Open Doors

Board approval, check. Engineering plans, check.

Capital Campaign, check.

Loan arranged, check…until, through no fault of Open Doors Community School, the loan fell through.

At the suggestion of a school board member, Open Doors Principal Mary Franco called the Nonprofit Loan Fund of Tucson and Southern Arizona. “We were ready, and NPLF threw us a lifeline,” she said.

This summer, a NPLF loan is covering renovations of the school buildings and play areas. Funding for the project also includes Community Development Block Grant funding from Pima County and capital campaign gifts from generous individuals. “This is not cosmetic renovation. Our enrollment is increasing, and our kids need more academic space and more play space to run and play kickball,” says Franco, who began her fourth year as principal this fall. The school is in its sixth year of operation.

More About Open Doors

This small nonprofit charter school in Marana serves children in kindergarten through 8th grade and is affiliated with the nonprofit Arizona Youth Partnership. The curriculum is aligned with the Arizona Common Core Standards, with an emphasis on rigor, depth and breadth across grade levels.

Class sizes are small, which means each child has greater and deeper access to teacher support. Maximum enrollment is 225 and each teacher knows the name of every student in the school, not just the students in his or her classroom.

“Building relationships and providing individual attention is key to our program,” says Franco. “We are a close-knit team of dedicated, skilled educators who help our students feel safe and supported. Curriculum and technology are important too, but our teachers are what matter most when it comes to student achievement.”

The school also offers parents the option of dropping their children off in the morning beginning at 7:15am, and a structured after school program includes homework time, tutoring, and fun, educational activities that complement what they are learning in school.

These programs, provided through the Arizona Youth Partnership, are free to parents, many of whom are hardworking and have low incomes. Because the afterschool program helps students complete their homework, parents and children can go home together and relax after long days of work and school.