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30th Season for Sharing raises nearly $1.6M; Funds granted to over 160 nonprofits

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30th Season for Sharing raises nearly $1.6M; Funds granted to over 160 nonprofits


The 30th annual Season for Sharing campaign is officially a wrap, and every penny of the nearly $1.6 million donated by readers of The Arizona Republic has been granted to more than 160 nonprofits that serve Arizonans in need.

“For three decades, Season for Sharing has demonstrated how vital it is for Arizonans to help Arizonans,” said Greg Burton, executive editor of The Republic, azcentral.com and La Voz. “Because of the generosity of Arizona Republic readers and the dedication of scores of hard-working nonprofits, thousands of people will be nourished and sheltered and be able to obtain other critical support like health care and education.”

The Republic covers all administrative and promotional costs of Season for Sharing, meaning 100% of donations go to organizations helping people in Arizona communities.

The biggest grants from the 2023-24 Season for Sharing campaign went to groups that provide food and shelter.

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Central Arizona Shelter Services received a $30,000 grant to support families experiencing homelessness. Child Crisis Arizona, St. Mary’s Food Bank, and the Arizona Food Bank Network each received $25,000. In addition, The Salvation Army, UMOM and Chicanos Por La Causa each received $20,000.

List of nonprofits: Here are the Season for Sharing grantees for 2023-24

“Generous contributions through Season for Sharing allow CASS to improve client empowerment programs, provide essential shelter services, toiletries and hygiene items, and ultimately offer a hand up to so many in our community who need us,” said Whitney Thistle, Central Arizona Shelter Services’ chief development officer.

The Arizona Pet Project was among this year’s first-time Season for Sharing grant recipients. The nonprofit received $7,500 to help people keep their pets despite challenging circumstances, like the need to cover a costly vet bill when a household budget is already stretched to the max.

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“When people are facing difficult times, they’re making choices between themselves and their animals,” said CEO Leanna Taylor. “It really is about whole family care, and people consider their pets part of the family.”

Native American Fatherhood & Families Association, based in Mesa, is also a new Season for Sharing grantee. The nonprofit received $7,500 to support free parent education classes and workshops and family law and child support clinics.

Since 1993, Season for Sharing has raised more than $74 million to support nonprofits. Many groups that received Season for Sharing grants in the campaign’s first year were operating long before — and continue to serve Arizona communities.

The Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, for instance, has been offering training and building community since 1947. The Phoenix nonprofit received $7,500 from the 2023-24 Season for Sharing campaign to help maintain programs that enrich the lives of older adults.

“The reason why this population is underserved is because it’s hard to provide services and costly,” said Michelle Hargreaves, the nonprofit’s chief development officer. “The Season for Sharing grant helps us elevate our level of services for these older adults so that they can continue to participate and engage and have a full life.”

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Nonprofits help break down education barriers

Almost half of the 2023-24 Season for Sharing campaign donations were granted to groups that support young people. Many do so by providing educational opportunities.

Audubon Southwest, which received $7,500, is one of several Season for Sharing grantees that make field trips and other hands-on learning activities more accessible for students.

“These funds support our outdoor learning education programs, which connect students and families with science and nature right here in Phoenix,” said Katie Weeks, Audubon Southwest’s director of community education. “We offer free field trips and classroom visits to Title I schools that allow students to get outside and explore with birds, wildlife, rivers and more.”

Several Season for Sharing nonprofits, including the Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation, The Black Theatre Troupe, and Arizona Recreation Center for the Handicapped, have committed to using their grants to create spaces where young people can explore the arts and other extracurricular activities. All three of these groups received $7,500.

Other Season for Sharing grantees work to ensure kids have what they need to thrive in school. Back to School Clothing Drive, based in Phoenix, received $10,000 to help students from low-income households and students living in shelters or foster care.

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“Each summer, we give thousands of children new clothes, shoes, backpacks, school supplies, dental screenings and fluoride rinses, and books. We also put on a STEM camp for some of the older students where they can assemble a laptop they get to keep,” said Krissy Miskovsky, the nonprofit’s director of strategic initiatives. “We wouldn’t be able to meet the rising needs without the funding that we — and the nonprofits we partner with — get from Season for Sharing.”

Ensuring the well-being of Arizona’s older adults

About a quarter of this year’s Season for Sharing nonprofits work to improve the quality of life of older Arizonans.

