An InspirED Evening Honors Education Heroes

The Event: An InspirED Evening

The Cause: Education Forward Arizona

Event Date: October 20, 2022

Location: J.W. Marriott Camelback Inn

Premier Sponsor: Bank of America

Honoree: InspirED Luminary Award – Benito Almanza (Arizona Market President, Bank of America)

North Star Honorees: Tempe PRE – Early Learning category | Read Better Be Better – Elementary and Middle School | Arizona Student Opportunity Collaborative – High School | Freeport McMoRan Native American Scholarship Program – Postsecondary Education

Event Co-Chairs: Edmundo Hidalgo & Gema Duarte Luna

Keynote Speaker: Steven Seleznow, President & CEO of Arizona Community Foundation

Dollars Raised: $400,000

Notable Moments: In addition to hearing stories from each deserving award recipient, guests heard from Ezequias Fuentes, an Education Forward Arizona Scholar and senior at Arizona State University. Fuentes, who graduated from Camelback High School in Phoenix, has nine siblings. He spoke about the struggles that he and his brothers and sisters faced from growing up in poverty, moving homes frequently, and switching schools constantly. For example, he went to five different schools when he was in the eighth grade. This spring, he will be one of the first in his family to graduate from a public university. “Teachers have been very crucial in sparking my interest to continue to receive an education,” said Fuentes. “They have always shared the possibilities and opportunities that education can bring about, not only with careers, but with a sound mind and outlook on life. After graduating from high school, I was able to have a four-year college success coach from Education Forward Arizona to guide me and answer my questions. College has not been easy for me, and I’d be lying if I were to say it was. Seeing close friends weave out, going virtual for half of my college years due to the pandemic, losing two father figures, feeling incompetent at times around my peers, and the burden of having to make my community proud could at times feel very heavy. Although at times I might have felt alone, I was never lonely.”

Photos courtesy of Education Forward Arizona

Vince Roig, Honoree Benito Almanza and Rich Nickel, President & CEO of Education Forward Arizona
Tracy Bame representing the Freeport-McMoRan Native American Scholarship Program
Brian Taylor of Arizona Student Opportunity Collaborative
Naomi Farrell, Randy Keating and Marie Raymond representing Tempe PRE
Desiree Garcia of Read Better Be Better
Gabriel Canche, Ezequias Fuentes and Matt Sotelo
Steve Seleznow
Jacob Moore, Aleida Perez, Vanessa Ruiz, Pearl Chang Esau, Dr. Quintin Boyce & Bibiana Rivera
Bank of America Guests with Benito Almanza (center)
Surprise Mariachi

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