What: Imago Dei Middle School
Where: 55 N. Sixth Ave., P.O. Box 3056, Tucson, 85702
Imago Dei Middle School — a free private middle school in downtown Tucson for children from low-income families — has been transforming lives and making Southern Arizona a more stable and prosperous place since 2006.
The state tax credit contributions of our more than 1,000 individual supporters represent fully one-third of our operating budget, and allow us to give our scholars the support they need to close educational gaps and succeed.
Because most of our students are well below their grade level when they come to us, we provide a 10-to-1 student-teacher ratio and an extended school day, week and year.
We also furnish two meals a day, all materials, extensive enrichment activities, and continuing support through high school and beyond, all at no cost to qualifying families.
Our mission is breaking cycles of poverty through education, and what we do works. More than 90% of our older alumni have graduated high school on time and more than 85% have gone on to college, community college or job training.
Our sample size is still small – we have 162 graduates to date, all of whom we track through our Graduate Support Program – but a number of “our kids” have already established fulfilling careers and begun giving back to the school.
Their success is epitomized by Zahraa Kasimu, a member of our tiny first graduating class, who completed her bachelor’s degree at the UA last year, exactly on time. She came to us as a gifted, eager-to-learn fifth grader who knew no English and whose schooling had been gravely disrupted when her family fled violence in Africa.
“Imago Dei was a turning point in my life,” Zahraa says. “It instilled many of the values I live by and shaped who I am. And it has become a family tradition – my younger siblings all attend the school.”
This spring, Zahraa married and moved to Kentucky, where she is pursuing a master’s degree and certification as a mental health counselor. Three of her younger brothers currently attend Imago Dei.
Here’s what your tax credit dollars can provide for an Imago Dei student or graduate:
• $200 – a year of weekly art classes at the Tucson Museum of Art.
• $400 – a Chromebook loaded with software for use in the classroom.
• $1,000 – two meals a day for a year.