Aunt Rita’s Foundation, based in Phoenix, is a first-time grantee. It received $7,500 for its regular gathering of people 50 and older living with HIV. The social and support group helps reduce isolation and promote community, according to the nonprofit.

Ballet Arizona and Scottsdale Arts will use their $7,500 Season for Sharing grants for tailored arts programming. Ballet Arizona offers dance classes through its Creative Aging program, which helps older adults express themselves creatively and improve strength and flexibility. The dance company also provides the Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program, which teaches people with the disease and their caregivers ways to manage physical and emotional symptoms. Scottsdale Arts offers Memory Lounge events — arts-oriented learning opportunities for adults with dementia and their careers. 

Most Season for Sharing nonprofits that work with older adults will use their grant funding to provide meals, housing and other supportive social services. Benevilla, based in Surprise, will use its $10,000 to help ensure older adults and people with disabilities in the West Valley have support that allows them to live independently.

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“The Benevilla Home Services program is much more than just picking up groceries or driving someone to the doctor,” said Sara Villanueva, Benevilla’s vice president of donor relations. “The positives of the relationships built between the members and their volunteers are truly invaluable.”

Reach the reporter at alexis.waiss@gannett.com.



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Arizona

Donald Trump pushes the panic button on abortion in Arizona

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Donald Trump pushes the panic button on abortion in Arizona



Opinion: It’s not surprising that Trump would pivot on abortion. Now he’s demanding that his most loyal supporters do a U-turn on their principles, too.

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On Monday, Donald Trump said he wouldn’t support a federal abortion ban, that it should be up to each state to decide where to draw the line.

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On Wednesday, Trump said our particular state — Arizona — “went too far” in returning to a 19th century near-total ban on abortions.

And on Friday, Trump abandoned his states’ rights spiel altogether.

He hit the panic button and called for an immediate repeal of Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban — the one that our GOP-run Legislature intentionally left on the books in early 2022 in the hope that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.

“The Governor and the Arizona Legislature must use HEART, COMMON SENSE and ACT IMMEDIATELY to remedy what has happened … ,” Trump said on Friday in a post on Truth Social. “Arizona Legislature, please act as fast as possible!”

Trump wants abortion hard-liners to change

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It’s not surprising that Trump would pivot on the unborn. He’s been on most every side of the abortion issue since 1999 when he pronounced himself pro-choice.

Now, however, he’s calling on his most loyal supporters to do a U-turn on their principles, too. This, to ensure that Arizona, a vital battleground state, doesn’t slip through his — or their — fingers.

That may be an easy call for someone like Kari Lake.

She’s been one of the state’s most ardent pro-life crusaders, yet this week she was calling for abortion to be reinstated before the ink was even dry on the Arizona Supreme Court ruling that revived the 1864 ban.

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Several vulnerable Republican legislators — Sens. Shawnna Bolick and T.J. Shope and Rep. Matt Gress — have joined the call for a repeal.

But how do you convince the hard right Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature to abandon their beliefs on such a fundamental level?

That’s not so easy for the Arizona Legislature

Or do they simply hope that Democrats will bail them out by reinstituting abortion for them?

We all saw what happened on Wednesday when Gress tried to engineer a quick repeal of the 19th century ban on the House floor. 

Republicans ran like the wind, quickly adjourning so they wouldn’t have to take a position.

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In fact, though, they’ve already taken a position. Every Republican in the Legislature touts himself or herself as “100% pro life.”  

Abortion law could force: The GOP to fix itself

If they now repeal the 1864 law about to take effect, they make a mockery of their own belief that life begins at conception — that all abortion is murder.

If they put a competing measure on the November ballot, proposing that abortion be legal for up to 15 weeks, they send a message that “the ultimate sin,” as Lake calls it, is OK after all.

In 2022, 92% of abortions in Arizona occurred before 13 weeks, according to the state Department of Health Services. None occurred after 21 weeks.

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‘Unacceptable,’ Trump’s strongest supporters say

Now comes Trump — the president who takes credit for the demise of Roe v. Wade — asking pro-life Republicans to allow those abortions to continue. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Some of Trump’s strongest supporters are members of the Legislature’s hard right Arizona Freedom Caucus. They already were dismayed by the calls for repeal from Lake and other vulnerable Republicans.

