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Phoenix Rising Challenged to Bring $10 Million to Arizona Education

07-14-2016 11:04 AM CET | Science & Education

Press release from: XQ Phoenix Rising

Maria Mendez and Wendy Bias together at Phoenix College

Maria Mendez and Wendy Bias together at Phoenix College

(Phoenix, AZ) - A nationwide movement to “rethink and reimagine high school” is underway. XQ: The Super School Project is spearheaded by Russlynn Ali, chief executive officer of XQ Institute, and Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective. On Aug. 4, 2016 XQ awards five to 10 winning teams $10 million to fund their ideas to transform our industrial era educational system for a new age. Powell Jobs hopes the competition will uncover “game-changing thinking, a moonshot” idea to modernize learning for the 21st Century. Local student and coach, Maria Mendez, is proud to be a part of the XQ semi-finalist team, Phoenix Rising.

Phoenix Rising is among 350 innovative high school models chosen from an initial 10,000 concepts. What sets Phoenix Rising apart from the competition is its skunkworks educational design. Skilled teaching teams partner with student cohorts and use design thinking, the Socratic method, and integrated learning to provide real world solutions for business and government. Supported by staff, students brainstorm solutions, work in project teams, and produce prototypes and white papers to be implemented by the organizations who hire the school skunkworks as consultants. In this way, each and every student participates in an internship, receives guidance and mentoring, develops critical thinking, and obtains invaluable job skills all while learning the standards they need for post-secondary education and long-term career success.

Arizona State University – whose own charter school ASU Preparatory Academy achieved a 100 percent graduation rate in 2016 – agreed to sponsor the charter for the proposed Phoenix Rising School.

If selected as an XQ Super School winner, Phoenix Rising Charter School will open in the Greater Phoenix area. The Rising Education model is flexible and applicable to a wide range of communities and capable of being adapted globally and nationally as the new education model for our evolving educational landscape.

“We appreciate ASU’s support of Phoenix Rising and look forward to living up to their high standards,” Mendez said.

The Phoenix Rising team was formed in October 2015 by Wendy Bias and quickly became a national, grassroots movement.

“We have a wonderful group of volunteers working on this project who truly believe in the Rising Education model,” Bias said. “They give extensively of their free time, despite the commitments of their full-time jobs, because they believe in fueling the next wave of innovation in education. Our team wants to support a coast-to-coast movement that helps every city rise to future challenges.”

Mendez is a student at Copper Canyon High School. As a coach of the 2016 Northern Arizona Invitational Champion AZ Diesel soccer squad, she knows it takes a team that works together, remains persistent and has a lot of grit to achieve success. Mendez works to improve her own skills through organizations like Tomorrow’s Involved Leaders Today (TILT) run by the City of Phoenix, the National Honor Society (NHS) and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA Arizona). She wants to ensure that every student has access to educators who care about empowering them for the future.

“I wanted to join XQ after finding out there are people trying to change education because they don’t like how it stayed the same for over 100 years. I think it is really great that they are not trying to help themselves but to help others.” said Mendez. “I like that the team is not afraid to step up and say, ‘This is wrong. We shouldn’t be doing this.’ Phoenix Rising will fight for what is right and for what is best for students.”

For more information on the XQ Super School Project, visit Learn more, show your support and join the conversation by following @XQPhoenixRising on Twitter and Instagram and PhoenixRisingAZ on Facebook and Snapchat. Learn more about Phoenix Rising at

(For more information regarding Maria Mendez or Phoenix Rising, please contact

Phoenix Rising High School’s mission is to create independent, thoughtful, problem-solving graduates through the use of a skunkworks educational program. We strive to mentor young people into adults ready for life by using a subject-integrated, project-based program incorporating all learning styles in conjunction with internships where students experience real life application through paid opportunities.

4545 N 67th Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85033

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