Genesis City is Reclaiming the Promise of Arizona’s Youth

Genesis City‘s Purpose

Genesis City provides poverty-level 14-21 year olds (the majority of whom are the first in their families to graduate from high school) the opportunity to re-access the education pipeline and blossom into successful life-long learners and civically engaged community members. Genesis graduates become “Trailblazers” for their families and inspire the disengaged youth in their neighborhoods to return to school and forge a successful path to college and careers.  Many Genesis City alumni have graduated from colleges and vocational programs and are now working in well paid careers all over the Valley. Genesis City’s innovative programs break the cycle of poverty and contribute to the economic and social welfare of Metropolitan Phoenix.


Genesis City’s 10,000 square foot campus is situated in one of the most concentrated hotbeds of disengaged and under-served youth in Maricopa    County.  Genesis City Trailblazers hail from many of the highest poverty-level zip codes in the city where, according to U.S. Census information, 1 in 2 youth are “disconnected” (not working or attending school). The agency serves communities spanning a 20 mile radius and the majority of its participants travel from as far as the surrounding communities of Tempe, Sunnyslope, South Phoenix,  Maryvale and Laveen to benefit from  its innovative programs.  The agency provides services to an average of 250-300 disadvantaged youth and their families a year and a continuum of services are provided to alumni who return to its doors seeking ongoing guidance, training and employment opportunities.


Genesis City’s Urgent and Timely Mission

The mission of Genesis City is to reclaim the promise of Arizona’s disenfranchised youth by providing them with the tools and opportunity  they need  to become active contributors to the economic and social welfare of their communities in this and future generations.


Genesis City has a Remarkable 30 Year Track Record of Serving Our Valley’s Most Disadvantaged Youth

Since its inception in 1991, Genesis City has provided hope and a new beginning to over 7,000 of the most disadvantaged teenagers in Maricopa County., Genesis City is a 501(C))(3) youth services charity that serves to strengthen communities.


  • 1991 Genesis Program (a ground-breaking dropout intervention program) is launched by Maricopa Community College District on the Phoenix College campus. The pilot program served disenfranchised youth who had dropped out of Phoenix Union High School District schools.
  • 1993 Genesis Program, Inc. forms partnerships with the City of Phoenix, Glendale Union High School District, Phoenix Union High School District, Maricopa County Regional Schools, Arizona State University and Maricopa County Community College District to provide educational and support services to disenfranchised Valley youth. Every Phoenix mayor has served on Genesis Program’s advisory council since its inception in1991.
  • 1993 Genesis Program, Inc., dba Genesis City, a grass roots 501(c)(3) youth services charity, is formed by civic and business leaders
  • 1996 The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools grants Genesis Program, Inc. a contract to operate an alternative high school.
  • 1997 Genesis City’s charter school arm, Genesis Academy alternative school, begins its first year of operation at City Colleges Center (a Maricopa Community College District facility) on 1st Avenue and Roosevelt in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 2007 Facility purchased and the program moved to 525 E. McDowell Road and Genesis City expands services through a grant from Helios Education Foundation.
  • 2022 Genesis Program celebrates its 31st year of serving Valley youth.


Genesis City Demographics

  • 95% low to very low income
  • 99% minority
  • 99% behind one year or more in basic skills
  • 50% victims of crime or abuse
  • 15% pregnant and parenting teens;
  • 65% children of teenage parents
  • 33% juvenile justice system involvement/adjudicated
  • 24% work an average of 32 hours per week
  • 68% of Genesis Academy graduates are first generation high school graduates
  • 30% have been incarcerated or are on probation
  • 20% intermittently homeless
  • 68% first generation high school graduates
  • 20% struggling with mental health issues (including depression, past suicidal ideation and post traumatic   stress disorder)
  • 22% expelled, or administratively dropped from their high school due to  serious behavior infractions or  truancy


Genesis City is Expert in the Field of Inspiring Disenfranchised Youth to Reach Their True Potential