“Sadly, it seems that some are choosing to reject the fundamental, core principle of protecting life,” the Freedom Caucus said on Tuesday. “Some have chosen instead to jump on the bandwagon to legalize unrestricted abortions for the first 15 weeks of pregnancy — a position that would permit 95% of all existing abortions to continue.

“This is unacceptable, morally wrong, and abrasively out of step with the central tenants of the Republican Party Platform and Republican voters. Murdering children is not a policy disagreement.”

Except, apparently, when it jeopardizes Trump’s reelection chances and their own control of the Legislature?

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Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @LaurieRoberts.

Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.





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State Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s abortion ban. What does it mean for university admissions?

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State Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s abortion ban. What does it mean for university admissions?


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Sahara Sajjadi said this week’s decision from the state’s Supreme Court to uphold a Civil War-era abortion ban was a “letdown.”

“I feel like I’m never shocked when this news comes out, but always profoundly disappointed,” Sajjadi, 22, said.

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The graduate student studying at Arizona State University has had a few days to process the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a 160-year-old law. The move bans nearly all abortions except in cases to save the life of the mother, and it could be a blow to Arizona’s universities as they seek to attract students from across the country.

The news has reverberated across state and national politics. While Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said women and doctors will not be prosecuted under the law, her commitments could still be disputed by a county attorney.

Still, a significant number of students say a state’s access — or lack thereof — to reproductive health care impacts their decision on where to go to college.

Kari Lake acknowledges ‘people are angry’ as abortion debate gets heated

How could the Arizona abortion ban affect higher education?

According to a study published last month by the Lumina Foundation and Gallup, around 71% of students polled said reproductive health care policies factor into their choice on where to go to college. Of them, eight in 10 say they prefer states with fewer restrictions.

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This opinion is consistent among a variety of groups regardless of age, gender and political affiliation, says lead researcher Courtney Brown. But women, and Black and Hispanic students polled stronger in favor of fewer restrictions.

“This isn’t just a young person or a female issue,” Brown said.

While there isn’t data that shows an impact in enrollment yet, Brown said it’s a strong possibility fewer students will look to attend universities in states with restrictive reproductive health care policies. A spokesperson with the Arizona Board of Regents, the presiding board over the state’s public university system, said the board doesn’t have available data on the topic.

If she was looking for a school under current circumstances, would the ban affect Sajjadi’s decision?

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“Absolutely,” she said. “What student in the modern day, a progressive young person, wants to be in a state that’s adhering to draconian laws?”

Rei Tedoco, 19, said she moved to Arizona from Ohio under the impression that the state had a different political climate. With a new ban coming down, Tedoco said she feels her quality of care is at risk.

“Just knowing that my safety is not number one in the legislature’s eyes is just really disappointing,” Tedoco said.

Arizona previously had a 15-week ban, passed in 2022 before Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. The current law, which serves as a near-total ban, is one of the strictest in the country.

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Brown said these findings might affect out-of-state students more as they shop around for options. A drop in out-of-state enrollment would be significant as the state’s public colleges look to them for increased tuition revenue during a time when higher education budgets tighten.

“States are going to have a harder time recruiting students from out-of-state if those students say ‘You know, I’m not going to attend a school in a state that has policies that are counter to what I want,’” Brown said.

The trend extends to medical students as well. The majority of medical students said abortion access factored into their decision on where to accept a residency program, according to a 2023 study from the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Arizona is one of many states battling a shortage in health care professionals.

Recent estimates show more than 14,000 nurses and 3,000 physicians are needed by 2030 to satisfy shortages. The Board of Regents launched the recent campaign, AZ Healthy Tomorrow, to invest in the state’s health care workforce but the outcomes could be affected by where future professionals choose to practice.

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Helen Rummel covers higher education for The Arizona Republic. Reach her at hrummel@azcentral.com. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @helenrummel.





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A near-total ban on abortion has supercharged the political dynamics of Arizona, a key swing state

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A near-total ban on abortion has supercharged the political dynamics of Arizona, a key swing state


PHOENIX — Arizona was already expected to be one of the most closely contested states in November’s U.S. presidential election. But a ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged the state’s role, transforming it into perhaps the nation’s most critical battleground.

This Sunbelt state with a fierce independent streak has long been at the forefront of the nation’s immigration debate due to its 378-mile border with Mexico and its large Hispanic and immigrant populations. It now moves to the center of the national debate over reproductive rights after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a federally guaranteed right to abortion.

