.

A $10,000 Season for Sharing grant will help the Central Phoenix-based group provide 100 scholarships for nursing students.

"We are honored that Season for Sharing would choose to invest in the single mom college student families we are assisting," Coffman said.

Services provided by A New Leaf help individuals who find themselves in domestic or sexually violent situations. A $30,000 Season for Sharing grant will help fund a crisis hotline for Maricopa County that took 11,000 calls last year.

Those who need help are provided with immediate assistance finding safe shelter and transportation. Legal resources are provided to assist victims in navigating the courts.

A New Leaf is headquartered south of downtown Phoenix and, like other nonprofits, depends on grants, individual donations and other gifts to be able to pay for the service.

Grants from Season for Sharing and others are "literally the difference between being able to operate a program or not; and being able to provide safety for someone and not," said the group's Laura Bode.

Helping plug education gaps for children, adults

Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County, helps nearly 700 adults a year learn English and attend basic education classes. A $10,000 Season for Sharing grant will help the Sunnyslope-based organization cover costs for a virtual pivot. The need didn't subside during the pandemic.

Executive director Jesus Love said their programs serve English-language learners who arrived to the U.S. from all over the world including, refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq and Cuba. The group also focuses on individuals that immigrated to America recently or years ago that desire to learn or better their English skills.

“We are very grateful to all the donors," Love said. "This grant will help us to strengthen the delivery of free educational services to adult learners in a hybrid flexible environment ... Flexibility is key to the success of adult learners.”

At Valley Youth Theatre, a $7,500 grant will help grow an arts and literacy program for about 300 young students from low-income school districts.

Participants learn reading and comprehension skills with the pairing of children's books with live performances. Patrice Karst's book "The Invisible String" together with the play "Dear 2020," for instance, promotes themes of human connection, resiliency and the notion that “we are all in this together.”

Coming to the aid of older Arizonans

A $7,500 grant to Ballet Arizona supports dance classes for older adults diagnosed with Parkinson's and who have balance issues. It will allow the classes to be offered at no cost to the participants and their caregivers and family members.

Dance instructor Debbie Braganza said the dance classes provide therapeutic health benefits.

"These people have so many medical expenses. Anyone with a movement disorder can participate in the class even those with limited movement," Braganza said.

Older adults with Parkinson's and movement issues take dance classes at Ballet Arizona.
Older adults with Parkinson's and movement issues take dance classes at Ballet Arizona.

Other grants helping older adults include $7,500 for the Southwest Center's program to provide wellness visits for more than 7,200 LGBT people, people of color and others affected by HIV/AIDS. Still others to Surprise's Benevilla ($10,000) and Phoenix's Duet: Partners in Health and Aging ($15,000) provide grocery shopping, wellness visits, transportation to healthcare and other appointments and even handyman services.

Roxanne De La Rosa covers the nonprofit community. Reach her at Donations to Season for Sharing are accepted year-round at or by texting "SHARING" to 91-999.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: $1.8M in Season for Sharing grants help older adults, families, students