Arizona Autism Charter Schools wins $1 million national prize

Dec 20, 2022, 4:35 AM

(Arizona Autism Charter Schools Photo)...

(Arizona Autism Charter Schools Photo)

(Arizona Autism Charter Schools Photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona Autism Charter Schools announced Monday it won a $1 million national prize for being America’s most innovative and effective educational organization.

The Yass Prize, considered prestigious and education’s largest award, grants the education provider whose program provides effective and lasting educational experience with a clear path to success, according to a press release.

Nearly 2,700 organizations from 28 states, including public schools, education technology companies and micro-schools, applied for the 2022 prize.

“We are so honored to receive the $1 million Yass prize among many high-quality and inspirational programs from across the nation,” AZACS Founder and CEO Diana Diaz-Harrison said in the release.

“This funding will allow us to expand our reach and help more children on the autism spectrum across Arizona and the United States.”

The school offers a fully accredited online service and is a Title 1.

More than half of its students identify as Hispanic and nearly 76% of students qualify for free and reduce-priced lunch.

Diaz-Harrison founded AZACS after she had her son as a way to provide effective and transformative education.

“As an Autism mom, I don’t want my kid to be seen as disabled. I want him to be seen as a doer, intelligent and productive,” she said.

“These charter schools we are starting across America will help our children be neuro-diverse, be who they are and be fulfilled, productive citizens.”

AZACS has been around the Phoenix-area for over ten years, with three campuses across the Valley.

“This grant is definitely about highlighting schools that are providing choice for families, and I would encourage this holiday season that families really are thoughtful and research what could be an alternative school if your current school is not working out ,” Diaz-Harrison told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“Our state is a leader in providing choice for families and that is something that I don’t take for granted because it’s not the case in many other states,” she added.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino contributed to this story.

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Arizona Autism Charter Schools wins $1 million national prize