Charlene Tarver recently announced her campaign for Maricopa County Community Colleges Governing Board (District 5).
Charlene Tarver is seeking to become the second African American and the first African American woman to serve on the Maricopa County Community Colleges Governing Board. Dr. Donald R. Campbell was the first African American to serve on the board. The Maricopa Community Colleges Board oversees all 10 of the community colleges in the Maricopa County system from Scottsdale and Phoenix College to South Mountain, Gateway, and Mesa. Tarver is running on a campaign platform calling for the Arizona Legislature’s reinvestment in community colleges, and championing a strong youth workforce development agenda and commitment to reduce the number of opportunity youth in Maricopa county and the state.
In fiscal year 2008-09 Maricopa Community Colleges received approximately $69 million in state funding from the general fund. Governor Brewer reduced the funding by 50% in the January 2011 budget session and the allocation was close to $7.4 million by January 2015. In March 2015 the Arizona Legislature eliminated all state support for both Maricopa County and Pinal County— the largest community college districts in the state. Today, Maricopa Community Colleges receive $0 from the state general fund, and a limited amount of categorical funding from PROP 301 to be used for workforce development/job training support for students. Prop 301 is scheduled to expire mid 2021.
“We’re not doing enough in Arizona to close the opportunity gap,” said Tarver. “Essentially the governor and our legislature is failing this generation and the next!”
Nationwide there are 5.5 million opportunity youth (i.e., young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not enrolled in college or participating in the workforce). Data suggests a very high concentration exists right here in Maricopa County. According to Opportunity Nation young adults who are not in school or working cost tax payers $93 billion annually and $1.6 trillion over their lifetimes in lost revenues and increased social services nationally. The question is can Maricopa County afford to write off its own large group of young people?
Tarver says emphatically, “No! Arizona can’t afford the long term public and social costs of writing off young people and the next generation behind them. Community college is the best option to close the opportunity gap and build out a viable labor market for Maricopa County and the state. That’s why I’m running!”
Charlene Tarver is adjunct faculty at Maricopa Community Colleges and the founder and executive director of The Women’s Economic Institute, Inc.
Tarver has spent her life and career, more than 30 years, advocating for poor and marginalized people. From HIV/AIDS, homeless populations, and criminal justice reform to park services, bond-financing, pension reform, and body worn cameras, Tarver has served on numerous boards and commissions throughout her life and right here in Maricopa County. She brings a depth of diverse business, legal and administrative experience to the community colleges board and a passion for faculty, staff and most importantly students and community.
Tarver is also the author of Unleashing Your Powerhouse, which chronicles her own experience growing up in the inner city of Syracuse, New York—a city with the highest concentration of Black and Latino poverty in the nation.
“My father has a third-grade education and my mother attended the community college for nursing my 9th grade year in high school,” said Tarver. “From the two of them I went on to receive a BA from NYU, a law degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law, and an advanced legal degree (LL.M. in Tax) and CEBS from Georgetown Law. I know first-hand what community colleges mean to marginalized communities, single mothers, and working class families. Strong community colleges mean a stronger economy—a labor market where Arizonans can earn a livable wage, feed their families, have dignity, and dare to define and architect their own American dream. All Arizonans deserve that!”
For more information on Tarver’s campaign or to learn ways to get involved, visit her on the web at www.charlenetarverforAZ.com.