Coalition Bridges Gaps to Ensure Equitable Access to Career Readiness

Posted in: Partners

Arizona industry leaders in career development, educational institutions, and employer partners are joining together to launch the Arizona Coalition for Career Readiness (ACCR). The coalition’s goal is to advance Arizonans’ quality of life with career development opportunities to help meet the workforce goals outlined in Achieve60AZ, an initiative that aims to help 60% of Arizona adults attain a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.

“Meaningful career exploration and development in middle to high school through college results in more successful employees,” said Katherine Pappas, senior vice president of Pipeline AZ. “Not all Arizona students have access to those learning opportunities and we are dedicated to changing that.”

Founding coalition members include Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC), Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA), Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA), Valley of the Sun United Way, and Pipeline AZ. The Pipeline AZ career development and exploration platform is a singular hub for the coalition’s work around building comprehensive career pathway information in Arizona.

These five organizations have collaborated to ease workforce transitions and bridge existing career journey gaps by combining resources and expanding outreach and programmatic efforts.

This includes MyFutureAZ, an initiative with Pipeline AZ, CFA, ABEC and the Arizona Department of Education, to give K-12 students enrolled in Arizona public schools access to Pipeline AZ’s toolkit.

“The ACCR alliance is a promising step towards creating a future where everyone can pursue personally rewarding careers that are also advantageous for Arizona’s economy,” said Aaron Ball, director, college and career pathways liaison at Center for the Future of Arizona. “We’re proud to partner with all the coalition members on this full-force effort to streamline access to resources, ensure that all students from kindergarten through college can explore their college and career interests aligned with the state’s talent demands, and contribute to building a stronger, brighter future.”

“Technology, cybersecurity, construction and heavy equipment are among the fastest growing industries seeking new talent,” said Jim Zaharis, executive vice president at Arizona Business and Education Coalition. “ABEC is proud to partner with ACCR to support their efforts to connect students to these organizations and fortify the future of the Arizona workforce.”


JA has also aligned some of its programs with the MyFutureAZ platform to best serve its students.


“When we work together, not only is our impact greater, but the process is more efficient for educators and administrators,” said Anne Landers, chief operations officer, Junior Achievement of Arizona. “ACCR will empower students to gather essential information about career support and planning to prepare them for an increasingly global and technologically advanced workplace.”

The Opportunities for Youth Grant through Valley of the Sun United Way and Pipeline AZ provides Arizonans aged 16-24 who are not working or in school with expanded access to education and employment opportunities such as hands-on, work-based learning, apprenticeships, and mentoring experiences.

“Arizona, like much of the nation, is experiencing significant and persistent disparities in educational equity. Rural communities are among some of the most underserved students in the state, and this coalition will utilize its collective resources to improve outreach in these areas,” said Melissa Boydston, Ed.D, senior vice president of community development and engagement at Valley of the Sun United Way. “We’re honored to be a part of this effort as we work to close opportunity gaps, help students prepare for career success, and open pathways to better paying jobs.”


To learn more about the Arizona Coalition for Career Readiness, visit arizonaccr.org.


About Pipeline AZ

Pipeline AZ is a career development and exploration platform that creates pathways to in-demand careers by connecting the dots between industry and education. It uses skills mapping technology to help job seekers discover new paths or level up in their existing careers while also serving as a valuable recruiting tool for employers. Learn more at pipelineaz.com.


About Center for the Future of Arizona

Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan “do-tank” that brings Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state. Through survey research & reports, Arizona Progress Meters, and impact initiatives & programs, CFA listens to Arizonans to learn what matters most to them, shares trusted data about how Arizona is doing in those priority areas, brings critical issues to public attention, and works with communities and leaders to solve public problems. CFA leads impact initiatives and programs across the state in the areas of education, workforce development, and civic health, recognizing how essential these are to advancing economic prosperity, quality of life, and opportunity for all. Learn more at arizonafuture.org.


About Arizona Business and Education Coalition

The Arizona Business and Education Coalition (ABEC) was founded in 2002 after voters passed Proposition 301, a ballot initiative which put more money into Arizona’s public K-12 classrooms. Many of those same business and education leaders who came together to support Proposition 301, founded ABEC.

ABEC members and supporters understand that our state’s future economic success is directly linked to the success of our K-12 schools. Education is a shared responsibility among all community stakeholders: the family unit, the educational provider and future employers. In its commitment to improve student achievement and strengthen the state’s future workforce, ABEC promotes among the various stakeholders quality partnerships between schools and businesses. Such quality partnerships will ultimately lead to improved student achievement and a stronger work force of tomorrow.


About Junior Achievement of Arizona

Junior Achievement of Arizona (JA) is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that equips Arizona students to succeed in work and life by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to manage their money, plan for their future, and make smart academic, career and economic choices. Since 1957, JA has taught kids, kindergarten through high school, about financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship. The organization’s hands-on, age-appropriate programs are delivered by more than 8,000 corporate and community volunteers. JA reached more than 150,000 students in the 2022-2023 school year. Follow @JAArizona on social media or visit jaaz.org/resources for more free online educational tools.


About Valley of the Sun United Way

Valley of the Sun United Way envisions a community where every child, family and individual is healthy, has a safe place to live, and has every opportunity to succeed in school, in life and in work. As we work with our community, corporate and nonprofit partners to implement our five-year plan for Mighty Change by 2026, Valley of the Sun United Way will put all of its efforts toward reaching Bold Goals for Maricopa County in health, housing and homelessness, education and workforce development. Join us at vsuw.org.


September is Arizona Career Awareness Month

Because of the coalition’s efforts, the governor has declared September to be Arizona Career Awareness Month. We’re thrilled about this news and all the ways it will raise awareness about the importance of career exploration and planning, especially starting at a young age. This brings us closer towards our goal of creating a future in which everyone in Arizona has a fulfilling job that makes the community a better place.