MDTP Receives $2,000 in Grant Funding from Albertsons and The Pollination Project!

Million Dollar Teacher Project Receives $2,000 in Grant Awards From Albertsons Companies Foundation & The Pollination Project

Million Dollar Teacher Project would like to give our tremendous gratitude to both the Albertsons Companies Foundation and The Pollination Project for the grant funding they both have given us in support of our work of recognizing and supporting Arizona teachers.  Both companies gave us a contribution in the amount of $1,000 each.  These dollars will immediately help us impact over 900 teachers through our Take a Teacher to Lunch and Classroom Support Team programs by helping us continue to build capacity to expand those programs.  Our goal is to be a statewide program by the year 2020 and you support has helped us get a step closer.

Thank you!!!!

You can visit The Pollination Project website to read about their support of MDTP by clicking the link:

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One In A Million: Aran Kelly

One In A Million Feature Questions

Name: Aran Kelly

School: Alhambra High School

Grade:  9-12

Support Needed: Basic school supplies: especially…pencils, highlighters, notebooks, journals, printing cartridges (HP 62)


How long have you been a teacher?

Including subbing and teaching artist residencies – 6 years.
Certified: 2 years


What made you get into the teaching profession?

Having breakthroughs with students and seeing the lightbulb go off.
Both older brothers are teachers, so were my parents at one point.

I am a former special education student who has found an expressive outlet through spoken word poetry. I have developed IEP preparation curriculum which incorporates spoken word performance and poetic elements. The results have resulted in students students self stating that they felt empowered as they played an active role as the leader of the IEP meeting, as opposed to a fly on the wall which is how I remember it. This easy process builds student’s self confidence and produces individuals who can articulate their needs on their own, in a job interview. I want to empower students to be confident, educated, and successful citizens.


Who was your most inspirational teacher and why?
This is a tough question to answer because there has been more than one teacher who has inspired me during my academic career, and in different ways. I was inspired by my high school chemistry teacher, Dr. Thornburg, to sacrifice my lunch hour to help my students stay ahead; so long as they meet me half way. With Dr. Thornburg’s help, I passed high school chemistry with an A.


What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Lack of support from the state level and lack of commitment to education. The state of Arizona spends more on prisons than it does on education. Consequently, the teachers in Arizona have all of their interest in keeping students out of prison while the state has all of their interests in putting students in there. On average, Arizona prison guards make more than teachers. As of April 29th, 2018 correctional officers in Yuma are paid $44, 333.


How do these issues affect your day to day?
A lot of the issues are beyond my control. Issues stem from poverty and poverty in the home. Racial and cultural differences come into play as well.


What does the $250 tax deduction for school supplies for teachers mean to you?
Not much unless I itemize. It’s basically an empty gesture, also it means that I still have to come out of pocket to pay for supplies.


How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality?
As a special education teacher I have extra duties to perform, things which were not included in the job description.

Bringing a duffel bag with extra clothes to class for the teen who wets himself, coordinating information on your prep from 3 different departments and getting signatures so an autistic student can be a ball boy for the basketball team all because the person who ran the Best Buddies program abandoned the post, and picking up the cap and gown on my lunch hour for a senior who is at home recovering from surgery have been parts of my reality as  a teacher. Being expected by the administration to perform duties that are above and beyond what is written in my contract has been part of my reality as a teacher.


Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly?
Illiteracy is a huge ineptitude for many of my students and literacy programs are costly, limited, or non existent. Lack of support for the teachers and students from the district and state are very evident. Frustration from the inability for teachers to provide what they need to teach their students is a problem. The demands placed on teachers deprive them of the time needed to look after themselves both mentally and physically. Teachers take work home with them and have very little spare time. Special Education teachers are particularly impacted by all of the deficits that prevent the expertise needed to address their student’s mental health issues. A lot of teachers have to take on second and third jobs to make ends meet. My second job is as an NCAA, collegiate water polo announcer.


What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty?
Spinning records at home and writing poetry, plus, rocking microphones fills my cup.


What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude?
Show up to the IEP meetings and team up with teachers.

Support the “Red for Ed” movement and go to the polls in November. It’s time to vote out of office folks unwilling to invest in education. Funding programs, classrooms, the arts and teachers is an investment in all of our future.  Thank you to the parents and community members who showed up at the Phoenix Capital Building to support teachers and education at the end of April. Keep the rock steady.

What is your wish for Arizona’s children?

