Scottsdale Arts Awarded $20K Grant for Early Childhood Education

Scottsdale Arts Education & Outreach is pleased to announce a grant of $20,000 from Thunderbirds Charities, the charitable giving arm of the Thunderbirds, to support Arizona Wolf Trap, an arts-integrated, early childhood development program. The Thunderbirds host the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open, presented by Ak-Chin Indian Community.

“Scottsdale Arts is thrilled to partner with Thunderbirds Charities on the Arizona Wolf Trap program,” said Natalie Marsh, director of Scottsdale Arts Education & Outreach. “Through this partnership, we will be able to reach more Head Start and preschool classrooms, particularly those in underserved communities.”

Marsh said the years before a child reaches kindergarten are critical when it comes to influencing learning. Wolf Trap uses performing arts to help young learners master a variety of skills, including language development, gross and fine motor coordination, concentration, memory, verbalization and positive self-image.

“Learning basic motor skills through art and creative expression is paramount to early learning,” said Carlos Sugich, president of Thunderbirds Charities. “We’re extremely proud to support children and the teachers in our communities.”

The Wolf Trap program, which is affiliated with the Virginia-based Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning Through the Arts, combines teacher workshops, in-classroom residencies, field trips and other resources to engage children and support teachers. The residencies place professional teaching artists in classrooms for seven weeks at a time, while the field trips bring children to arts centers to experience the magic of a live performance.

Dr. Gerd Wuestemann, president and CEO of Scottsdale Arts, said the donation will allow Scottsdale Arts to better serve a diverse range of children throughout the Valley.

“We are honored to receive a Thunderbirds grant for the first time in our history,” Wuestemann said. “Scottsdale Arts is deeply invested in improving the lives of thousands of students through creative education. We will leverage this grant through other fundraising efforts to guarantee that one day in the future every child in our community will be engaged in meaningful arts experiences.”

Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament. The Thunderbirds Charities Board consists of 15 board members from varying professional backgrounds. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in our communities. The organization’s giving is directed toward organizations based or with a significant presence in Arizona. The Thunderbirds were founded in 1937 with the mission of promoting the Valley of the Sun through sports. The Thunderbirds consist of 55 “active” members and more than 250 “life” members. For more information on the Thunderbirds or the 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open, visit

Through its partnership with the City of Scottsdale, the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse, inspired arts experiences and educational opportunities that foster active, lifelong community engagement with the arts. Since its founding in 1987, Scottsdale Arts has grown into a regionally and nationally significant, multi-disciplinary arts organization offering an exceptional variety of programs through three acclaimed divisions — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) and Scottsdale Public Art — serving more than 400,000 participants annually.

Scottsdale Arts’ Education & Outreach initiatives build a strong, vibrant community through the arts. The high-quality exhibitions, programs and events foster dialogue, promote tolerance, invoke wonder and build connections to each other. Matinee performances, guided museum tours, hands-on workshops, artist residencies and creative aging programs serve more than 50,000 students and adults annually.