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Thunderbirds Charities Becomes Presenting Sponsor of Arizona State Spelling Bee

Arizona Educational Foundation AEF® Arizona Teacher of the Year® News

Phoenix, Ariz., February 3, 2023 – The Arizona Educational Foundation (AEF®) is the recipient of a $25,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities to support the Arizona State Spelling Bee. Arizona has one of the largest Spelling Bee participation rates in the nation, with 484,122 students competing this year from public, private, parochial and homeschools statewide. For the two students who place first and second place in the State Spelling Bee, AEF supports travel for the students and their chaperones to represent Arizona as official champions in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland.

While Spelling Bees are a great American pastime, they are also tremendous tools for building written and verbal literacy skills. 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.

“We are proud to support The Arizona State Spelling Bee, hosted by the Arizona Educational Foundation," said Michael Golding, Thunderbirds Charities President. "This program provides another opportunity for students to improve upon their literacy skills in a fun and exciting way. We look forward to this event each year and are proud of the student’s hard work and dedication.

As the official state coordinator of the Arizona Spelling Bee, AEF staff provides technical support and enrollment assistance to thousands of teachers throughout Arizona each year; additionally, AEF works with each coordinator leading district, county, and regional Bees statewide. AEF is also the main organizer of the Arizona State Bee, which is the final competition each year to determine who will represent Arizona in the Scripps National Bee.

“Having Thunderbirds Charities serve as the presenting sponsor of the Arizona Spelling Bee is incredible,” says Kim Graham, AEF Executive Director. “They do so much to support education in Maricopa county and we are truly honored that they have chosen to support this vital academic opportunity for students.”

The Arizona State Spelling Bee is scheduled for Saturday, March 18th, 2023 at the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix. The Bee will be open to the public and is free to attend. Leading up to the State Bee, AEF features each of the 27 student finalists on its social media channels. A recorded copy of the spelling bee will be uploaded to the Arizona Educational Foundation's YouTube channel following the bee. The 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals will be broadcast live on ION the evening of Thursday, June 1, 2023.

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


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About Thunderbirds Charities

Thunderbirds Charities is a non-profit organization formed in 1986 to distribute monies raised through the WM Phoenix Open. The mission of Thunderbirds Charities is to assist children and families, help people in need and improve the quality of life in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan Area. 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 285 “life” members. For more information on the Thunderbirds or the 2023 WM Phoenix Open, visit For more information on the Thunderbirds Charities, visit

About Arizona Educational Foundation, AEF®

The mission of AEF is to celebrate excellence and cultivate equity in Pre-K-12th grade Arizona public education. This is accomplished through a variety of programs for teachers, administrators, and students. Some programs shine a spotlight on excellence; others provide a stepping stone to help support schools and educators on the road to awesomeness. In addition to the Arizona Teacher of the Year® program, AEF also coordinates the Arizona State Spelling Bee, the A+ School of Excellence® Award, the Principals Leadership Academy of Arizona, teachSTEM, Our World, and Take Your Legislator to School. AEF was founded in 1983, by then State Superintendent of Public Education, Carolyn Warner, who felt a nonprofit needed to be established to champion public education and recognize the great work of public school educators. AEF annually reaches over 500,000 students, teachers and administrators throughout Arizona. For more information visit, or contact

Arizona Educational Foundation AEF® – Giving Arizona Public Education the Shine it Deserves | Everyone's Story Includes a Teacher®

­­Media Contact:

Terri Bradford, Director of Communications & Digital Strategy, Arizona Educational Foundation

Mobile: 720-468-3996 | Email:


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