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Gruneberg: Arizona families have significant new opportunity for educating children

Photo of Arizona resident Janice Gruneberg
Janice Grunenberg
By Janice Gruneberg | Point of View

As an Arizona resident and a mother, I want access to the best possible educational options available for my children and for their specific educational needs.

And as an educator who oversees public and private schools in Arizona — including the new Grand Canyon Private Academy — I know how important it is to be able to teach in a way that creates the best opportunity for success for each child.

The thought of a private-school education may have seemed an unattainable goal for many Arizona families. But recently, a new program began that reduces financial barriers to private-school education — regardless of family income.

It’s called the Empowerment Scholarship Account, or ESA, and it is a powerful new tool for families that want to explore new educational opportunities for their children.

Here’s how they work:

ESAs provide scholarship dollars to Arizona families to help them pursue more options for their children’s learning. Funding through the ESA allows families to expand their educational choices outside of the public school system and customize their educational experiences. These ESAs cover education expenses including private school tuition, tutoring services, learning materials and more.

These scholarship dollars can contribute to or even fully cover the cost of private school tuition. As an example, the ESA fully covers full-time tuition, including all materials, at Grand Canyon Private Academy — meaning Arizona students can receive a private education 100% tuition-free. Arizona’s ESA provides approximately $7,000 per student, no matter how much money a family makes.

The ESA also provides additional scholarship dollars for students with special needs starting as early as their pre-K years, so that families can work to customize their child’s education based on their specific needs and challenges. Supporting the academic growth and specific needs of students with special education is a specialty of Grand Canyon Private Academy. In fact, over one-third of the students currently attending Grand Canyon Private Academy have special needs and are thriving.

ESA applications are accepted year-round, so parents can start taking advantage of these funds in a timely manner. Funds are distributed each quarter, with funding beginning the quarter that the ESA contract is signed by parents.

It may seem like it’s too good to be true, but it isn’t — ESAs are rapidly becoming an important tool for families to find the right education for their children. Since the program began this past summer, more than 12,000 students have become part of the program statewide.

Parents seeking more information on the ESA program can visit AZ Empowerment Scholarship for a full breakdown of how they can take advantage of this opportunity for their children.

At a time when many students are recovering from the effects of the pandemic and learning loss, ESAs give Arizona families a new way to find the educational experience that best positions their children for success in the future. As a parent and an educator, I encourage all Arizona families to take advantage of this incredible opportunity if it is the right fit for their child.

Editor’s note: Ms. Gruneberg is senior vice president & superintendent of schools at K12, Inc.

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