Steve Nash: Quality Early Learning For Little MVPs

by Steve Nash Foundation
Graduates of Educare Arizona
Graduates of Educare Arizona's CDA program!

Another school year off to a great (early!) start!

Educare Arizona has continued to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families in one of the most economically disadvantaged areas of Phoenix by providing exceptional early childhood education and family support services. Over the past year, Educare Arizona has made an impact in so many ways, including:

• Teaching!  Educare Arizona's growing minds receive scientifically developed, thoughtful curriculum in social studies, reading, math, and more each year.

• Conducting a Literacy Program for children ages 0-5 years so they enter kindergarten with the skills to sustain their literacy development and learning gains throughout their academic careers. The program includes having parents establish a home-based reading routine to improve the students’ literacy skills, a key ingredient to a lifetime of learning.

• Familes, guardians and parents!  Educare Arizona conducts regular educational sessions with parents and families on a variety of topics, including child development and parent involvement.  Our school believes in a teamwork approach, and involving family makes a big impact in a child's success.

• Training!  This year, dozens more parents will complete the CDA (Child Development Associate) Credentialing Program.   The CDA Program improves families’ income by training parents and helping them find a job in the early education field. In addition, the program benefits their children by training parents how to teach young children, which helps them better tutor their children in the home, maintain a home reading program, help them with school projects, and increase involvement in their children’s education.  Check out a photo below of a recent graduation ceremony.

• Nutrition!  Preparing and serving 150,000 nutritious meals and snacks to the children served by Educare Arizona. These meals and snacks are critical to the children’s health, as some arrive at Educare Arizona hungry in the morning after having had no evening meal the night before due to the family’s financial condition.

• And more nutrition! Conducting nutrition education for students so they know the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and the components of a well-rounded meal. If you haven't seen these little learners at work in our garden, please try to arrange a tour: the children plant seeds and seedlings and then tend and harvest the food, which is used to prepare on-site meals and is given to the families to supplement their home meals.  Feeling pride in their effort is more nourishment for their development.

• Creativity!  Educare Arizona has regular arts activities, exploring painting, clay and other supplies to create artwork — which improves motor skills, decision-making, imaginative play, and other age-and-stage targeted skills.

Every day at Educare Arizona makes a difference -- in the lives of the students, but also the community at large: quality early childhood intervention has been proven to provide lasting improvements in academic, social, emotional, and economic health.

Please keep investing -- it's working! -- and don't hesitate to reach out if we can provide any information.  Thank you for helping to grow health in kids.

Garden learning: growing health in kids!
Garden learning: growing health in kids!


Steve at Educare Arizona
Steve at Educare Arizona's Assisting Our Kids Day

Thanks to the support of people like you, more than 1,000 young people and families are getting ahead in life instead of falling behind early – a feat that resets their futures and stays with them for decades.

On August 1, Educare Arizona marks some key milestones that highlight its impact on children, families, educators and the community.  On that date, Educare Arizona will welcome its sixth class of children; in that class of 191 will be the 1,000th student Educare has served since opening its doors five years ago.

The impact of Educare Arizona doesn’t end with children. Also in August, Educare Arizona will welcome a group of new educators seeking their Child Development Assistant designation. In that group will be the 400th teacher that Educare Arizona has trained in its five-year history, establishing it as a local hub for training educators in early childhood education.

“The milestones we are celebrating this summer demonstrate that high quality early childhood experiences like Educare Arizona can make a permanent difference in the life of a child who might otherwise find his or her potential limited by life circumstances,” said Lisa Fernandez, Chief Development Officer for Educare Arizona. “And Educare Arizona isn’t just about changing the paths of children. Our teacher training programs have been so successful that they are being shared with other Educare facilities across the country."

World-renowned economists have demonstrated that when parents and caregivers provide enriching environments for our youngest learners, the benefits far outweigh the cost. Without a high-quality early education, underserved children who are most at risk for academic failure are also:
            • 50% more likely to be placed in special education
            • 25% more likely to drop out of school
            • 40% more likely to become a teen parent
            • 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime
Children who experience Educare for a full five years arrive at elementary school performing on par with average kindergarteners, regardless of socio-economic standing, research shows and Educare children have more extensive vocabularies and are better able to recognize letters, numbers and colors than their peers. And early findings indicate the gains Educare children make hold as they move through elementary school, and beyond.  That means a healthier, brighter, more productive workforce, and economy.

As Steve says, "there's nothing more powerful than a child having access to high-quality early learning opportunities.  There's not a more worthwhile pursuit, not only for that individual or his or her family, but for our communities."

To learn more about Educare Arizona and why the Steve Nash Foundation is invested in its success, come in for a visit, or visit or  Thank you for your support of Educare Arizona — your contribution will help grow health in more than 1,000 children and families!

Something to Chew On!
Something to Chew On!


Steve Nash on USA Today
Steve Nash on USA Today

Look who turned up in the pages of USA Today?

Last week, USA Today included an entire pull-out section on the importance of early learning, and featured Steve on the cover, promoting the huge advantages of investing in early childhood education.  With contributing articles by friend of the Foundation and the Educare Learning Network, Kris Perry of the First Five Years Fund, and Acting U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr., and tips to finding a great early learning program, the insert also included a Q&A with Steve on his interest in the first five years of life and learning.  An excerpt (read the whole article here):

Why is early education so important to you?

My twin daughters were babies when we started supporting early childhood education, first collaborating to create Educare Arizona and going on to work with the First Five Years Fund and Thirty Million Words.  We have too much to gain to let any child grow without giving them everything they need to develop their neuro, physical, and social-emotional health when it matters most.

