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Nonprofit of the Month: Center for the Future of Arizona

Center for the Future of Arizona has a mission that is simply put but incredibly important: bringing Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state. Here, Heather Thornton, director of Strategic Marketing & Communications for Center for the Future of Arizona, shares Arizona’s seven Shared Public Values, how the nonprofit came to be and how readers can help support its pursuit.

What is the mission of Center for the Future of Arizona? Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) is driven by the mission of bringing Arizonans together to create a stronger and brighter future for our state. We invest our time, talent and resources into The Arizona We Want, a shared vision of success for the state based on what matters most to Arizonans and their hopes and dreams for the future. The Arizona We Want was informed and inspired by CFA’s close listening to Arizonans over the last two decades and what we learned through extensive survey research in partnership with Gallup.

Arizona’s seven Shared Public Values are the foundational pillars of The Arizona We Want, showing us where we agree about what is important for Arizona. They are defined by where 70 percent or more of Arizonans–across the vast expanse of the state, in cities, towns, and rural communities, across age, race and ethnicity, education, and political affiliations–overwhelmingly agree. They are:

  1. Education: A highly educated and skilled population is good for the state
  2. Health and well-being: Affordable healthcare that covers preexisting conditions and provides accessible mental health services
  3. Jobs and economic opportunity: Good-paying jobs and the education and training needed for all Arizonans to fully participate in a vibrant economy
  4. Environment and sustainable future: Sustainable practices that protect our air, land, and water and support a high quality of life for all
  5. Civic engagement and leadership: Civic engagement that solves problems and democracy that works for all
  6. Fair, just, and equitable systems: Fair, just, and equitable treatment of all people
  7. Immigration reform: Comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship and support for DREAMers

What prompted the start of the nonprofit? In 2002, Dr. Lattie Coor, then the outgoing president of Arizona State University, and Dr. Sybil Francis, who is now chair, president and CEO of CFA, shared a vision driven by their love for Arizona and a desire to see it reach its full potential. This vision, combined with Coor’s expertise in education and Francis’s passion for public policy, led to the creation of Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) in 2003. Their goal was to promote the common good and address what matters most to the people of the state. Over time, CFA has grown, emphasizing the importance of Arizonans’ voices in shaping the future.

center for the future of arizona

What is the greatest reward in being involved with Center for the Future of Arizona? Discovering and fostering unity among Arizonans for the common good, building bridges of trust and understanding. Our work on the foundational Gallup Arizona Survey revealed in 2009 that, across the state, we agree on more than we disagree on the most important issues critical to our future. By identifying the areas of shared interest, CFA creates hope, inspiration, and energy for action. And through our work of putting this data into action over nearly fifteen years, we have seen this desire to come together firsthand from Arizonans over and over.

What is the biggest challenge the nonprofit faces? Ensuring that the diverse voices of Arizona’s population are truly represented and heard in everything we do. This takes meticulous data, actively engaging with various communities across the state, from urban to rural areas, and constantly evaluating and adapting in response to changing circumstances or new insights. It requires ongoing efforts, research, feedback collection, and sustained support to continue over time.

What are your goals for the new year? CFA will continue to grow its community engagement and research efforts, including conducting more surveys during the 2024 election season to identify what matters most to likely voters across the political spectrum. The insights will inform the return of its Arizona Voters’ Agenda initiative. CFA’s Arizona Progress Meters measure how Arizona is doing in areas critical to achieving The Arizona We Want. They provide valuable data on education, jobs, healthcare, and more. We aim to expand and refine these tools in the coming year to further inform and support policymakers and other leaders’ planning and action. 

CFA leverages expertise in education, workforce development, and civic health to lead 10 initiatives in these areas. We are committed to expanding promising solutions to the state’s most pressing needs in partnership with over 200 businesses, associations, foundations, school districts, colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations. 

How can readers help? There are many ways to support CFA by advancing The Arizona We Want. From sharing CFA’s research to partnering with us. Learn more about the organization and all the ways to get involved at

Does the nonprofit have any events or fundraisers on the horizon? CFA recently launched “Building Arizona’s Bright Future,” a three-year fundraising campaign designed to accelerate progress in the years ahead.

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