Abortion and immigration have been two of this year’s biggest political issues. No battleground state has been affected more directly by both than Arizona.

“Do not underestimate this,” Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who polls for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, said of the Arizona abortion ruling. “It’s dynamic-changing.”

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Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump are expected to fight hard to win Arizona after Biden carried the state four years ago by less than 11,000 votes.

In addition to the presidency, the U.S. Senate majority may be decided by the state’s high-profile contest between Republican Kari Lake and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego in the race to replace retiring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling reviving an abortion ban passed in 1864 also added rocket fuel to Democrats’ push to add a question to the November ballot asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion until viability, when a fetus could survive outside the womb. Later abortions would be allowed to save the woman’s life or protect her physical or mental health.

Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita, who also serves as chief of staff to the Republican National Committee, described Arizona as “a key part of the strategy.”

He declined to discuss any specifics on strategy but disagreed that the abortion ruling fundamentally changed Arizona’s dynamics.

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“Is abortion an issue that the campaign has to deal with in the battleground states — and more specifically in Arizona? Absolutely. We feel that we are doing that and we are exceeding what we need to do,” LaCivita said, even as he suggested other issues would be more salient for most Arizona voters this fall.

“The election is going to be determined really in large part based on the key issues that the vast majority of Arizonans have to deal with every single day, and that’s, ‘Can I afford to put food on the table and feed my family and get in the car to go to work?’” he said.

Democrats are quick to note that they have won virtually every major election in which abortion was on the ballot since the June 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Biden campaign on Thursday launched a statewide abortion-related advertising campaign that it said would reach seven figures, although ad tracking firms had yet to confirm the new investment. The new ads come in addition to a $30 million nationwide advertising blitz that was already underway, according to Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz.

In the new ad, Biden links Arizona’s abortion restrictions directly to Trump.

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“Your body and your decisions belong to you, not the government, not Donald Trump,” Biden says. “I will fight like hell to get your freedom back.”

Beyond the ad campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to appear in Arizona on Friday to highlight the Democrats’ dedication to preserving abortion rights.

Even without this week’s abortion ruling, Democrats were already betting big on Arizona this fall.

Biden’s team is on track to spend more than $22 million on Arizona advertising between April 1 and Election Day, according to data collected by the ad tracking firm AdImpact. That’s millions more than other swing states like Wisconsin, Georgia and Nevada. Only Pennsylvania and Michigan are seeing more Democratic advertising dollars.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, isn’t spending anything on Arizona advertising this month and hasn’t yet reserved any general election advertising in the state, according to AdImpact.

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Yet Trump remains bullish on the state, which had backed a Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1996 before it narrowly supported Biden in 2020. They point to a modest shift among Hispanic voters, a core group in the Democratic coalition, which may be more open to Trump.

Meanwhile, Arizona Republicans are still bogged down by GOP infighting in a state where the party apparatus built and nurtured by the late Sen. John McCain has been usurped by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” loyalists.

The division came to a head in the 2022 primary for governor, when Trump and his allies lined up enthusiastically behind Kari Lake, while traditional conservatives and the business establishment backed her rival.

Lake won the primary. Rather than mend fences with the vanquished establishment, she gloated that she “drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine.” She’s since made a more concerted effort behind the scenes to win over her GOP critics, with mixed results.

Lake, a major MAGA figure sometimes discussed as a potential Trump running mate, is now running in the state’s high-profile Senate race.

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Like Trump, she has come out against the latest abortion ruling, arguing it is too restrictive. But two years ago, Lake called the abortion ban “a great law,” said she was “incredibly thrilled” that it was on the books and predicted it would be “setting the course for other states to follow.”

The ruling played straight into the hands of Gallego, her Democratic rival, who had already put abortion rights at the center of his pitch to Arizona voters.

“I think we were on our way to winning this,” he said in an interview. “I think what it does is it focuses people’s attention on abortion rights that maybe weren’t thinking about it as the most important thing or one of the top issues.”

Meanwhile, Anzalone, the Biden pollster, warned his party against overconfidence.

“It’s not going to be easy. These are all close races. I’m not getting ahead of myself in any way,” he said of the fight for Arizona this fall. “But we like the advantage we have there.”

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