About Us

At Arizona Career Pathways, we believe that career-focused college education is a path to a better future.

Arizona Career Pathways is a nonprofit workforce training initiative of Valley Interfaith Project that partners with Maricopa Community Colleges to provide one-on-one support services to hundreds of low-income students every year. We help them earn a community college degree or credential in high-demand career fields and then connect them with companies looking to hire.

Because our communities and our economy benefit from having a strong, well-trained workforce. And nothing should stop motivated, hardworking people from having a good career and a brighter future.

Our Mission

Our mission is to demonstrate the substantial social and economic benefits that are achieved through investment in long-term credential and degree attainment for those who otherwise would not have the opportunity. We seek to improve the quality of life, raise the standard of living, and enhance the productivity and competitiveness of Maricopa County.

Since 2010, our proven workforce development model has provided low-income students with the skills training they need for the most in-demand jobs in our community.

  • According to a study by the National Skills Coalition, a majority (51%) of job openings in Arizona over the next ten years will require skills training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree.

Companies in growing industries like healthcare, IT, and advanced manufacturing need skilled workers.

  • Projected employment growth in the healthcare industry in Maricopa County is more than three times higher than the national average, with 122,000 new jobs in healthcare added to our community over the next ten years.

There is also a significant shortage of tradespeople, like plumbers and electricians.

Arizona Career Pathways produces graduates that help meet the critical need for these jobs that require skills training beyond high school, but not a four‐year degree.

Our Model

  • Financial Assistance. We invest in our students’ future by helping pay for education expenses like tuition, books, and fees. We also help them navigate the federal financial aid system. And when unexpected challenges arise, we help with non-school related expenses, like utilities, food, and gas, so students can stay on track and complete their education.
  • Support Services. We offer 1:1 support services and guidance to answer questions, provide encouragement, and relieve the stress and confusion of navigating the system so students can stay focused on learning.
  • Career Connections. We support our graduates throughout their job search. We help them create a resume, prepare for interviews, and connect them with local companies looking to hire well-trained workers.

Our Staff

Stephen Sparks, MPA

Executive Director

(480) 773-3485

[email protected]

Chris Payne, MS

Program Director, Career Navigator

(480) 621-0051

[email protected]

Kerrie Adney-Walker, AA, BA, MEd, MEd

Outreach and Community Partnership Manager

(602) 312-6192

[email protected]

James Stormzand

Outreach Specialist

(616) 690-0193

[email protected]

Ashley May

Career Navigator

(602) 767-2731

[email protected]

Layla Maroufkhani

Career Navigator

(602) 481-9394

[email protected]

Jessika Swaenepoel

Career Navigator

(623) 806-9527

[email protected]

Our Board

Monica Dorcey, Treasurer
Farmer Insurance Group, Retired

Rabbi John Linder
Temple Solel

Rick Mahrle, Secretary
Gammage & Burnham Attorneys at Law

Rev. Hunter Ruffin
Church of the Epiphany-Tempe

Stephen Sparks
Executive Director, Arizona Career Pathways

Our Partners

Arizona Career Pathways is a nonprofit workforce training initiative of Valley Interfaith Project, a non-partisan consortium of faith-based institutions and community organizations committed to sustainable social and economic improvement. Arizona Career Pathways was launched from the concerns of the VIP membership in 2010 to address economic issues and workforce development. VIP assists with recruiting low-income and under­served members of the community, and VIP leadership supports Arizona Career Pathways outreach and provides neighborhood outreach and meeting places that help to strengthen Arizona Career Pathways’ message in the community. Member institutions then take an active interest in the progress of the program participants, encouraging and helping them to succeed in meeting their educational goals.

Maricopa Community Colleges is the primary provider of education and training for our students. One of the largest community college systems in the country, MCC has 10 regionally accredited colleges and 31 satellite locations around the Valley and offers 600 degree and certificate programs to prepare students for the workforce. MCC provides space for mentoring and peer support meetings, and the offices of Arizona Career Pathways are located on the campus of Gateway Community College.

Arizona Career Pathways (ACP) is partnering with the City of Phoenix and Maricopa Community Colleges on a project that provides individuals with free tuition, monthly stipends, and employment assistance when enrolled in eligible training programs across the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges.

This project is designed to assist individuals whose employment or household income was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. ACP is now enrolling and the project will continue through December 2024.

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