Our Explore Program Takes It’s First Trip to South Phoenix!

May 23, 2023

Exploring local cities is such a valuable part of the Explore experience because it sheds light on places that exist just a short distance from where most of our participants live. This means they either have some of their own experiences with those places, or have some pre-existing ideas of what that place is all about. As it turns out, disrupting the preconceived ideas that may exist about South Phoenix is exactly what local leaders there aim to do.

We visited South Phoenix for the first time this year, shaping a program experience around just a few of the assets that were identified through discussions with local leaders. 

Dani Portillo, the new superintendent of Roosevelt School District and alumni of the first Explore class, along with the leadership at Roosevelt School District offered to coordinate transportation for the VL Explore class. They met us bright and early at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center and transported us to Spaces of Opportunity to start our day with a discussion about Urban Farming and get our hands dirty assisting some of the farmers in weeding, cleaning, and harvesting. 

We then learned from education leaders at all levels to enhance understanding around the innovative efforts being made to support the unique student population in the area. We then transitioned to the Girl Scouts Campus at South Mountain, to learn about co-CEO Mary Mitchell’s unique perspective on leadership, and how she engages community members in the decision making process in the work they do. 

Afterwards, we went to the Sagrado Gallery where Sam Gomez and Darlene Jackson inspired the class with their grassroots efforts to organize the community around anti-displacement efforts. 

Our day ended at the Audubon Center where we toured the beautiful property before having the chance to learn from a panel about economic development and change happening around the light rail construction in the South Phoenix area. 

Whatever one’s perception might be, the word that should be adopted into the conversation about South Phoenix is ABUNDANCE. Not only did our class walk away with produce and girl scout cookies, but we left with a renewed understanding of the beauty and generosity that the South Phoenix community offered to us in our one day visit. 

For more photos, please visit our Facebook album.

Special thanks to all of our community partners who made the trip such an incredible experience.

Dani PortilloSuperintendent Roosevelt School District
Shelley JacksonSchool Board President
Mary MitchellGirl Scouts
Sam GomezThe Sagrado Gallery
John Wann AngelesThe Orchard / Spaces of Opportunity
Cloves Campbell Jr.Arizona Informant
Kerry DuskinRoosevelt School District
Darlene JacksonCommunity Leadership Alliance
Victor D. VidalesSoPho Convening
Jeffrey Y ZetinoAll In Education
Joel CarrascoCity of Phoenix Planner
Corey LycopolusNina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center
Thomas Claiborn IVFirst Things First Economic Development
Ryan ThayerSpaces of Opportunity
Jevin HodgePK Booker T Washington
Liz WarrenStorytelling Institute SMCC
Rodney MachokotoSpace of Opportunity

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