Science Foundation Arizona
Science Foundation Arizona, founded in 2006, is one of the most forward thinking initiatives undertaken in our state in many years. SFAz's original mission was to help build a more diversified, science-and technology-based economy in Arizona through investment in research specifically aimed at yielding new products, new companies, and new well paying jobs in Arizona. Funded initially by the State, by the Arizona philanthropic community, and the private sector, Science Foundation Arizona has to date issued 105 research grants totaling $68 million. These efforts have resulted in the creation of 1865 new Arizona jobs and the formation of 24 new technology companies.
Science Foundation Arizona has its origins in the Arizona business community. Greater Phoenix Leadership – an organization of Valley CEOs and business executives – studied economies around the world looking for a model that would enable Arizona to get beyond its current heavy dependence on tourism and construction. They conceived Science Foundation Arizona patterned after a similar organization that transformed the economy of Ireland. Flagstaff Forty and a similar organization in Tucson, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council (SALC), joined Greater Phoenix Leadership in pledging to cover the entire operations cost of Science Foundation Arizona for a period of 5 years. This commitment was subsequently extended to 7 years. Because of this support from GPL, SALC, and Flagstaff Forty, ALL State and philanthropic dollars received by SFAz for research investments have gone directly to support research.
In addition to its technology transfer and economic development activities, SFAz was asked early on by Governor Napolitano to lead the state’s efforts in K-12 STEM education. This assignment has been continued by Governor Brewer. Educational activities within the foundation have grown substantially, with funding coming from state government, corporations, private foundations, and individual donors. To date, 61 education grants totaling nearly $38 million have been issued. Currently, Science Foundation Arizona is pursuing a multimillion-dollar effort to help rural schools substantially improve the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math.