Phoenix autism charter schools win $1M prize in New York

From left to right. Jeanne Allen (Founder and CEO, the Center for Education Reform) Jeff Yass,...
From left to right. Jeanne Allen (Founder and CEO, the Center for Education Reform) Jeff Yass, Diana Diaz-Harrison, Rob Blevins (2021 Yass Prize Winner), Janine Yass, Caroline Allen(Courtesy of VISION5, Inc)
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 3:20 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Arizona Autism Charter Schools won the $1 million Yass Prize in New York on Wednesday, beating eight other finalists for education’s largest and most prestigious award. “[I am] thrilled that Arizona Autism Charter Schools won the top million dollar Yass Prize,” Arizona Autism Charter Schools founder Diana Diaz-Harrison tells Arizona’s Family. “Our trailblazing work in our state, innovating for neurodiverse children, will now be fueled by the Yass Prize to launch similar autism charter schools across the nation!!”

This is the Yass Prize’s second year awarding money to schools it considers “innovative and impactful education providers,” and in a press release says that “the prize recognizes Arizona Autism’s efforts to expand its unique individualized learning programs, which are rated exemplary by Arizona.” The Center for Education Reform, which supports school choice, administers the prize and houses the Yass Foundation for Education in Washington, D.C. The other finalists did not go home empty-handed. They each received $500,000 awards.

Arizona Autism Charter Schools is the only public school for autistic students in Arizona and is the first in the West dedicated to serving neuro-divergent learners. AACS opened its first campus in 2014 on 14th Street and Indian School Road. It started by serving 90 students in grades K-5 and has since expanded to more than 700 students across four schools, including a high school and preschool in the same area. They also have online learning options, according to the school’s website.