Feedback: March 2022

by Becky Bell Ballard, Paula Carvalho, Christopher Rodriguez 

Question: Beyond the focused impact of your organization’s mission and its impact on the population you serve, what is the economic impact of its ripple effect in our community? 

Becky Bell Ballard

Rosie’s House: A Music Academy for Children
Sector: Nonprofit

Improving educational outcomes for underserved students in Arizona is critical to the well-being and prosperity of our state. High income students are seven times more likely to earn a college degree than economically disadvantaged students and it is estimated that 68% of jobs require a post-secondary degree. Arizona’s education data is a clear call to action, and it is imperative that our community prioritizes investing educational resources, both conventional and non-conventional, in communities that face tremendous inequities. 

At Rosie’s House, our 25 years of work has shown us how educational attainment can have a powerful ripple effect on families and communities. As an organization that uses free afterschool music education for personal and cognitive development, Rosie’s House sees 97% of its graduating students go on to college, a rate twice that of their peers. As these students graduate college and enter the workforce, we are seeing high-wage employment and prosperity. Our alumni become role models for younger students and the long-term economic impact is a skilled and creative workforce shaping the future of Arizona.  

As the CEO of Rosie’s House, Beck Ballard finds solutions to address the disparity in access to music education. In her role, she combines creativity with strategy and has grown the local nonprofit into one of the largest free afterschool music programs nationwide.

Ballard is actively involved with Valley Leadership (Class 37 Graduate) and was in the 2018 cohort of 40 under 40 presented by the Phoenix Business Journal. Her life’s mission is to make sure all kids have the creative experiences they need to blossom.

Paula Carvalho

Executive Director
Mission of Mercy Arizona
Sector: Nonprofit

The work we do at Mission of Mercy providing a medical home to our community’s most vulnerable residents has a tangible economic impact as we keep patients without health insurance out of our local hospital emergency departments. During the pandemic, this impact has been especially critical as we know healthcare facilities have been overburdened with COVID patients for the past two years.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 42% of ED visits are attributed to painful conditions. When a community member lacks health insurance and has no medical home, the ED is often the first place they turn to for care when experiencing pain related to chronic health conditions or illnesses. Unfortunately, the cost of care within an ED environment is far more expensive than other community-based healthcare options. 

By staffing our clinics with volunteer physicians and nurses, we’re able to keep our costs low. In 2021, our clinics provided nearly 14,000 patient visits and 45,000 life-saving prescription medications to individuals who had nowhere else to turn for their healthcare. The ripple effect this had within our community is exponential, but the need for services like ours remains high.

Paula Carvalho is the executive director of Mission of Mercy Arizona, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that operates six mobile medical clinics in Maricopa County providing free primary medical care and prescription medications to patients without health insurance. Celebrating 25 years of service in 2022, Mission of Mercy Arizona treats approximately 2,500 patients annually, 90% of whom have one or more chronic health condition. Carvalho has more than 20 years of nonprofit leadership and program management experience in the Valley. 

Christopher Rodriguez 

President and CEO
Sector: Nonprofit

Ability360 provides a diverse array of supports, services and programs for youth and adults with disabilities so that they may live independent lives in the community. Part of being independent includes financial self-sufficiency and economic security, which is why a number of our programs focus specifically on assisting individuals with disabilities in gaining and maintaining competitive integrated employment. This, of course, includes helping individuals with disabilities in garnering job skills that are in fields of their individual interest areas, but it also includes educating local businesses (small and large) about the immense value that individuals with disabilities can bring to their workforce. 

Individuals with disabilities, for better or worse, are often critical thinkers and problem solvers by necessity. They navigate a world that, unfortunately, has been constructed with them as an afterthought, yet they do it successfully. Additionally, it has been documented that individuals and their families tend to exercise their commerce at businesses that support the disability community. About 20% of the U.S. population has a disability, so this is a sizable group with substantial purchasing power. 

So, by providing programs that focus on helping individuals with disabilities gain employment, Ability360 offers local businesses the opportunity to diversify their workforce, increase their productivity by hiring competent capable problem solvers and tap into a loyal customer base that they may increase their competitive edge.

Christopher Rodriguez has an extensive history advocating alongside and on behalf of individuals with disabilities on the local, state and national levels. Before becoming the president and CEO of Ability360, Rodriguez served in leadership roles at numerous organizations in the disability advocacy community. 

Rodriguez received his undergraduate degree at University of California, Berkeley. He earned his graduate degree in public affairs at the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at University of Texas, Austin, with a minor in disability studies. Rodriguez’s passion for advocating comes from his experiences as the younger sibling to a person with significant intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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