Arizona Educational Foundation Thunderbirds Charities

Thunderbirds Charities Awards $20,000 to Sponsor State Spelling Bee

The Arizona Educational Foundation is the recipient of a $20,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities to support the Arizona State Spelling Bee. The student who wins the State Spelling Bee goes on to represent Arizona as the official State Champion in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Arizona has one of the largest Spelling Bee participation rates in the nation, with close to 300,000 students competing each year from public, private, and homeschools statewide.

While Spelling Bees are a great American pastime, they are also tremendous tools for building written and verbal literacy skills. Over 1,000 teachers responded to a 2019 survey administered by AEF about the impact of the Arizona Bee on students. An overwhelming 91.4% of teachers reported that students who participate in Spelling Bees score significantly higher on reading and writing assessments than their non-Bee peers.

Spelling Bees begin at the classroom level and progress to grade level competitions, schoolwide, and then district Bees, with the final qualifier being a county or regional Bee. From county and regional Bees, twenty-seven students emerge as finalists and move on to compete at the Arizona State Spelling Bee.

In addition to providing technical support and enrollment assistance to thousands of teachers throughout Arizona each year, AEF also works with district, county, and regional Bee coordinators, and is the main organizer of the State Bee. Once a champion is determined, AEF provides travel for the student Champion and a chaperone to attend the Scripps National Bee in Washington D.C.

“We are so grateful for the support from Thunderbirds Charities,” says Kim Graham, AEF Executive Director. “They do so much to support education in Maricopa and Pinal counties and we are truly honored that they have chosen to support this vital academic opportunity for students.”

The Arizona State Spelling is scheduled, for Saturday, March 19th, at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. To allow for social distancing and other safety measures, the event will not be open to the public this year. Each speller will be allowed to bring up to two guests with them. A recorded copy of the spelling bee will be uploaded to the Arizona Educational Foundation’s YouTube channel sometime during the week following the bee. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is annually held in May of each year in Washington D.C.

For more information about the Arizona State Spelling Bee, contact Dr. Teresa Hill, State Bee Coordinator, at or (520) 591-0972.

Arizona Education Foundation

This grant is part of the Fall 2021 cycle. View a list of all Recent Grantees.