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  • Writer's pictureAri Betof

Arizona's Underserved Students to Benefit from $129M Gift of Real Estate

President of the Phoenix-based commercial real estate firm Reliance Management Daryl Burton sold 70 percent of his company to Philadelphia’s Equus Capital Partners for $1.15 billion in October. And Arizona’s students from underserved communities are going to benefit from the transaction.

The property magnate and his and his wife of more than thirty years, Christy Burton, regarded the transaction as both a business and a philanthropic opportunity. They engaged the Arizona Community Foundation (AFC) to make their dream possible. The result is that the Burtons have donated property valued at $129 million to their family foundation, started at the Arizona Community Foundation in 2015 with another real estate gift of $25 million.

About the Gift

The couple's philanthropic efforts are directed at helping youths from the state's poorest neighborhoods prepare through programs to assist with college and career readiness, particularly in STEM fields. Partnering with the Arizona Community Foundation (AFC) allows them to access hundreds of students and grantees through its critical programs and services extended to Arizona's youth.

The gift is the largest [A1] in the ACF's 43-year history. ACF president and CEO Steve Seleznow says it provides a model for other donors wishing to use illiquid assets such as property and stocks to construct a lasting philanthropic legacy. He says it's been a privilege and a pleasure to work with the Burtons and customize their foundation to align with their charitable objectives.

About the Impact of Supporting Extracurricular Activities

The Burtons have become known for their evolving, innovative, and data-driven approach to philanthropy. For example, in 2015, in a single day of flash funding, the Burton Family Foundation funded approximately 700 needed items posted on the online crowd-funding platform of the Phoenix-based nonprofit Support My Club. The platform allows high school groups in athletics, academics, arts, and activities to publish their needs online. Donors can choose to sponsor items with the click of a mouse button. In return, for every $100 or equivalent value received, the club performs an hour of community service.

As parents with five children of their own, the Burtons value school-sponsored clubs. They see them as essential in providing young people with activities to pursue niche areas of interest and build positive relationships with peers and adults. A national study published in January 2015, “The Engagement Gap: Social Mobility and Extracurricular Participation Among American Youth,” confirms this.

The research revealed that income-based differences in extracurricular participation were on the rise and significantly affected later life outcomes. The Burtons wished to halt the trend that began in the 90s, whereby working-class students' participation in extra-curricular activities started plummeting leading some students to become increasingly disengaged and disconnected.

The couple was keen to assist the structured after-school activities proven to engage students, keep them enrolled in school, and discourage the adoption of risky behaviors. With just $100,000, the couple fulfilled the requests of over 100 extra-curricular activity clubs serving 26 of Maricopa County’s Title I public high schools with high numbers of students from low-income households.

About the Burton Family Foundation

The Burtons take an entrepreneurial approach to gifting, preferring to invest in strong leaders and dedicated teams. Working with other foundations and funders and organizations with a proven record of success, they can extend the reach and impact of their grants across more students in more locations.

One example of such a partnership is their foundation’s investment in the Beat the Odds Leadership Academy. Beat the Odds provides executive leadership training to school and district leaders throughout Arizona. Its curriculum draws on development practices from education, business, and the military and has proven successful in impacting student achievement.

Along with several other foundations and private donors, it also helped create the A for Arizona Expansion & Innovation Fund. The Fund is open to innovative leaders and educators from all K-12 models. It seeds community-driven education solutions that will immediately impact students.

Since its launch, the Fund has awarded over $1.75 million in grants across a diverse portfolio of initiatives and practices to serve Arizona's underprivileged and vulnerable students better. In the process, more than 65 community stakeholders have been actively engaged with recipients from commercial, civic, and parental organizations—all to rework what Arizona schools will look like now and in the future.

About Christy Burton

Due to the relationships, knowledge, and experience she garnered as Chairperson at the foundation, Ms. Burton was approached and subsequently appointed to be a public member of the Arizona State Board of Education in November 2017. Ms. Burton holds a B.S. in Economics and a Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University.

She also serves on the boards of the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundations, Teach for America Arizona, Student Expedition Program (STEP), and Support My Club. In addition, she is a member of the Camelback High Community Network, Philanthropy Roundtable, Aspen Institute Society of Fellows, Women in Philanthropy, and Arizona State University Presidents Club.

[A1]This doesn’t seem to be the right link. It goes to an unrelated article. Did the writer mean this one?

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