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December 2023
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ICAN Expands Services to Mesa with Two New Locations
By Lindsay Hansen - Monday Aug 15, 2022
For more than 30 years, ICAN has been serving Chandler youth with its free, after school programs. Last week, the nonprofit opened two new locations in Mesa to reach an additional 150 youth a day. The sites opened with 60 youth total and will continue to grow. The new locations are at Longfellow Elementary School, 345 S. Hall St. Mesa 85204 and Adams Elementary School, 738 S. Longmore Mesa 85202.

"The pandemic brought to light the critical importance of accessible childcare - a service that is essential for the economic mobility of families in our community,” said Shelby Pedersen, ICAN CEO. “Our board of directors identified Mesa as our next location because 17 percent of youth in Mesa schools live in poverty and 22 schools within the district have 75 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Due to the success of the Chandler sites, and the dire need for free programs like ICAN in other communities, we know we’ll make a positive impact on the youth and families in Mesa.”

The new sites offer ICAN’s afterschool program that is a holistic approach to helping youth from vulnerable backgrounds to prevent and overcome life challenges and prepare for healthy transitions to adulthood. The program utilizes the “5 C’s of Positive Youth Development,” a nationally-recognized youth engagement model that focuses not on “fixing” behavior problems, but building and nurturing all a child’s beliefs, behaviors, knowledge, attributes and skills. The 5 C’s include: connection, confidence, character, competence and contribution.

Youth attend programs Monday – Friday afterschool until 6 p.m. Program activities include S.T.E.A.M., academic support, literacy skill building, sport and recreation, and all youth receive a healthy snack and dinner daily.

“We expect all sites to continue growing in enrollment to serve 80-100 youth per site within the next two years,” added Pedersen.

ICAN’s expansion into Mesa is made possible, in part, by a catalytic $100,000 grant from Bank of America, as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to advance racial equality and economic opportunity by building pathways to education. The funding builds on Bank of America’s recent $1.65 million in grants to Arizona State University and Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation and to increase student success in degree and certification completion among students of color.

“Access to high-quality, affordable childcare is a game changer in terms of creating more positive educational and economic outcomes for under-resourced families,” said Benito Almaza, Arizona president for Bank of America. “ICAN programming and services impact multiple generations within a household, which ultimately constructs more widespread economic mobility and strengthens our Valley economy as a whole.”

Educational Statistics:
· 86% of students at Mesa Longfellow tested “not proficient” in ELA (English Language Arts) and 94% in Math (2021)
· 83% of students at Mesa Adams tested “not proficient” in ELA and 91% in Math (2021)
· 20% of students in Mesa District attend a Title I school
· The average cost for an afterschool program in the U.S. is $6.500 per year, per child, which can be a tremendous burden on a family living in poverty
· 93% of parents agreed/strongly agreed that having access to ICAN’s free after school program helped them keep their jobs (ICAN Spring 2022 Survey)
· 92% of parents agreed/strongly agreed that having access to ICAN’s free after school program helped them save money on other basic needs expenses (ICAN Spring 2022 Survey)

To learn more about becoming a corporate sponsor or donor for the new Mesa locations, contact Katie Stringham, Philanthropy Manager, ICAN at [email protected].


ICAN is a free youth center in the East Valley celebrating 30 years offering programs for youth, teens, families and the community. ICAN’s nationally-recognized prevention programming teaches vulnerable youth real-life skills including goal setting, positive decision making and how to avoid the risky behaviors that are prevalent in the community ICAN serves. ICAN’s evidence-supported programming equips youth to achieve personal and academic success. ICAN was twice named “Outstanding Afterschool Program” by the Arizona Center for After School Excellence. For more information about ICAN, call (480) 821-4207 or visit