Fifteen years ago, educators Mario and Debi Ybarra were challenged by friends “that if they really wanted to do something for people in their community, they would improve the education there.” At that time, Mrs. Ybarra was a counselor at AWC where she tested numerous students whose scores were of concern to her. It was one student’s test scores, in particular, that would change both Dr. and Mrs. Ybarra lives forever. A beautiful Hispanic woman, the daughter of a farm worker and local beautician, asked Mrs. Ybarra to help her get into college. After testing her, Mrs. Ybarra was shocked to see that her test scores in English, Reading, and Writing were ESL Level 1, matching those of a student transferring from another country. This girl held in her hand a high school diploma from a local high school. Wanting to make sure this did not happen to others in the Yuma area, the couple decided to accept their friends’ challenge after much prayer.

Mrs. Ybarra parents, 40-year veteran public school educators, were called out of retirement and the endeavor to provide “a private education in a free public school” for those who could not otherwise afford it began. The mission statement was birthed out of the Ybarra’s belief that a child’s achievement is not merely based on ability, but opportunity. Their goal was to provide the opportunity for children to achieve their highest potential through a challenging curriculum and strong character development.

Today the school is in its fifteenth year of operation. It serves 2000 students and 4000 parents in 3 locations. The population is 85% Hispanic and mirrors the population of the public schools in the area that it currently serves. As a small business and educational facility, the organization has faced many challenges, but it also has seen many victories. It has received over $200,000 from the Sam Walton Foundation and $50,000 from the prestigious Challenge Foundation, being the only grant awarded in Arizona in 2003. Dr. Ybarra was chosen out of 200 applicants across the nation to serve in the Lee Fellowship. The Fellowship offers a Master’s Degree program providing an MBA and Masters in Education simultaneously, developed specifically for charter school holders. His research on English immersion and the success of their students is being touted nationally.

Dr. and Mrs. Ybarra are committed to only hiring teachers that have a love for children, desire to grow and see teaching not only as a profession but as a mission. The future goals for the school are to continuously improve the education provided for their student’s and to work with the educators locally, statewide and nationally in sharing information and models for improving education for all children.

Board Members

Deborah G. Ybarra

Title: President

Vida Florez-Warner

Title: Member

Lisa Lopez

Title: Member

Frank Yanez

Title: Finance Consultant