Steve's seen firsthand the benefits that Educare Arizona has brought to the community.  The longitudinal study being conducted on Educare Schools across the country by the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina (pausing to saying congratulations to UNC for a great NCAA season and finals match-up against eventual champions Villanova!) proves that Educare is making a difference.  As Educare Arizona points out in its most recent newsletter, children who begin the Educare program between birth and two years old:

  • exceed the national average for school readiness by 9 points;
  • demonstrate average vocabulary scores of 96.9, approaching the national mean for all children; and
  • enter kindergarten exhibiting average or above average social-emotional skills.

To learn more about Educare Arizona, get on their email list!  Check out for more information.

Thank you for all you do to advance the potential of kids from across the socio-economic spectrum.  With your continued investment, you're helping to grow health in kids -- one great assist.

With hopes for a peaceful spring,



Steve & Ginger Ward - a Gift from Educare
Steve & Ginger Ward - a Gift from Educare's MVPs

What a lot to be thankful for!

This autumn at Educare Arizona has been the best kind of eventful: another school year off to a fantastic start for the children and families that make Educare hum!  Additionally, a number of notable visitors have visited Educare Arizona to learn about its impact on early childhood education, including Arizona’s First Lady Angela Ducey, and one of her key advisors on the Governor's Council for Child Safety and Family Empowerment, Kathy Pidgeon.  And Steve!

On October 30th, just hours before his jersey was retired by the Phoenix Suns, Steve visited Educare Arizona to be honored for his role in advancing child welfare -- with invited guests, friends, and family in from all over the world, Steve celebrated Educare Arizona's accomplishments as we celebrated him at "Assisting Our Kids: A Special Thank You to Steve Nash."  Nationally-recognized journalist, ESPN Senior Writer, and ABC News contributor LZ Granderson was on hand with proclamations from City of Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, proclaiming the day Steve Nash Day across the state, and the crowd heard from Charles Joughin of the First Five Years Fund, Jessie Rasmussen of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, and Educare Arizona Board Chair Christine Nowaczyk.

Despite retiring from the NBA earlier this year, Steve's entry into the Phoenix Suns' Ring of Honor that night yielded yet another assist: a $100,000 donation from Phoenix Suns Charities to Educare Arizona in honor of Steve's leadership.

As we enter into a holiday season replete with opportunities to give back to the communities that give so much to us, on behalf of everyone at the Steve Nash Foundation and Educare Arizona, thank YOU for all you do to grow health in kids -- we couldn't do it without you.  To learn more about the Steve Nash Foundation and Educare Arizona, please visit

With hopes for a healthy and happy holiday season,


Assisting Our Kids - A Special Thank You to Steve
Assisting Our Kids - A Special Thank You to Steve
Steve & Ginger Ward - a Gift from Educare
Steve & Ginger Ward - a Gift from Educare's MVPs
MVP Court - Actual Suns Court, Memorializing #13!
MVP Court - Actual Suns Court, Memorializing #13!
Steve's Emotional Address to Suns' Ring of Honor
Phoenix Suns Charities Award to Educare Arizona!
Phoenix Suns Charities Award to Educare Arizona!


First Lady Angela Ducey and Kathy Pidgeon Visit
First Lady Angela Ducey and Kathy Pidgeon Visit

And we're back -- our fifth school year at Educare Arizona is underway!

Before the students -- ranging in age from months old to five years -- returned, Educare Arizona had the opportunity to host long-time friend of the Steve Nash Foundation (and great child welfare innovator and advocate) Kathy Pidgeon, along with First Lady of Arizona, Angela Ducey.  They joined Educare Arizona board members (including Balsz School Superintendent Dr. Jeff Smith) and staff for a site tour and an engaged discussion of the enormous potential for high-quality early education to impact our communities.  We are already looking forward to our next time together, and to supporting the strong policy advocacy that Kathy and Angela will bring to benefit children across the state.

Soon thereafter, Educare Arizona also welcomed Vicki Mayo of the Department of Economic Security.  The tie between job creation, workforce development, and strong starts to life and learning couldn't be more clear -- as articulated in study after study*, access to quality early childhood education is a game changer.  Children that enroll in Educare schools have language and school readiness scores far exceeding mean achievement levels for children living in low-income households; children who spend more time in Educare -- who enroll at a younger age -- see even stronger benefits and outcomes.  And those outcomes hold, representing new trajectories for populations of children too often marginalized and underserved by ineffective (or non-existant) interventions.  Educare provides not only hope, but real world change.

In two months, the Phoenix Suns will retire #13, and welcome Steve into their Ring of Honor.  When he steps onto the court, he'll walk on with a lot of basketball to be proud of -- the two NBA MVP awards he won as a Sun, all-time NBA records, and teams that resulted in friendships and many, many wins -- but also a place in the Phoenix community.  On 48th and McDowell, Steve's helped to build a legacy of success, of championing the real MVPs among us, of assists that put the starting five years of childhood into play.  At the Steve Nash Foundation, we are so proud to be part of Educare Arizona, and of the nation-wide Educare Learning Network, and hope you'll continue to support our early learning efforts with your own assists.

If you're in Arizona (or near any of the twenty-one operating Educare sites across the country) and want to see up close what we're talking about, please don't hesitate to reach out to schedule a tour or ask any questions -- visit or , and follow us on twitter and Instagram at @stevenashfdn to learn more -- and please know that your support matters.

Thanks for reading,



* A little of that research is here.

AZ DES's Vicki Mayo Visits Educare Arizona
Steve Nash, MVP
Steve Nash, MVP
Steve Nash With Pre-K MVPs
Steve Nash With Pre-K MVPs

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Steve Nash Foundation

Location: Anchorage, AK - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Steve Nash Foundation
Project Leader:
Jenny Miller
Executive Director
Anchorage, Alaska United States

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