The mission of the East Valley Institute of Technology Educational Foundation is to secure donations from individuals, corporations and foundations for distribution among local students by way of scholarships. The funding paves the way for students facing financial challenges to further their education at the East Valley Institute of Technology, a school dedicated to developing vocational excellence and job-ready graduates.
The EVIT Education Foundation has helped hundreds of students undergo vocational and career training, awarding more than $500,000 in scholarships over the past five years.
Established 20 years ago with the sole purpose of providing financial support for students from EVIT’s over 100 East Valley high schools (including those in 11 school districts) who are unable to cover program and certification fees, the Foundation helps students in need cover the expenses associated with the school’s two-year career- or technical-training programs.
As program participants, students spend half the day at their original high school and half the day at an EVIT school, where they undergo training for a particular career or trade. Upon finishing the program, they apply for certification or licensure in their chosen fields of study.
Funds generated by the Foundation help cover these fees, and they also go toward the equipment, supply, uniform, and in some cases, tool costs associated with their chosen fields of study. These fees range from $150 to $600 per student, depending on the program.
The foundation was established because of the increasing number of students who desire to attend EVIT but are unable to cover the cost of the fees. Today, no student is denied admission to EVIT because of financial concerns.
The foundation assures that all students wishing to attend will have the financial support they need to do so. Comprised of 13 business and community leaders, the foundation hosts an annual fundraising breakfast in support of its mission. Funds generated by the foundation have remained relatively constant from one year to the next, but the need for financial assistance has increased year after year. To date, the EVIT Foundation has helped hundreds of students undergo vocational and career training, awarding more than $500,000 in scholarships over the past five years. Yet, costs are rising, enrollment is increasing and even more students will need assistance in the future.
The support of local businesses and industries is critical to the Foundation’s success in fundraising. Its last annual breakfast drew 40 table sponsors, with sponsorship levels ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. Those funds went directly back into the community via the Foundation’s scholarships.
EVIT has an extremely high completion rate of 98%. In addition, 92% of EVIT students go on to work, attend college or join the military. Most of the 263 students supported with financial assistance this past year would not have been able to do so without the Foundation’s help.
When one employer fielded questions about employing EVIT students, he responded that he had 12 on staff and would take an EVIT student over other individuals trained in the same trade. He said EVIT students came armed with the important workplace skills that others did not, showing up on time, dressing appropriately and exercising readiness with regard to communication and technical skills. EVIT plays a critical role in creating a trained workforce for our community, both today and for tomorrow.
While there is no formal assessment tool to track students supported by the foundation, we know we are making an impact through feedback from employers. We believe the continued support from businesses and industries directly correlates with the success of EVIT students. Some of the Foundation’s major supporters include Rolf’s Salons, Berge (now Larry Miller) Ford, Bill Okland Construction, George Brazil Co., Ricoh Office Solutions, Copper State Consulting, AT Stills University Mesa Community College, Great Clips, Farnsworth PT, SRP, Tran-city Life Insurance Co., Pima Medical Institute, Waxie, Arizona Auto Dealers, Assoc., etc.
The continued support for the Foundation through fundraising efforts and grants is critical to the continued education of at-risk youths facing financial hardships. The impact these students will have in our community is unknown, but failing to provide them with training like that offered by EVIT comes at a clear cost to the community. The continued cycle of poverty needs to stop, and for many families, their children present the best bet at stopping the cycle. An EVIT education is a major factor in helping the youths of today be the leaders of tomorrow.
Fees and certification costs are increasing. The number of students in need of help is increasing. Currently, 26% of EVIT students meet the criteria needed for assistance, and this figure is increasing each year. These funds would give additional students the opportunity to develop a technical skill through one of EVIT’s 43 programs, which in turn helps them break the cycle of poverty and make a positive impact on the workforce, one another and the entire communit
EVIT operates 43 high school vocational programs. Students from any of the over 100 East Valley high schools (including those in 11 school districts) within the Joint Technical Education District may apply to EVIT. Eligible districts include Scottsdale, Fountain Hills, Mesa, Tempe, Apache Junction, Chandler, Gilbert, Higley, Queen Creek and J.O. Combs. The sending high school provides transportation to EVIT for either the morning or afternoon program. Most students register during their junior year for the two-year program.
