Last year, 100 teachers received $5,000 each through Fiesta Bowl Charities’ Wishes for Teachers program. They used the money to improve classrooms and curricula by  updating technology, funding field trips, buying additional materials and more.

This year, Fiesta Bowl Charities in partnership with TheArizona Republic wants to help grant wishes for even more teachers.

HOW TO APPLY: Teachers can find the form at

HOW TO DONATE: Text ‘wishlist’ to 51555 or use the online donation form. 

A way to honor teachers

The program started last year as a way to honor teachers, said Mike Nealy, executive director of Fiesta Bowl. Teachers fill out an online application form detailing their wish and are selected by random drawing.

Nealy said teachers often spend their own money to provide for classrooms and that his organization wanted to do something to help. 

“Instead of giving the teachers something we think they want, why not grant their wish?” he said. “We all know that Arizona is working on our education system. We want to show we appreciate teachers. They have a hard job.”

Some of last year’s wishes come true

One of last year’s recipients, Sue Latta, who teaches at Sunnyside High School in Tucson, wished to replenish her school’s Devil Dollar Store. Staff members reward students with “dollars” for being respectful, reliable or well-behaved, and students can redeem those dollars for items like socks, T-shirts and more. Latta said she was surprised when she found out she had been selected. 

“I was absolutely ecstatic and happy, especially for our kids because, really, the program is for them,” she said. 

Another recipient, Caitlin Wiggin-Carlton, a teacher at American Leadership Academy in Mesa, used her grant to buy tech items for students.   

“My principal called me up (to tell me I had been selected) and I just couldn’t believe it. She was jumping up and down screaming. It’s one of those things you don’t think you’re really going to get,” she said. 

Supporting Arizona’s youth

Fiesta Bowl focuses on giving back in three core areas — education, youth and sports — and Nealy said the idea for Wishes for Teachers was generated quickly because it incorporates two of those.

A total of $500,000 was granted last year to teachers, and Nealy said he’s hoping for “a lot more” this year.

“We are excited to help make teachers’ wishes come true,” said Mi-Ai Parrish, president of azcentral and The Arizona Republic. “This program will allow educators to provide additional resources to help support Arizona’s youth in the classroom.”

Teachers can apply for the program at Winners are selected through random drawings. Nealy said with all the success of the program last year, they’re expecting thousands to apply. 

You can also help grant wishes for teachers. To donate to the program, text ‘wishlist to 51555 or complete the online donation form.

“(This year) we’re looking forward to honoring more teachers, really just more success and surprising more teachers,” Nealy said. 

Wishes for Teachers

What it is: A program that grants teachers $5,000 each through random drawings. 

How to apply: Teachers can fill out the online form with their information and a description of their wish at:

How to donate: Text ‘wishlist’ to 51555 or use the online donation form. The donation period runs from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3.   

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