Oftentimes youth who are struggling with socioeconomic barriers give up on their dreams of a brighter future and drop out of school. These teenagers find themselves caught in a downward spiral of despair and hopelessness. Their sense of fatalism, coupled with a lack of educational opportunity, can lead fragile teenagers to substance abuse, unwanted pregnancy, self-harm, crime and even suicide. Genesis City ‘s innovative support services reclaim  the promise of Arizona’s disenfranchised youth by providing them with the opportunity and tools they need to reach their true potential. Genesis City taps into a deep reservoir of talent that would otherwise be given up for lost. Genesis City’s education and support services provide those youth who are fortunate enough to find their way through its doors a new beginning and a path to success


Genesis City Provides the Following Innovative Programs and Wrap-Around Services to its Trailblazers:

  • Character Education and Civic Engagement Programs
  • Community Service and Civic Engagement
  • College and Career Readiness Training
  • Credit Recovery Programs
  • Post Secondary Registration
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Fine Arts and Theatre
  • Intensive Skills Remediation
  • Job Readiness Training and Placement (through its WorkLink Program )
  • Life Coaching,  Goal Setting and Individualized Life Planning
  • Physical Fitness, Nutrition Education  and Wellness Program
  • Food and Clothing Assistance and Social Service Referrals


Unique Features and Facts About Genesis City

  •  Research demonstrates that Genesis City serves a greater number of youth who are at highest risk of dropping out of school than comparable youth services programs (data is based on Centers for Disease Control National Behavioral Risk Survey).
  •  Genesis City serves a high percentage of students who have been expelled, long-term suspended, and/or banned from traditional school districts due to serious behavioral infractions..
  • The historical average of Genesis City graduates who transition into post-secondary education  is 78%
  • Genesis City was instrumental in shaping Arizona’s current alternative school accountability system through its work with Arizona Alternative Education Consortium, the State Board of Education, the Arizona Department of Education, and Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.
  • Genesis City leaders continue to advocate for quality alternative education through its leadership roles with Arizona Alternative Education Consortium, Phoenix Community Alliance, the City of Phoenix Youth and Education Commission, Arizona Department of Education, State Board of Education and state legislators.
  • Genesis City  served as an important voice in Governor Ducey’s Classroom First Initiative


Genesis City’s Groundbreaking Work with Disengaged Youth Receives Accolades: 

  • 2004 – Mayor’s Education Partnership Award (for Education Innovation)

Presented to Genesis Academy students and Blair Coe Schweiger,  Academic Program Director and Genesis Academy

  • 2008 – Latino Institute

Community Leadership Award presented to Luis Bleuze, Instructor and WorkLink Coordinator, Genesis Academy

  • 2012 – YWCA Tribute to Leadership

Education Leader Award presented to Karen Callahan, Executive Director

  • 2014 – ASU Center for the Study of Race and Democracy

Architect of Change Award – Education/Youth Champion Award presented to Karen Callahan, Executive Director

  • 2015 – Arizona Interfaith Movement

Golden Rule Award presented to Genesis City and Karen Callahan, Executive Director, Education Honoree

Organization History


Ground-breaking dropout intervention
program launched at Phoenix College


Genesis Academy Alternative High School chartered through ASBCS to expand participants’ educational opportunity


Genesis City’s expanded wrap around educational, social, and career service programs launched through grant from Helios Education Foundation


Genesis City celebrates 31 years of providing new beginnings for youth and breaking the cycle of generational poverty in one generation

Genesis City Nonprofit organization founded Served as off-site alternative school for MCRS, PUHSD and GUHSD

Faculty & Staff

Grayson Payne

Executive Director

Shana Tompa

Director of Development

Angela Ashton


Gary Blair


Xavier Colon


Maria Castro


Angie Valdez

Business Manager

Board Members

Gregory T. Mischel

Chairman, Magnet Capital, L.P.

Jeff Moloznik

RED Development

Vada O. Manager

Manager Global Consulting Group, LLC

Malachi Crawford

Axia Home Loans

Elenia Sotelo

City of Phoenix

Michael Chesin

Helios Education Foundation

Jeff Scudder

Secretary, Snell & WIlmer, LLP

What our alumni say about Genesis Academy