The sending high school provides transportation to EVIT for either the morning or afternoon program. Most students register during their junior year for the two-year program.
The school accepts three methods of payment. When students can afford it, they pay in full prior to classes starting. There are also payment plans available. If a student is unable to pay through either of these methods, they may seek help through the Foundation. The application period opens during the second week of classes, and students do not have to withdraw from the program prior to applying because of an inability to pay.
Family size and household income determine eligibility for financial assistance. If students fall within the federal guidelines for assistance, they receive automatic approval for full financial assistance. This is the case for 99% of program applicants. If students do not meet these guidelines but have circumstances that prevent them from paying the fee, the application moves to the Foundation Financial Aid Committee for review and recommendation. The Foundation Board has the final say with regard to the distribution of funds.
Once a student receives approval for financial assistance, the Foundation pays the approved fee costs directly to EVIT, where they become part of a student’s debt. The application process is open all year, helping new students in need of assistance as well as students whose circumstances suddenly changed, leaving them unable to pay their remaining debt. About 85% of the financial aid given undergoes approval at the beginning of the fall semester. The remainder of the requests come in during the spring semester.
If a student withdraws from class before using provided fees, the funds go back to the Foundation. This usually happens within the first couple of weeks of class. Once the class is underway, a student has typically already spent funds on uniforms, program equipment and so on.
EVIT has four campuses, with the main campus in Downtown Mesa and a second Mesa location located adjacent to the Gateway Airport. Additional campuses are in Apache Junction and Fountain Hills. Not all programs are available at all four campuses. Students attend the campus located closest to their home school that offers the program they wish to take.
Larry Christiansen is the Chief Executive Officer of Christiansen Associates Inc., launching the company in 2010. From 2007 to 2009 he served as a Sr. Consultant and then CEO of Outsource International, a management consulting firm in Scottsdale Arizona.
In 2007 Larry retired after 40 years in education with the final 19 years as President of Mesa Community College. He built a number of innovative business and educational partnerships at the local, state, national and international level. Larry has been involved in a number of key community projects including public bond elections, a leader in the reuse of the closed Williams Air force Base, and the development of technology and business and industry centers and a new college campus.
Larry served as President of the East Valley Partnership, a large business and industry group in the greater Phoenix area. He chaired the United Way annual fund drive, served on numerous boards and foundations, and a Rotarian. He joined the EVIT Board of Directors in 2010 and has chaired the board for the past 5 years.
Larry has published several books and written numerous articles. He has received a number of local, state, national and international awards and recognitions. Larry has Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate degrees.
Larry serves as head coach for three youth flag football teams and coordinates two golf groups.
Curt Krizan, CPA, is the Chief Financial and Ticket Revenue Officer of the Fiesta Bowl in Scottsdale. He joined the Fiesta Bowl team in 2011 as its CFO and has since added ticket sales to his responsibilities. Krizan began his career as an auditor with KPMG in Minneapolis and has worked at several entrepreneurial and non-profits during his career.
Krizan was recognized as the CFO Turnaround Achievement award winner by Phoenix Business Journal in 2016. His family mentors a little brother and sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Krizan also serves on the boards of the East Valley Institute of Technology Foundation (EVITF) and Visit Phoenix. He and his family reside in Gilbert, AZ.
Recently recognized by Arizona Business Magazine as one of Arizona's Most Influential Women in Business 2020, Franki Buckman joined the EVIT Education Board in September of 2020 bringing with her 25 plus years of experience in strategic marketing, fundraising, media & live event planning and execution. An Arizona native and former CEO of the Bondurant High Performance Driving School, Franki also and served as the Executive Vice President of Firebird International Raceway for over 15 years managing a 400+ acre property that was open 360 days per year working with partners likeFord Motor Company, General Motors, Lucas Oil, Harley Davidson and Live Nation.