My wish for Arizona’s children is for them to feel like education really matters. I want them to know that they live in a safe state and country that cares about equipping them with the information, tools and skills to be successful in life. At the moment, I believe that children in Arizona schools are not convinced that the State and Country overall, have their backs regarding education and gun control.


Who do people contact if they want to offer you additional support or where do people send supplies if they want to make a donation to your class?
Thank you in advance, your support is appreciated and does make a difference.


My email address is:

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MDTP awarded Cox Charities Grant!

Cox Charities Grants $543K to Arizona Nonprofits Focused on Youth

Cox Charities has granted $543,250 in funding to 80 Arizona nonprofits, such as Center for the Future of Arizona and Million Dollar Teacher Project, with the majority of the funding coming from Cox Communication’s 3,200 Arizona employees.

“Cox is committed to making a difference in Arizona by giving back to the communities we serve,” said John Wolfe, senior vice president and southwest region manager for Cox Communications. “We are proud to make this donation to local nonprofits whose missions are to support and educate youth.”

Center for the Future of Arizona will use the grant funding to expand the organization’s Participatory Budgeting in Schools work, which invites high school students to learn democracy by developing ideas and voting on specific projects that will build stronger school communities.

“It’s not only an investment in the school, but an investment in our students’ critical thinking, communication, problem solving abilities and their buy-in and ownership of the school,” said a Phoenix Union High School District Principal.

The Million Dollar Teacher Project funding will aid in the organization’s work in the Alhambra Elementary School District through its Classroom Support Team model which puts together a team to help the teacher in creating more opportunities for diversified and differentiated instruction in the classroom.

Since the program began in 1996, Cox Charities has awarded more than $7 million Arizona nonprofits that focus on youth and education.

Posted By  to on October 2, 2018 (

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Birthday Boy! : Benjamin’s Second Birthday Party Fundraiser!


Benjamin’s 2nd birthday is already here, and you all know that a new year comes with new challenges and opportunities for growth. Benjamin the Owl has left the nest, stretched his wings, and leveled up his game in helping teachers gain increased recognition, support, and compensation for their invaluable contributions to our communities that often go unappreciated. Through programs like Take a Teacher to Lunch and Classroom Support Teams, Benjamin has been off to a great start supporting teachers, but we know Benjamin needs the proper nourishment and direction for his continued success.

To really help Benjamin out, we need your help to contribute to the only birthday present he so graciously requested: an awesome fundraiser to help teachers! Benjamin says we need to ‘help support students by supporting teachers,’ and this fundraiser is going to make all that happen and more.


Help us finish the Puzzle! The closer we reach our goal of $1500 the faster we can help Benjamin celebrate his birthday! (Check back on the social media pages to see the progress we make!)

You can help donate by contributing through Facebook or through our website if you do not have a facebook account.

Donations of $100 or more will gain a VIP invite to Benjamin’s Birthday Party!!

Click me to bring you to the Facebook Fundraiser!

Click me to Donate through the Website!

Be sure to follow Benjamin and MDTP on the social media here!

InstagramTwitter – Facebook

Who is Benjamin?

Benjamin the Owl was born in an abandoned roost in Central Phoenix. With very little guidance from his parents, Benjamin felt neglected and was unsure of his purpose when the day would eventually come to spread his wings and leave the nest. Benjamin was a lonely owl at school. He was extremely intelligent and kind, but nobody wanted to befriend him. One day, Benjamin was approached by a teacher that inspired him to use his incredible smarts to help provide for his parents and attend college. This teacher also helped Benjamin make friendships that he thought were inaccessible. Benjamin was ever grateful for this teacher, who upon further examination was struggling to pay the bills and her voice neglected. The moment Benjamin realized that a teacher’s job to educate and inspire wasn’t being taken seriously by society, he found his passion and his purpose for his life. Benjamin has been a teacher’s greatest ally for two years. His philosophy on bettering the conditions of teachers consists of three pillars: recognition, support, and compensation. By bettering these three areas, teachers only feel more passionate and inspired by their work, and can provide a higher quality of education for their talented students. Benjamin always says that “we support students by supporting teachers.” Benjamin is looking towards expanding his mission by taking the good fight nationwide in the next few years so he can impact as many teacher’s as possible. However, as superb an owl Benjamin is, he is only one owl and cannot do everything alone. Benjamin needs help spreading his message, and you can help by supporting the work of MDTP by donating, volunteering, or even directly working for the growing organization.

If you want to learn more about Million Dollar Teacher Project and the great work it’s doing with Benjamin, check out this short, but inspiring video!



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