Valley of the Sun Early Childhood Association

Building Leaders from the Start

aka Valley of the Sun Association for the Education of Young Children   |   SCOTTSDALE, AZ   |  http://vseca.org

Mission

Valley of the Sun Early Childhood Association (VSECA.org) was incorporated as an Arizona non-profit 501(c)(3) in 1974 with the mission of serving children, families and educators in greater Phoenix and Maricopa County. We share a proud history of becoming the second national affiliate for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In 2017, Valley of the Sun became a chapter of Arizona AEYC, joining our colleagues across the state of Arizona.

Notes from the nonprofit

Thank you for providing this opportunity. So much has changed in our world, yet one thing we know for certain is that people who teach and care for our children need our support now more than ever.

Ruling year info

1974

Director

Mrs. Mary Ann Biermeier

Main address

25150 N PIMA RD School Office

SCOTTSDALE, AZ 85255 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

23-7066420

NTEE code info

Professional Societies, Associations (O03)

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

Kindergarten, Nursery Schools, Preschool, Early Admissions (B21)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

To lift working families out of poverty, we must take deliberate action to dismantle systemic barriers to ensure that families have equitable access to opportunity. Providing quality early childhood learning environments is critical to this transformation. Yet, Title 1 school playgrounds are notoriously hardscape with no trees, no gardens, and limited access to the natural world. When we speak of equity, we must first look to our learning environments. FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND provides outdoor libraries, unique gardens, music centers, pathways and small centers which support foundational literacy and scientific inquiry. We are putting research into practice. We are acting upon our values. We are creating beautiful spaces for teachers and children to create learning together. In addition, we work with the teaching teams to utilize the playground as an outdoor classroom. By offering professional development in utilizing the outdoor classroom, we transform teacher's thinking.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND

FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND is a professional development initiative designed to connect teachers and classrooms to powerful learning environments. We know that all of us learn deeply when our senses are high, when we are enjoying ourselves in a socially charged learning environment. Find out more at VSECA.org.

In collaboration with local early childhood communities we transform hard-space playgrounds – often void of natural life – to engaging learning spaces. We partner with directors, principals and teachers to connect learning that is traditionally done indoors to the outdoors. In this, we flip the classroom by creating outdoor spaces that foster learning together.

Grants are available for Title 1 schools through application. If your PreK to Grade 3 community and teachers are interested in deeper professional development that connects all of the stakeholders, we would like hear from you. Together, we can do this!

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Children and youth

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children 1974

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Objective 1: 100% Teacher Participation in Professional Development
Flip this Playground - Harmony Garden
Measured by: Attendance at music workshop and collaborative professional development meetings.
Outcome: Teachers are comfortable and familiar with use of instruments, songs and rhymes.

Objective 2: 100% Teacher Participation in Documenting Student Outcomes
Measured by: Use of diverse classroom assessment data, such as formative, summative, performance-based, portfolio, and student observations. Results are used in conjunction with district, state, and national assessment data to form a picture of student learning.
Outcome: Teachers integrate outdoor learning with assessments already utilized by the school district and Head Start. Teachers no longer view outdoor play as a break from learning.

Objective 3: Measured Rise in Student English Language Development (2020-2021 school year)
Measured by: Use of diverse classroom assessment data, such as formative, summative, performance-based, portfolio, and student observations. Results are used in conjunction with district, state, and national assessment data to form a picture of student learning.
Outcome: Students participate in Harmony Music Garden with small groups and on their own initiative, playing instruments and singing songs.

Harmony Music Garden:
We are transforming dirt playground into a wheelchair accessible music garden. To accomplish this task, we will hire a landscaper to design and install walkways, planters, irrigation, and footings for the musical instruments (hardscape). Once the hardscape is installed, we will purchase plants and shrubs for the garden. Together with the parent committee and volunteers, we will create a beautiful space for children to learn. We will hire an acoustical musician from Harmony Freenotes to train the teaching staff on how to use these instruments. This professional development is critical to learning outcomes. We are mindful that teachers will not engage children in this space if they are not comfortable themselves with the instruments.
Freenotes Harmony is the industry leader in outdoor musical instruments. These innovatively designed instruments are durable, sustainable, and perfectly tuned sound sculptures that enhance any outdoor space. Installations can be found in all 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii.
Workshops provided by Freenotes nurture each person’s innate and unique creative expression. Playing Freenotes provides immediate gratification and fosters confidence in the ability to play music. Creating repeated patterns of melody, harmony, and rhythm opens the door to exploring and interacting with music. Language and learning are melded together in this enjoyable experience.
Projects at Title 1 schools are difficult to fund as the families are not a source for fundraising. Families contribute to the project through in-kind and volunteering their time. Valley of the Sun has received a portion of the funding for Harmony Music Garden at Sunrise Elementary through a grant from the Arizona Coyotes Foundation. We have also received small donations toward the purchase of plants and scrubs for the gardens.

We are 100% volunteer organization with no grant staff employed. We believe our work speaks volumes and that outcomes drive contributions.

We successfully collaborated with Maricopa County Head Start and Deer Valley School District in transforming playgrounds for children. We have opened up a grant application, inviting other Title 1 schools to apply.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Early childhood education PreK-Grade 3 Words are not enough – we must take action to ensure that families have equitable access to opportunity. When we speak of “equity” we must start at the very beginning by providing quality learning environments for all. If our goal is to lift working families out of poverty, then we must take deliberate action to dismantle systemic barriers. Providing quality early childhood learning environments is critical to this transformation. Yet, Title I school playgrounds are notoriously hardscape with no trees, no gardens, and limited access to the natural world. We can do better. FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND provides outdoor libraries, unique gardens, music centers, and small group centers which support foundational literacy and scientific inquiry.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, Suggestion box/email,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We have found that creating online learning opportunities to be highly effective as teachers can view the content over and over, on their own schedule.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We believe that feedback starts at the beginning of the project. Although we provide the framework for FLIP THIS PLAYGROUND, the design of the spaces and the maintenance are the responsibility of the parents and teacher. By creating playground committees, we empower parents and teachers to be actively involved in designing learning environments. We listen to their desires and dreams. We make sure that parents and teachers are actively involved in the project from the start. In this way, they have ownership and a sense of accomplishment.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve,

Financials

Valley of the Sun Early Childhood Association

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Valley of the Sun Early Childhood Association

Board of directors
as of 7/11/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mrs. Lisa Cobb

Arizona PBS - Arizona Workforce Registry

Term: 2021 - 2023

Lisa Cobb

Arizona PBS-Arizona Workforce Registry

Claire Schonaerts

Northern Arizona Univeristy

Gloria McGinty

Maricopa Community Colleges

Judy Basham

Glendale Community College

Shauna Winburn

Westside Head Start

Marcia Johnson

Association for Supportive Child Care

Veronica Perrone

Rio Salado College

Susan Cahalan

Classroom Teacher

Paula Corbin

CTE Instructor EVIT

Becky Johnson

First Things First Arizona

Catherine Kirk

Phoenix Head Start

Pilar Kelly

CEO Little Big Minds Preschool

Martha Mazor

CEO Whiz Kids Preschools

Rico Reagina

Title 9 Child Care Licensing

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/11/2021,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/11/2021

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.